Eight wonders of 2016

This has been one of the most exciting years we have ever had here at Cannock Chase Trekking Centre.
I think every month has brought us something thrilling, from the start of the redevelopment to putting the gorgeous Tia back in foal to my Dutch warmblood stallion Zidane; from starting our lovely Longdon weekend trail rides to a hugely successful Sheriff’s Ride.
I am looking forward so much to what 2017 brings us, but here is my look back – Eight Wonders Of 2016.

Number One: This has to be the start of our new build back in January. I had been waiting for so many years to redevelop the centre, and here were the diggers to break ground and get under way with our fabulous lodge building and our covered arena.

Unfortunately the weather was wet and it was the start of weeks of living and working surrounded by mud, but it was a small price to pay. It was very strange working with machinery and builders all around us and sending treks out from the back field, but staff, clients and horses all took it in their stride. W
e were all so excited – we were going from “The Pits” to “The Ritz”.
Number Two: The completion of the indoor riding arena. It was fantastic to have such great facilities, with mirrors, flood lights and a state of the art Martin Collins floor. Now we could start riding lessons, bring on board our coach Karen Hudson, and ride in any weathers and at any time of day or night. The world is our oyster!
Number Three: Starting pony clubs for young riders. We now offer club activities in three age groups ranging from four to sixteen. There’s lots of games, fun, riding and learning about ponies. Now I am looking at one for adults too! And I have loads more plans, including Western riding, horse ball and mounted archery.
Number Four:

Fitness classes. I am a strong believer in the importance of physical fitness to aid riding, and as the year came to a close we were able to hold our first mounted fitness classes. Equifit and Equilates – which combines elements of yoga, pilates and Tai-Chi – will continue next year. Book in to get fit and toned for the summer!
Number Five: I have always used bareback riding as a way of keeping fit and strengthening my core. It is also a wonderful way of feeling at one with your horse. We have now started Intro to Bareback Riding sessions in the arena and I think they will prove very popular.
Number Six: Our beautiful bistro. The Lodge is everything I dreamed of and more. We are offering Barista coffee, amazing hot chocolate and delicious home cooked food. We are really excited about the future and what we can do here. Think of early morning breakfast rides, barbeque rides, parties and corporate events. We seem to be evolving in a tex-mex ranch style and we want to make sure we carry on serving fantastic food and drinks.

Number Seven: Another exciting first for the Centre was when I became a qualified first responder. I have installed a medical room in the lodge and I can now carry a trauma kit. We will be holding first aid training courses from basic to advanced here at the Centre.

Number Eight: Over the years we have had lots of enquiries from people wanting to hold corporate events or birthday parties, so we now have the facilities to do that here in the new lodge. We have held our first ‘Trekworking’ event when our business visitors combined their meeting with lunch and a trek out on the Chase. It was such a success that early booking will be essential for the next one!


Benson is a handsome bay Welsh Section D who came to me in a ‘swap’ deal.  I had bought a little coloured cob called Basil who was an absolutely safe and perfect ride for the clients.  But he was a real pain who turned our peaceful and happy herd upside down!  He was very naughty with the other ponies in the field.  He acted like a rig (a horse that is gelded but behaves like a stallion), making it difficult for the staff to get the other horses in, and then he injured both Buttons and Galaxy.

We gave him a few months, but it wasn’t working out, so I advertised him as suitable for a yard where only geldings were kept. Luckily, I was contacted by a lady who ran a riding school and used only geldings. She told me she had a nice young horse who wasn’t enjoying working in the school and offered to bring Benson with her when she came to see Basil.
It was the perfect deal. She liked Basil – and he has done a great job for her – and I loved Benson, so he stayed here at the Trekking Centre and really thrived.
Benson is still a young horse and is still learning and we find that he will now work nicely in the school. He looks fabulous in Western tack and is great for people who have done a little bit of riding and need a confidence giver.

He is not as touch button as some of the other horses and you have to ride him. But when you get him going he has beautiful paces and really flies. He has been used as a lead hor
se, went like a dream on the beach on the Welsh holiday and was a star on the Sheriff’s Ride.
We have now found he loves jumping so he will be an exciting one to look forward to when we start our new cross country lessons.

Beautiful Beau

Beautiful Beau really is our golden boy – a fully papered Austrian Haflinger with a gorgeous palamino coat.  He is a well bred lad with a very posh registered name – Stagsden Abbott – but I think Beau suits him perfectly.
He was originally bought by some friends of mine, but they were finding him a little bit of a handful. Beau was a bit too sharp for them to deal with happily, so they approached me and said he probably needed more exercise than they were able to give him.
I hadn’t handled a Haflinger before but when I went to look at him I could see he was hardy and a strong weight-carrying little horse so I thought I would give him a go.
He was already living on the Chase and at the time did not box very well, although he is perfect now, so I rode over and had somebody bring my horse back. I rode Beau home and took an instant liking to him.

I found him to be very lovable and confident, but from day one I had to be quite strong with the ground rules. He could be quite opinionated!
Beau can still be cheeky, but we love him for that – it is just part of his personality. He really catches the eye with his colour and his wild blonde mane.
He has gone on to be a great all-rounder. He is ridden by both children and adults and takes in his stride everything from the beach holidays in Wales to the Sheriff’s Ride.
I think he is going to be very popular in our new bareback lessons in the arena because he is so comfortable to ride.

Youngsters join the team!

This has been such an exciting summer here at the trekking centre – not least because we have welcomed three new additions to our fabulous team of horses.
All three are gorgeous youngsters full of potential and I am sure we are going to have years of fun with them.


I bought PELE in April from an Andalucian stud. He is a five-year-old  full-bred Spanish Andalucian – the best of the best and his sire was Spanish champion.
He was an exciting find. I hit it off straightaway with Helen who owns the stud and she has his full brothers and sisters and lots of young stock. We are looking to form a bit of a partnership so there may be more arrivals in the future.
We were looking for another big horse and I fell in love with him straightaway. I would normally push on immediately with training an unbroken young horse but because of our trekking centre redevelopment it has taken me a long time with Pele.
And in a way that has proved better for him. He is quite sensitive and it has benefitted him to take everything slowly. I have done lots of playing with him in the arena, loose schooling and long reining and just spending hours together.
It took me days to lean over him and then get on his back. But when it came to it he didn’t mind at all. Now we are working on his extensions and he is looking amazing in the arena.
He eats up the terrain on the Chase, he will walk through every puddle and stream, ignores every mountain bike and is going to be a massive asset to the centre.
He has settled in very well with the herd and has a best friend in Summer. They are never far apart.
The only downside is he is prone to sweet itch. But with good management we have controlled it and he is growing a lovely long mane.
I am getting to the point now when everyone else wants to ride him – and I really want to keep him for myself! But I think the time is coming when I’ll have to share him with the rest of the world.


Our next exciting youngster is SAHARA. She is a pink-papered pure bred Oldenburg and came here as a yearling foal with her mother Saminca from the lady who sold me our fantastic stallion Zidane.
Because Sahara looked a little backward and clearly had a lot of growing to do I have left her until five years old to train her.
She has proved very different to the sensitive Pele. I think because she has been brought up here and is comfortable with her place in the herd she is very relaxed and doesn’t have a care in the world.
She hasn’t batted an eye at anything in her training, and now she just needs to go out and learn her job. I think she will turn out to be very much like Autumn – despite being as finely bred as Saminca and Zidane.


The home-bred DAKOTA is probably my most exciting youngster because he has come from my own personal horse Zidane.
I always dreamed of having a trekking centre and a stud so that I could breed from my own lovely mares.
And Dakota, now four, is the start of that, the first foal from my Dutch Warmblood stallion. His mother was Nicoh, a Grade A Appaloosa and he was the most exciting baby, born coloured and spotted. He was spectacular.
From day one he was very much like his dad in nature and very bright and alert. I can’t believe the time to train him has come round so fast.
He has taken everything in his stride so far and is proving very bold and trainable. I think from the way he moves that he will be quite special. He floats and his paces are excellent.
I know a lot of the clients are watching him closely but he is not ready yet. He is not quite finished and he is something for everyone to look forward to next year.
All three are lovely exciting horses, beautifully bred and beautiful looking. They have so much potential. Roll on 2017!