how it all began...
I grew up in rural Oxfordshire, and have always been obsessed with horses,
much to the bemusement of my totally un horsey family. I surrounded
myself with horses at every opportunity from helping out at yards in return
for rides to watching horses working at Waterstock Training Centre when
it was owned by Lars Sederholm. I dreamt of being able to ride like they did.
With my Aunts pony
When my obsession showed no signs of abating I funded my first pony on loan with a paper round aged 13, a second loan pony followed before I had my own horse- Luke; a 4yr old ex racehorse who I dreamt of show jumping to a high level. Unfortunately A Levels took over, then art college, then a university degree in Fashion Design and Marketing.
Paper round pony- 'Shrimpy'
My own horse-
Now don’t get me wrong, I have always been creatively driven but...how did that happen? I wanted a career in horses!
However following graduation I found myself working for a fashion PR agency for 2yrs before a spontaneous month travelling caused me to take stock.
What was I doing?! I was miserable, hating my job and worlds away from my childhood dreams.
I quit shortly after returning to the UK to train at Trent Park Equestrian Centre and complete my BHSAI qualification. I wanted to focus more on my riding and when qualified I began a job that would last for many years as a live in groom/ rider for a family and their horses. This I combined with freelance teaching both private clients and in a local riding school, I loved seeing partnerships grow, people grow in confidence and skill, horses develop. I was hooked!
A chance arose to rent a yard as a business premises. The fences around the unkempt and limited fields were rotten or missing, the roof on the stables leaked dramatically, the electrics were scary and the outdoor manege an unusable patch of stones and weeds.
“You are insane” my sister exclaimed when I joyously broke the news that I was finally to have a yard of my own. I know there was possibly an element of truth in that statement but I was following my dreams and nothing and nobody was going to stop me.
Opening with a tidied up version of what I had taken on in July and by the beginning of September I was full. My ethos of honesty and hard work was paying off, I cultivated a yard of support and community and it was working. Clients were inspired to do more and more with their horses, confidence, skills and friendships grew as the yard did.
Then my dreams were shattered....the owner of the premises gave me one months notice to vacate. One month, everything I had worked for, gone.
So the stables are now the site of yet more luxury houses but the friendships and client base that began at the yard stayed with me.
Again at a turning point and with the threat of bankruptcy I took a job as a labourer with a construction firm. Three years passed, I became a site manager, I still had my own horse (the youngster, Merlin) but finding the time to ride, train or teach was becoming increasingly difficult.
I was struggling.
Shortly before Christmas 2016 my husband encouraged me to see a doctor.
Christmas came and went and so did more weight.
I took two weeks off work, at the beginning of which I was thrown from a rather fresh Merlin and taken to hospital with a suspected broken pelvis and femur.
As I laid in the manége in agony surrounded by most of the yard I heard the paramedic ask my husband did I have any underlying health issues as I was very underweight. He tried to say it so no one else heard but they did, they knew anyway, I couldn’t hide it any longer.
I cried, I told myself it was because of the pain. I was not strong enough to ride, my bones not strong enough to withstand a fall and my organs already too much pressure. I had been lucky to get away with it this far. I had kept it a secret for nearly 3 years, my eating disorder was my way of coping.
I spent my time off recovering from my fall and seeing doctors of one kind or another. I tried to return to work but I had stepped off the carousel and I couldn’t get back on.
My self confidence was in tatters and so I gave my notice- effective immediately.
I’m not going to say that that was the end of the road downhill- my ‘knife edge’ moment happened 2 months later in an incident that could have had a very different outcome. I will be forever in their debt for what they did for me that night and am only too aware of how the story could have gone.
I owe my recovery to the support of friends and family but also to my decision to never again try and be someone I’m not, or to suppress what I really believe in.
So, there it is. My story, my truth.
Don’t waste time wishing for things you haven’t got or wishing that situations were different....
‘Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can’ - Arthur Ashe