The big cheese,dysfunction and wide-eyed terror

Ronnie and I landed up in Peterborough in February 2000. It’s embarrassing now when I think of it. Gods gift to three day eventing had landed (despite having never contested more than a hunter trial),mind your backs Funnell and Todd. The yard was small but perfect. Rows of Devoucoux saddles, (that’s where that nasty  little habit began) spotless beautiful horses and terribly polite,posh english people. I was SCREWED. My bright orange reins and bright yellow over reach boots-along with the tendency to say ‘fuck’ a lot-meant that this could only go one way.

Ronnie the racehorse was a legend. He had no idea what was going on really but he gave it his best. We never did get to an event but he did jump with class around the Fitzwilliam cross country course and place at dressage. He went lame then with what turned out to be navicular,and that was that. Home,James….

Next stop was a job with one of Ireland’s leading showjumpers. No doubt that I needed to learn to do that bit. I learned plenty and I  loved it there but eventing was what I (thought) wanted to do. Off I went again,to a big event yard down the country. I took dear old Ronnie too but he struggled with his feet. He went home,and in his place landed the greatest bastard I had up to then encountered. A massive tank of a horse with totally psychotic tendencies,no brakes and no limits that went by the name of ‘Cruise’.He was vastly unsuitable for eventing,being three-quarters draught and slower than your average asthmatic snail but he could jump,and he was batshit insane enough to jump anything-as long as you could get to within 10 feet of the fence. His specialist subject was the nap-spin-bolt manoeuvre. I did however-tadaaaaa-event him!!! He did two events before soundness issues began. Turned out he had navicular too. I’m pretty sure that his behaviour was mostly pain related in hindsight. I really loved the mad hoor-mainly out of gratitude for not actually killing me-and I was very sad the day he went to the big pasture in the sky. My beautiful Ronnie went the same way too and it was an annus horriblus for us when we lost a lovely Commanche Run filly in a hurdle race at Gowran and a foal that injured itself irrepairably in the field.

My mother was breeding a few horses at the time and she had in her care what turned out to be one of my two horses of a lifetime in Jj.I took Cruise with me to work on a dressage yard but after he had departed,I needed another horse to event. JJ was only two at the time but he was naughty,so I broke him and hacked him around for a few months. He was flawless in every way. The most beautiful horse I had ever seen with perfect balance,a Mensa brain and a huge jump,this one set me dreaming. Anyway,the event horse conundrum-enter Som Du Ville (Autumn to his pals). He was a gorgeous big chestnut with no mouth whatsoever and he had been hobdayed,so everywhere we went he whistled a jaunty tune. I moved jobs back to another Showjumper and took Autumn and Jj with me. I managed four or five events with Autumn,finding him much easier in a hackamore. I was beginning to realise that this eventing lark was much harder than I had thought,and overnight international superstardom wasn’t really happening. I started to wake up to life a bit when a mile in the lead at my last event on Autumn. He stopped on the cross country. Not such a star now,are Ya….

Autumn went home and it transpired that he had navicular. WHAT THE FUCK WITH ALL THE NAVICULAR??????? So I went to work for  ANOTHER Showjumper and I learned a lot. I ran a 12 horse yard by myself and I surely learned the meaning of hard graft. Jj came along too and whilst at the time I hated it,hated my boss and hated the world at large,it taught me the basis of the methods I use to this day. These methods have served me well and produced many nice young horses. Thanks Paulie.

As fast as I was learning that I was no big swinging Mickey,Jj was becoming convinced that he ruled the free world. He was amazing all the time and he taught me what showjumping is meant to feel like. I decided that he wasn’t going eventing,and along with another absolute topper of a horse called Vector M2S I now had TWO showjumpers and NO eventers. I had a few goes at running my own yard and riding out racehorses in the mornings to pay the bills. Some long time clients invited me to base with them and I was riding 14-16 horses a day. It was insane,but said clients wanted to event and needed someone to school and produce their horses.Opportunity knocked.

Moving to the new yard meant we needed hay and straw,and that’s when fate dealt me the ultimate trump card. I met Niall. Wonderful,special,funny,kind genuine Niall. We are together eleven years now,married for almost six of those and have a little boy called Charlie-That’s for another blog,though.

My clients started buying some very decent horses,and handing them to me to produce. One of those was a Porter Rhodes gelding called Rocky. He was almost as mental as Cruise but he was a bigger bastard and would drop you like a shot from panoramic heights. We headed to our first event,neck stap firmly in hand. I jumped on to do the stressage. He EXPLODED. He dropped me from about fifteen feet up and burst me in the face for good measure. He then turned totally wild and was roaming the Galway Serengeti at quite some speed. Annoyingly,no one had a tranquilliser gun but the fucker was eventually caught. With trepidation I got back on. Trepidation turned to temper on the Xc course and I gave it a proper Tony McCoy ride to finish 7th. I did a few more events on him-enough to know that he was a total machine-before the owners sent him to someone in the UK. He was sold on and contested two young rider europeans for Italy.I was pretty sick over it,and it started the beginning of the end with that owner.

Meanwhile,mother had bred a runt. Small,crooked-deformed even-with a terrible temper,even as a tiny foal. I loved him at once,of course. With the exception of Jj,it seemed normal horses were (still are) something that happened to other people so I got on with loving the psychos. Enter Misty. Horse of a lifetime number two.He was IMPOSSIBLE. Wouldn’t lead nor drag. He bit and kicked for fun,though. He also jumped. All by himself. He would canter loose around the arena and pop over whatever got in his way. The Badminton dream was ALIVE! Eventually we got him to sort of ride,and he completed his first event quite well. His travelling companion that day was a tall black horse belonging to the people I was still based with. The black horse that day won the 4 and 5 yr old class,landing me my first win ‘under rules’. That horse sold to Italy as well and is a nice intermediate eventer.

Mist continued to drive me insane. He had the ‘skillz’ but no way would he bend at the knee for me. By now I was living with Niall and we were just married. The first three events of the season resulted in a fourth and two wins. He then became increasingly more difficult and would fuck it up somewhere-penis behaviour in the dressage,alarming fence judges….I lost count of the times that he had it ‘in the bag’ only to have a disaster. He made it to 1* but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I decided to retire him to-you guessed it,SHOWJUMPING-and he loved it. It no longer mattered how berserk he was,the jumpers don’t care once the poles stay up. I evented his half brother a bit too. He was a prick of a horse-prettier than Mist but twice the size and with none of the work ethic. He napped like a motherfucker at ditches too which resulted in a lot of William Wallace style cross-country riding. He’s in America now and the horrid bastard is at advanced level….they must have threatened him with a crocodile or something.

Mist and I did our last event together two years ago. We were heading for the two day at Tattersalls but for good luck,it was rained off. I had wanted to event my whole life. Dreamed of it day and night. Suddenly a thought was occuring to me. I didn’t want to do this anymore……

From here to there to….nowhere?

When I was 10,someone bought me Ginny Leng’s autobiography. It lit a fire in my head. This was what I was going to do. At the time I had a particularly recalcitrant 12hh pony called Blue,who had a nasty habit of dumping his riders over the boundary fence onto the footpath on the other side. He was a brilliant pony if you either had no idea what you were doing or if you knew exactly what you were at. I thought I knew it all,but I knew bugger all so he had tremendous fun with me…. I was then given a 14 hh tb x Connemara who had done a lot of drag hunting. She was called Crumpet. Crumpet spent two years bolting at any opportunity and terrifying the crap out of me but gave me some sensational days hunting with the Quorn and Pytchley hunts.At the time,I had (for reasons still unknown) taken up polo in the pony club. Anyone who knows me well is aware that catching,throwing and general hand-eye coordination is totally beyond me. The phrase ‘like a retard trying to fuck a doorknob’ springs to mind. I had a machine of a Chilean mare who was vastly more intelligent than I,played the game all by herself and made me look far better than I was. I was picked for the team. That’s when the fun started.
The Chilean mare went lame. The rules for pony club are a bit odd and to stay on the team,I needed a replacement pony that had not played above low goal or in tournaments. At the time,I didn’t realise that this translated as ‘the crappy ones that no one else wants to ride’. Interestingly,this became the way it was for many years. So I arrived at a polo club and they produced two horrific specimens. The first one was built like a bus and had NO brakes and NO steering.None. De nada. Off it went,and it didn’t stop until it felt like it. Hitting a ball was out of the question. Fuck up number two was an emaciated argentine thoroughbred covered in scars with half his tongue missing. He was also in the most terrible rage and mostly unrideable.Naturally,we bought him.
LG’s story is long and complex but to summarise,eventually he came around and he was a hero. Our team won the championship at Cowdray that year because of a clever strategy. The three boys on the team were amazing players. I was not. My pony was tall and he bit like a motherfucker in a rideoff. I took out their best player,the three lads played a blinder and we won. In an entirely accidental and unforeseen move,I then started doing dressage with my angry chestnut. He was a star,competing at two junior national championships and a young rider championship. He also gave me a few good days hunting too.
After him came Katie. She was a machine out hunting but a liability in cold blood. She gave me plenty of great spins before selling to the Fingals.
You may notice that eventing features nowhere in any of this…..
Along came Ronnie. Ronnie was a two mile chaser that I had loved forever. He was mad. He had huge ears,a huge jump and he was a babe. I thought ‘at last! This is it!’ I applied for and got a job in an event yard in England,loaded up Ronnie and off we went.
To be continued…

Falling off the wagon,the Countdown theme tune and two amazing horses.

Further introduction to me…
I am a fat fucker. I love food. It loves me. I get fat just thinking about marsbars. I am on a perpetual diet. I fell off the diet wagon about two weeks ago and have been shoving bounty bars down my neck two at a time. My FITBIT says it’s fine because I walk about 20 kms a day with the yard work (apparently) and burn about 3000 calories (allegedly). FITBIT is a goddamn liar. So tomorrow I’m back on the stupid wagon. One massive chocolate fudge cake first though…..
I have ridden horses all my life. I am like an equestrian OAP now,a wise old owl with many an ancient mariner-esque tale to tell. I have seen it all,ridden it,fallen off it,heard it all. I had grand plans of giving Ginny Leng a fright when I grew up but that didn’t really happen. (I showjump now instead,but still not really a threat to Ludgar or Gerco) Now I use my wise owl knowledge (the bits I can remember after many concussions) to produce young horses. I am always looking for a horse that I want to keep. I haven’t found it thus far,but you can see all of the ones I have produced on my Pinterest page.
I currently have four equines-two big ones,two ponies. Because of the set up here,I very annoyingly have a companion for each horse. No one can be alone. The companions need companions when their companions are away. It’s batshit,but it works.
Mist is my last homebred. He’s 13 now. His story is for another day,but he is the nicest and most perfect horse a girl could ever have. He has taught me more than any other and he’s my best friend.
I also have Sunshine. Bred by Stracomer stables,I loved her the minute I saw her and so she’s here. She has a massive opinion of herself but she is vastly intelligent and needs to be your partner,not your servant. That suits me grand and she might just be the one I have been searching for.
We have the two companions-Lacey,who is a total celebrity and has a giant fan club and also Tony,who doesn’t have many fans and isn’t famous but Mist can’t live without him. Out-manoeuvred by a 10hh pony….sheesh…..
I have a dotty and senile one eyed cat who cannot ‘cat’ at all but anyway. I also have a scruffy terrier who has perfected the ISPCA abused dog look….’if you know a dog like George….’ And then there are two hens called Dot and Ethel. Dot is a quaint old dear but Ethel is less receptive to human intervention and flattens her neck out like a cobra if you catch her.
We also have about 150 cattle. Several pet cows. Again,they are a blog post all their own.
Last April I had a Charlie. He’s amazing. Huge blue eyes,bright red hair (no idea where he got that) and a wonderful temperament. Trying to fit
Horses around a baby and my many other commitments is almost impossible but you can learn how,here. Sort of.
My husband is a saint. He’s also messy and periodically VERY annoying,but he’s an absolute gent. He makes everything better and is the glue that sticks the whole poxy puzzle together. He’s an amazing dad and both the child and the horse love him MUCH MORE than me. That’s not upsetting AT ALL…..
Other assistance comes in the form of a fantastic baby minder four mornings a week,and about-to-be lights on my sand arena. I start at 5 most mornings to feed,muck out etc before Charlie wakes up,and the arena lights point to many late finishes but then once you have nice horses to ride,hurrah! I can still hear the countdown theme tune and I’m considering adding another hour to my reply when asked ‘how long will you be?’ Never mind,eh.
So there you have it.

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Introduce yourself…..oh god who the hell am I??

Hey. So. I decided to set up this blog just because. My life to me is pretty dull and also frustrating a lot of the time,but some other people said they liked my musings so here I am.

I am 34. I’m a mother of one amazing small boy (Charlie) and wife to a Niall,who runs a haulage business and is off in the big wheely thing a lot. We have a lot of cattle-sucklers-and we also do a bit of contracting in the summer. I produce sports horses for sale,run the odd clinic with international riders and try hard to improve myself as much as I can.

My list of interests is spectacular,and ranges from space and astrophysics to bones and anatomy to the study of people and asking ‘Why?’ a lot. I suffer with occasional bouts of postnatal depression and I will talk about that a bit too,sometimes. I am blessed with the people I can call ‘friend’,and im just trying to negotiate my way through life doing a bit of good and not being a cunt,really.

Stay tuned. Mad things happen here.