My name is Steffi de Bootman (I’m over 50 .but under 54..no need to put the details!)
I live in Norfolk and work in Westminster for the BBC - I work on the Regional desk at Westminster and look after all the regional political programmes etc for the UK. So that's quite a few including the 3 nations.
I was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. I loved horses from an early age and gave my Christmas presents up one year for riding lessons at a local school called Greenacres - fab eh.
I went to agricultural college in Aylesbury and studied to become an agricultural farm secretary - this was back in the 80's and we were the first bunch of girls allowed to get our hands dirty and do some farming - I was so proud when I passed my tractor driving test. Whilst at college I got to study Drama and Media which in reflection was an excellent idea but at the time i just thought was stupid as I really wanted to work with horses but my father said - "no money in horses".
After college I really didn't want to see or wear another pair of jeans in my life and much to my parent’s dismay went off to London - in the mean time they moved to Norfolk.
I moved to Norfolk when I was 21 met the most amazing person and I am so pleased to say it was him that bought me my first horse - the lovely Joey an Arab x Connie. My mother on seeing him (the horse) said funny little tail...oh yes it was because he was only three...and very nappy - we were together for 23 years and I loved him to bits.
I was lucky to get a job for the BBC based in Norwich which was brilliant but it was only a short contract 9 months but at the time I'd just been made redundant so I thought at least I know I've got a job and my pony will be ok - from there I worked as a casual at the local BBC radio station and finally found a job in London that I thought would be very interesting working for The World Tonight - unfortunately I didn't get that job but I did get asked if I'd like to work on the Today programme to cover someone off sick - I put the phone down did a little dance and said yes please - that was it I started commuting up and down in my little mini for many years and totally enjoyed myself - Joey was brilliant and was never phased by me turning up at 4am to put him out or bring him in at 10pm - My dad was such a help and used to bring him in at night for me and feed him if I was on the night shift.
I stayed with the BBC until 2005 when after getting married I decided i wanted to live and work in the same county - I got the job as Press Officer for the International League for the Protection of Horses now known as World Horse Welfare. I stayed until the December and went on to work with them as a consultant so I could concentrate on one specific project - The Right Weight - I am so proud of this and I loved the work we did and the work this amazing charity does. In 2007 I went back to the BBC working locally and after that job closed I started again in 2009 commuting back and forth to London.
Whilst working as a consultant I met up with a really inspiring Saddler Liz from Mill Saddlery and every Tuesday I would be with her to see the fitting of the saddles to the WHW horses and the ones leaving to go to new homes. I was inspired and was able to attend the Master Saddlers Introduction to Saddle Fitting - and from this am continuing to do a course that is recognised internationally - although it is taking me an age to get myself through as time, money and work get in the way!
I have two lovely horses from WHW after I lost my beloved Joey I started to look for a horse - it took over a year. But like joey when I sat on Eek I just knew it was the right horse - Eek had just been backed and started - they still hadn't got her to be mounted from a block - it was a leg up but as my husband has MS it was something I spent the first couple of weeks teaching her to do, on off on off on off stand still etc.
I have to remember that Eek was running wild on the welsh mountains for most of her life and she still has that I’m ok without you mum when she feels like it - WHW Valentine - or Tia as I call her was my companion pony - I was so lucky to have the Eek I said and who are you having the most difficulty in rehoming? without any hesitation they said Tia...so Tia came home too - she is 13.2hh of sheet willpower - she is the boss and once you understand that...all is well. She knocked me off my feet more than once and is just Tia but I do indeed love the little grey pony...