by Samantha Hobden
Nearly ten years ago when the internet was starting to implode in our lives, I started searching for equestrian blogs particularly ones that helped with schooling problems with my horse. That was when I stumbled across School Your Horse by Lorraine Jennings. She was writing brilliant posts in a clear and concise way so that any rider could understand in dealing with their schooling dilemmas. Lorraine’s weekly posts were aimed at a novice like myself or the more experienced rider, giving her high level of dressage knowledge all for free!
A Wealth of Equestrian Knowledge
When I started writing my own equestrian blog, it came to me to house these blogs and advice all under one roof. Haynet was then created. Within a couple of weeks of its launch, I contacted Lorraine to see if she would like her blog featured. From that day onwards, a warm and supportive friendship developed and we became online buddies. Lorraine became Haynet’s “Anything Equine Agony Aunt” where she advised, helped and laughed with Haynet members with their equestrian woes.
Her advice was invaluable and she soon became respected by her online following. With a revamped website, Lorraine offered downloadable booklets for riders which helped many solve the frustrations that schooling horses can bring. Her School Your Horse blog was also a finalist in the Equestrian Social Media Awards and her writing extended to articles in Pony Magazine and Horse & Rider.
A Life Full of Horses
Having had horses all her life, Lorraine worked in most spheres of riding from polo, eventing, show jumping, hunting and dressage. Dressage was her real passion and she competed her own horses to Medium level and trained to PSG. She adored her horses but particularly Polson who was her ”once in a lifetime horse”… In her later years, she was a groom on a private estate and concentrated on her writing. Her sole aim was to make sure that schooling would not be boring and her advice reflected this through her blog.
Lorraine enjoyed social media, particularly the Twitter community where she felt most at home. She helped horse riders through the platform with many becoming firm friends. She was always at the end of an email or the phone in helping me with problems I had with my own horse. She was a tower of strength in the support she gave me when I lost Zeb last year. In recent years Lorraine had taken a quieter step back from online life working in the real world but I know her passion for horses and giving advice was never far away.
Sadly last month, Lorraine’s life was tragically cut short in a car accident, leaving her loving family devastated. She was forty eight… the same age as me. I have been shocked by her sudden passing and felt the need to write this tribute to her. Her close online friends have also been extremely saddened by her loss. Here are their personal tributes:
I first spoke with Lorraine before I went to uni, it must have been 8 or 9 years ago now. She gave me some advice with the horse I had at the time, and we spoke on social media frequently. Since then we’ve spoken nearly every week on Twitter. She was always so kind and helpful, offering her horse advice freely. But she also had a great sense of humour and will be missed so much. Maddie from Mads Outdoors
Lorraine was such an incredible source of support, a driving force for schooling information and a genuinely fun lady who always offered a word of encouragement. She will be sorely missed. Marie from Blind Equestrian
“Like the creation of the universe, the Friday #cutepoker on Twitter came together with an almighty bang and grew to many thousand tweets. Lorraine, along with Maddi, Kate, Carol and I would find the cutest, daftest funniest animal pictures to play each Friday…and boy didn’t Lorraine find some corkers! Although we loved horses, otters were the trump cards in #cutepoker. We all gained nicknames – Lorraine was Pudding (that great Yorkshire delicacy) and I ended up as Hobbit as I live in the Shire (Maddi was Pugwash, Kate a Muggle and I’ll save Carol’s blushes with her nickname)- names which stuck over the years we played. Pudding (I really can’t think of her as Lorraine) had a wicked sense of humour with a quick wit to repartee a tweet. Although we have never met, her loss has left a huge hole in the Crazy Gang. Thank you Lorraine, for being part of our lives and thank you to her family for sharing her with us.” Helen “Hobbit” Watkins
Speaking with her family, they feel that her writing should carry on being published. Therefore I will continue to share her equestrian wealth of knowledge through her posts on Haynet. This I hope will be her legacy continuing to help riders with their schooling problems. Lorraine will always be remembered as a lovely down to earth Yorkshire lass (and in her words) “from ooop norf”. She will be incredibly missed.
In loving memory of Lorraine Jennings 1970 – 2019
Donations in her memory can be made to Cancer Research