Steffi lives in Norfolk and works in in Westminster for the BBC looking after all the regional programmes for the UK.
Born in Hertfordshire spending her childhood riding ponies, Steffi continued her countryside passion by attending agricultural college in Aylesbury. At the age of 21, Steffi her first horse, the lovely Joey an Arab x Connie. She loved him to bits and they were together for 23 years.
With her career moving towards journalism and working within television, Steffi continued her love for horses working as the Press Officer for the International League for the Protection of Horses which is now known as the World Horse Welfare. Steffi worked as a consultant with them on the well known project “The Right Weight” highlighting obesity issues among the horse population.
Whilst working as a consultant for WHW, Steffi felt inspired to start studying to become a saddle fitter. These studies however have to be juggled in with work and her horses!
Steffi has two horses from the WHW after she lost her beloved Joey. Today her life is a juggle of commuting to London, having weekly lessons with her little Arab, walking her two dogs and looking after three cats and chickens! Steffi promises to give us a very interesting insight into her countryside life by being a Featured Blogger for Haynet.

When your health stops play! by Steffi de Bootman

I haven’t written for a while…it's been busy at work and in the spring my asthma starts to play up. It does it every year but this year I was struggling more than normal.  Finally I got past the receptionist at my local gp surgery and let’s be honest us horse types are quite a hardy lot! Well it appears it wasn’t my asthma but err my heart which made more sense why I struggled so much in my lesson with Nerys. I was particularly out of breath at the end. Eek was simply amazing and I really felt we’d achieved something, but I was simply exhausted.


Well as I’m sure any of you know A&E after a bank holiday is never good and on the Tuesday it was simply full to bursting as all types of illness and injury came in.  I spent twenty four hours at King’s Lynn QE2 Hospital, staff it goes without saying was simply amazing but I was happy to leave.


Knowing I wouldn’t be able to ride for a day or two I accepted it and just sat still, I’m not very good at doing that but I did discover that you can watch loads of dressage, jumping and eventing online woohoo!


I’m so frustrated because not only has that meant I can’t ride my beloved pony but I’m struggling to walk the dogs too. I am also not at work with so much going on with the election.  I’ve had a few chats with work chums as to what is going on and what I can or can’t do but a return to hospital confirmed I needed a few more weeks off.


I keep thinking I will be well quickly …say a week maybe two but it’s been an entire month since I last sat on the lovely eek. She is having a ball though just eating and getting fat.  Tia her companion is keeping her moving but I thought we were on course to do some dressage this season after so many false starts.


I had two trips out to a local CCI event I watched the dressage on a particularly hot day and it was great sitting and watching some well known riders on younger horses. However it was also tinged with some sadness as someone I’d admired as being a plucky horsewoman left the arena with her horse damaged by spurs.  I know a lot of people nowadays would have taken a photo and posted it on social media saying how awful but I felt that at an FEI event it was the official's’ role to do this.  I clearly heard them saying about it and was so disappointed with the response from the rider.  I’ve written to the event to find out why the rider was allowed to continue.


So as I sit writing this at the kitchen table I did actually sit on the Eek yesterday and managed to walk her about in the arena for half an hour - so onward and upwards.

When You Appreciate Those Animals Around You Just That Little Bit More by Steffi Bootman

Wow so much has happened since I last posted…


At Westminster a Budget and Article 50 being triggered has meant a really busy time most of the regional Political Editors have been in London and want a live at 1830 and it simply has to be top of the programme.  I have to do a lot of begging and deal making on my part to ensure they all get on air.  I did have a slight wobble on Article 50 day but all went off well in the end.


On the pony calendar of events and treatments it’s been new shoes for Eek and a trim for Tia who really doesn’t help Tomas much...She might only be 13.3 but she can lean like a 17.2 if she feels like it.  Eek for the first time ever managed to pull a shoe off in the field (the day before Tomas was due)...the look of glee on her face as she went oh dear no you can’t ride me can you…and skipped off…When Tomas looked at it he said “she’s done a proper job with that one”.


I try and have a lesson on a Friday (if I can afford it) and this particular day it was raining and really raining and I felt smug as I loaded up Eek. The joy of having the opportunity to ride in a very large, light and bright school is just wonderful.  Pole work at nearly 17 you’d think Eek would be cool with, but she’d never seen colour poles before, so as we glided gracefully round the school to the lovely poles put out at slants Eek demonstrated the Eek moment!  I’m sure you’ve seen that amazing poster that went round the facebook pages a while ago with the rider saying …it’s a puddle and the horse has its head on the ground front legs wide apart going what the hell is that…well that was Eek and the poles..Rachel laughed so hard she nearly fell over…we continued and after the initial EEK we went over rather nicely.  


Next on the horse appointment diary... Dawn McCaig an equine and human musculoskeletal Therapist McTimoney specialist.  Dawn treats me (I had a bad car accident a long time ago but it has left me with problems with my neck, and one of my legs) basically Dawn puts me straight again and that really helps not just me but Eek.


Tia had her regular check up and jabs being a perfect angel for our vet Howard from Wensum Valley and to finish their treatment diary it’s also been their regular six monthly Teeth check with the very patient Carrie Massingham from Newmarket.  Horses keep you poor!


I went along to a “Weight Aids Workshop” by Sylvia Loch in deepest Suffolk.  It was truly amazing and inspirational.  I had a great evening with a fab group of people.


I must mention the awful day of the Westminster attack and the death and injury to all those poor people.  I was about to go out of the building when I took a call saying something was going on.  As we started to work out what was happening and checking everyone was safe whilst also reporting.  It was eerily quiet after the initial rushing about as the police moved everyone away from the Houses of Parliament and we were in lockdown.  We reported from the 5th floor balcony and you can see no cars, just police standing on guard.



When something like this happens you have to think how lucky you are and that weekend I just rode as much as I could and spent time with all my animals.


A Working Rest by Steffi de Bootman

I have been off recently as Parliament was in recess and I had holiday to use up so hoping that it wouldn’t snow too much I thought pony pony pony – which amuses all my London work friends.


My lovely ponies are kept with Laura about two miles from where I live on the land Laura’s family own.  They all live out.  I had stables until last year and I’m currently “saving” for new ones for home.


I’m horse obsessed and I blame a school trip when I was aged about five to visit the metropolitan horses I’m not quite sure how our teacher sorted this amazing visit but the main thing I can remember is that the horses were enormous and one was white and the other one was orange.  The police officer with the orange horse said “you look like a tidier lifted me up and put me on the horse…that was it from that day on I wanted a horse.  The Police Officer turned out to be Ted Barns whom I later worked with at ILPH.


I live in rural Norfolk and work in London so it’s a very early start Monday to Thursday – the alarm goes off at 4am (used to be 3am but my hours have changed recently and it's rather nice having that extra hour in bed) reluctantly I get up Twigglet (dog) and I wanted downstairs met by Blueberry (dog) and generally one of the cats.


Donning the much loved by all horse owners headtorch we go off for our walk it’s never that long in the morning during the week and usually Twigglet says when it's time to come back home.  In the summer we go much further.  I feed the dogs mix up the pony feeds and hop into my car.


Three faces greet me waiting at the gate for breakfast – Brad Laura’s thoroughbred that’s been off due to injury who has decided he is top horse and must be fed first, reluctantly my lovely paddock pony Tia has let him take charge, and then she’s next she might only be 13.2 but its 13.2 of sheer determination.  Then finally the lovely Eek …I check them all over making sure all rugs are ok feet picked out which sometimes takes longer than it should and do a wiz about poo picking…a run to check the water and then by that time they probably all finished their breakfast and decide it's time for a roll – synchronised rolling.


Then it’s a rush to get ready to get the train.  I’ve been trying to keep fit by walking from the station along with saving a bit of money on the tube fairs so I can put the money to riding lessons!


From the time I walk into the newsroom to the time I leave its rushing about and I really don’t get much chance to think about anything else.


At the moment Laura has been checking on the girls in the evening for me so I don’t have to and can go straight home.  We’ve had so much grass this year the girls haven’t actually lost all their summer weight and are getting a bit fed up with me brandishing the weigh tape.  (I’ve attached a photo so you can see the grass!)


So back to today Eek can be “challenging” to be caught which I find totally frustrating as I’ve never had a horse that doesn’t come up to me before…I’ve tried everything turning up in my usual feeding clothes, catching and letting her go and practically everything else, my current and somewhat eccentric (so my farrier Tomas says) method is a very long line.  I hook it up to the fence and then without looking at her walk around and then slowly walk towards her and she generally goes ok where’s the mint and says you can catch me now.  She loves a cuddle and a brush.


Eek got her name because she basically spends her life going eek eek what is that eek however she is so sweet and lovely today she was more worried that the builders had cleared the hedge than the digger moving a big white plastic bag full of debris to tip into a truck that wasn’t at all scary…Hector never worries about anything although we did all laugh as the two dogs ran from the gate to the field hedge and woofed.


I’m hoping to be back with Rachel my trainer next week to do some competitions I’m delighted to find out about British Dressage Arab League oh yes!  I’m sure many of you know about Interdressage the online dressage site where you can compete it’s a fantastic way of getting an idea of how you are progressing and riding at home before you go out and about.

The sun has burnt off the frost and I’m going to clean my tack and then poo pick the field then off to ride the Eek…we are practicing walk to canter transitions out on our hack…its been a bit hit and miss this week so far more like bounce to gallop!

Just a Little Bit About Me! by Steffi de Bootman

My name is Steffi de Bootman (I’m over 50 .but under 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 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...