Throughout the month of August, I posted through the #HorseBloggers channel a top tip every day in keeping topics flowing when it comes to blogging about all things equine. I have decided to write thirty one posts, each taking on board the tips that I recommended. So my fourth post is an equestrian photo going back in time and what memories I have of it.
So this picture is of myself back in the saddle in the spring of 2003. I am with my best friend Rhonda at her home where she had also returned to horse ownership a few years previously. She had talked me into coming out for a ride with her, something I had not done for ten years. Little did I know when that photo was taken, putting my foot in those stirrups would bring the equestrian bug galloping back!
Riding Through My Childhood
I had ridden in my childhood at my local riding school only to give up when the teenage years arrived and interests changed. In my early twenties, I returned to the saddle again through a riding school but those times were few and far between and something just didn’t grab me to take it back up on a regular basis. Roll on ten years later and now a mum to two young boys, I felt it was time to actually have a few hours away being Sam and doing something that was for my pure enjoyment. So with riding boots dusted off and with my friend’s encouragement, I got back in the saddle riding Freddie a lovely, kind veteran thoroughbred. I was feeling nervous riding through the fields and woodlands but I just loved being free riding a horse again. From that day on, I became horse obsessed again…
Buying My First Horse By Accident
I continued to ride out regularly and started part loaning Shamus, a super cob riding him twice a week which I loved. I learned so much from dealing with his tack, mucking him out and dealing with naps and quirks riding out. After about six months he moved to a different yard and it became difficult to ride regularly. After seeing an advert in my local saddlery, I started riding at a yard close to home hacking out another super thoroughbred. This yard had a number of horses and a big warmblood arrived after finishing his grade B showjumping days, with a couple of liveries sharing him with a view to potentially event locally. Every time I would arrive at the yard, this warmblood’s neck would wind out the stable like a giraffe pestering for treats which I always made sure I had a polo for him. I watched him being ridden out and loaded on the trailer for eventing training…which wasn’t a great success. The owner wanted to sell him on and it was my friend’s job to find him a new owner.
I had grown really fond of this huge warmblood but it didn’t even enter my head to buy him. I watched a vet turn up to give him a five star vetting as a new owner had been found and if he passed he would be travelling up country to his new home. All I did know was that I would miss his friendly face and kind eyes when the time came for him to leave. He failed the vetting on his stifle and the potential owner disappeared back up country with her nose back in the Horse and Hound for sale section. His owner had reduced the price and wanted him moved on. My friend said to me would I be interested? He was a good price and why not ride him out and give him a try.
So we popped a saddle on him and I climbed the mounting block to mount this 17.2 giraffe and off we went. I found him such a comfortable ride and you found that despite his height, he looked after you. So I went home to my young family and tried to work out how was I going to factor in this huge horse in my life if I bought him. I had him on trial for six weeks which was a huge learning curve, but I absolutely loved him and despite a few spooks here and there he just felt so safe and did not have a hurtful bone in his body. My family were not thrilled with the idea and I was also running a business at the time, so how was I going to fit this horse into our life? After a lot of thought I went with my gut feeling that if I didn’t grab this opportunity now, I would miss owning such a lovely horse. So I said yes…. And paid for him with all of my savings that I had put away for a rainy day.
My Horse In A Million
Nearly fourteen years on, Zeb is still with me and will be with me until that dreaded day when rainbow bridge calls. This horse in my eyes has been one in a million, it’s making me get choked up just talking about how super this horse is. We have had some really good times and we have had bad times too but we have ridden through them together. So yes, this picture speaks a turning point for me in my life and thanks to my best friend, it certainly trotted my way to horse ownership!
by Samantha Hobden