Blizzards and Droughts


It’s that time of the year when I always take a look back at the year just ending here at the Trekking Centre and start thinking about the year to come.

I find it helps me plan and come up with new ideas but when I look back at 2018 I am still amazed by the challenges caused by the weather.

No trekking today!

A cold but cosy winter at the Trekking Centre

The winter was surely the most severe I have see. since I opened the trekking centre. The snow began even before Christmas and disrupted our festive rides, but our hardy riders wrapped up warmly to brave the Chase as soon as the ice melted.

Our Ranch Bistro offers a warm welcome inside

It was a massive help to have our lovely visitors’ centre and bistro so we had cosy surroundings to thaw out in – we had a snug ski lodge atmosphere with the log fire blazing – and our arena kept the horses moving when conditions were bad.

But of course worse was to come when The Beast From The East roared in with blizzards and deep drifts and hard frosts put paid to our fun for a few days.

Summer was a hot challenge….

And it seemed that no sooner had the long-awaited spring arrived than we were facing another weather test. Summer came with long hot days and a record breaking drought – no rain means no grass!

I ended up having to feed the herd with hay rations through most of the summer.

Special occasions, super fun….

A summer evening’s trek to the Indian restaurant

There was a consolation though – gorgeous evenings when our clients enjoyed barbecue rides and our first ridden expedition to a local Indian restaurant. Both were voted a great success and I am looking forward to doing both again in summer 2019.

Enjoying the glorious sunset on our return to the yard

We had so many activities on offer through the year – children’s activity days, pony club, and home on the range. And for adults the cross country clinics taken by myself and our instructor Karen were very popular.

We have had hen and stag parties, corporate days, team building days, and celebrated the Royal Wedding. All day rides with lunch back at the centre also went well and for 2019 I am hoping we can reinstate our popular pub rides. Our two-day trek with an overnight stay in Longdon was greatly enjoyed and I hope we will do that again.

Lisa sets the standard for her saddleless classes

My saddle-less riding clinics have really captured the imagination. Riders are loving learning new skills and improving balance and I now have both beginners’ and experienced rider classes most weeks.

Group saddleless riding class

Our annual highlight, the Sheriff of Lichfield traditional beating the bounds ride, was our best ever. We took 25 horses – including Dakota, Sahara, Kitty and Wispa, who were making their debuts. Like the rest of

A perfect Ranch Bistro start to the day

the team, they looked gorgeous and behaved impeccably.


Our Bistro cooks up a recipe for success….

In the bistro we have settled on a menu that captures our ranch style, and we have many visitors now who are not riders. And we were very proud to be awarded again our five-star hygiene rating.

Horses, horses and more horses….

There were some sad goodbyes and warm welcomes in the horse herd. Saminca and Leo moved on to private homes and one of my most popular horses, Galaxy, started a new life in well earned retirement.

Kitty practising her dressage moves

Stepping in was the stunning Friesian mare Kitty. I think we have all fallen in love with this spectacular but very kind and gentle mare. Joining her later in the year was our new big boy Tyri, a dramatically marked Appaloosa cross. He has competed to quite a high level in dressage but he loves best to be cantering along out on the Chase. What a happy horse he has turned out to be!

Saminca’s full bred Oldenburg daughter Sahara is proving to be an absolute delight for our experienced riders and will excel in the school I am sure.

And I am so proud when I am out leading a trek to see three of our home breds trotting along behind. My Dutch warmblood stallion Zidane’s sons Dakota and Oregon and daughter Arizona joined the treks in 2018 and are already very popular. It won’t be long before Dakota’s full sister Indiana joins them.

Sister Nymeria : “We are family”

And 2019 will also see another new arrival available for clients. I am currently training our beautiful Andalusian mare Nymeria, full sister to my lead horse Pele, and she will be a wonderful addition to the team.

The year brought us one or two health worries. Jake was out of action for a little while, Indiana had surgery for sarcoids and Lola was hurt in an accident with a gate. Zidane’s teeth bothered him again. All now have a clean bill of health but I am grateful our vets at Pool House have opened a new equine hospital. I was honoured with my partner Mark to be on the guest list when it was officially opened by Prince Charles.

2019 – an exciting year ahead….

So there we are, goodbye 2018 with all its challenges. As for 2019, I have all sorts of plans brewing!

More barbecue rides, event nights, Indian restaurant rides, special kids’ activities and I am investigating possible riding holiday venues.

Indiana and Nymeria will be joining the treks and Montana’s training will start. There’s a lot to look forward to, so a very happy New Year to you all!




ZIDANE – Dutch Warmblood Stallion

ZIDANE – Dutch Warmblood 16’2 Licensed KWPN Tobiano Stallion by Samber

When I hear people talk about “the horse of a lifetime” I always think about how very lucky I am, because I have three.

I never take my good fortune for granted – I know how very special all of my boys are.

There is Chase, my 4 x 4;  my sports car Pele and then there is Zidane, my Ferrari and my gift to myself on a significant birthday. And while I absolutely adore Chase and Pele, my relationship with Zidane has an extra dimension. I suppose you could say this is a love story.

cannock chas trekking centre, dutch warmblood










This stunningly handsome and intelligent horse is a Dutch warmblood by the legendary  sire Samber, who was the first coloured stallion to be registered in the KWPN stud book.  He has passed on his exceptional looks and temperament to his son.

Zidane came into my life when I decided to breed again from my mare Sophie, one of my original trekking horses. She had already produced our lovely Atlantis and my friend Lucy had bred her mare Eclipse from her.

Originally I was going to put her in foal to a Friesian, but my stud vet recommended something finer and suggested a Dutch Warmblood.  I rather fancied trying for a coloured foal, so Lucy began the search for a suitable daddy who could do natural covering.











Lucy found two local stallions and as soon as I saw the photographs I fell in love with one of them. He reminded me of my father’s showjumpers and because he was coloured he was spectacular. It was Zidane.

I rang his owner to inquire about putting my mare in foal and she told me that on that very day she had lost her grazing and she was going to have to sell him.

Coincidentally, a few days before I had sold a horse and my 40th birthday was close. Zidane’s owner was telling me what a special horse he was and that she believed in fate.

She didn’t want him to end up on a yard where he would be standing in a stable all the time. With me he would lead a very natural life with daily turn out, riding out with company as well as continuing his stud work.

My ultimate dream had always been a trekking centre and a stud and I could feel my heart starting to rule my head – and suddenly I had bought him over the phone without even seeing him!


dutch warmblood, cannock chase trekking centre dutch warm blood, cannock chase trekking centre

dutch warmblood, cannock chase trekking centre










I was so worried I had made a mistake, but something in my gut was telling me to go for it. When the horse box arrived next day and the lady gave me the paperwork I felt quite sick!

But then she dropped the ramp and I saw Zidane in the flesh for the first time. I just cried. I had never had that emotional response to a horse before. He literally took my breath away.

I realised immediately it was the best decision I had ever made regarding a horse purchase.

At first I tried long reining him, but he pulled me, his former owner had advised me to just get on and ride him. So I did, and he was perfect and always has been. Since then we have done everything from taking treks to swimming in the sea and leading Sheriff of Lichfield’s rides.


dutch warmblood, cannock chase trekking centre

Enjoying the sea at Fairbourne Beach











We never did have a foal from Sophie,  but we have six beauties from other mares and they are already proving they have his fantastic looks and nature. Those that have been broken in are athletic and ride like sports horses.

Zidane and I have a lot of fun together since I built the arena. We do lots of riding in there virtually tackless. He is incredibly responsive.

One of my most heartwarming memories is when the two of us gave a display at our trekking centre open day. At the end the audience all rushed to surround him as if he was a famous movie star. He stood there quietly and graciously and allowed all the children to stroke and pat him.

cannock chase trekking centre, dutch warmblood

Performing at our Open Day

Trekking Centre Open Day

Greeting the crowds
















He loves to be fussed and to be with humans – especially me. When I am away he is really the only one that misses me!  He trashes his stable and my staff tell me he paces the field looking out for me – I totally adore him.

Our relationship is quite different to the one I have with the other horses. He is the only horse I have ever bought that was just for me and he is very much my own boy.

Zidane is the birthday gift that keeps on giving. He will be making more babies for me next year.  We are now considering offering natural cover with him from the trekking centre, as I have been asked quite a lot to do this.  So, if you are thinking of a stallion for your mare he is definitely worth considering, he is simply AMAZING.  For further information follow the link below to our Chase Stud page.

Dakota – Baby of Zidane and Nicoh

Oregon – Baby of Zidane & Wispa

Indiana & Arizona – Babies of Nicoh & Tia with Zidane











Montana – Baby of Zidane and Larosa

Colorado – Baby of Zidane & Tia

Pele – Rose Grey Andalusian

PELE – rose grey Andalusian

Well, I don’t know how it happened but it did! How can I possibly have reached P on our alphabetical tour of the trekking centre and left out my beautiful boy?

Look back at my blogs and there is Paddy and then it jumps to Pirate! No Pele!

So I am putting that right and I hope you all enjoy reading his blog, he is my big, bold and brave friend who would carry me into any battle.

Pele is an Andalusian, otherwise known as PRE – or Pure Spanish Horse – and his name is Pele Rose.







I bought him when I decided to look for a new big horse for the trekking centre and I set my trusted friend Lucy the task of finding a suitable candidate. She came across a five-year-old living in Shrewsbury. I spoke to his owner – who has now become a friend – and she told me he was unbroken and still living naturally in his herd.

She had received many inquiries but was looking for a special home for a very sensitive young horse and I assured her that I would not mess her around. I took Emily, a member of my staff, with me when I went to see him and we found him loose in a barn with two other horses.

I loved him as soon as I saw him. He was very handsome. I put a halter on him and did a little bit of join-up to see how sensitive he was and if I could work with him.

Pele instantly joined up with me and was really interested in what I was doing. He showed lots of curiosity and was as intrigued by me as I was by him.

pele, cannock chase trekking

Working on join-up











I decided straight away that I would have him and I went back a couple of days later to fetch him, taking my yard manager Sonia. As Pele had never been on a horse box before we had back-up in the form of my lead horse Chase, always my right-hand man.

And we needed him. Chase went on and off the box to show Pele how to do it and ended up by physically pushing him on!

Once we got him home we stabled him, with Chase next door to reassure him, but after a few days he was still a little restless and I decided to turn him out with the rest of my horses. Pele settled into the herd immediately and made friends with our little Summer. They are an unlikely pair but still inseparable!

Pele was happy having his bridle on but was a bit more sensitive with the saddle. He loved the whole training process and the only tricky bit was getting on him. Every time I went up the mounting block his eyes popped out on stalks!

So I just kept on leaning over until we got to the point where he wasn’t worried any more and once I was on him he was great.

pele, cannock chase trekking centre

The first time I sat on Pele after training him











I found him to be very forward going and he thrives on work. With his strong build he is perfect for the trekking centre and the terrain of Cannock Chase. He takes hills as if they are not there.

But he has remained a very sensitive horse and for that reason he remains ridden by just me. We have developed a very strong bond.

pele, Cannock Chase trekking centre










We have led two Sheriff of Lichfield rides and he is now my main lead horse out on the treks.

pele, cannock chase trekking centre

Pele leading Lichfield Sheriffs Ride









Of course, everybody wants to ride him and for that reason I have been back to his breeder Helen and bought his beautiful full sister Nymeria Rose, who I am currently training.

pele, cannock chase trekking centre

Pele & Nymeria reunited








I am starting to think about maybe doing a little bit more with Pele, perhaps some jumping or trick riding. For a horse that is so sensitive he is very bold for me, he will just keep on powering forward until I tell him to stop. I have to ride him a little differently because he is so powerful – but I do love him, he is a really exciting horse to ride.

Zeus – Grey Connemara

ZEUS – grey Connemara

Now our alphabetical tour of the trekking centre stable yard is coming to an end. We have reached Z and centre stage this week is Zeus.

This super fun and reliable boy came to me from a good friend who I had already bought a couple of our gorgeous trekking centre horses from in the past.

My friend’s daughter contacted me to say they were overstocked and were thinking about parting with a couple of ponies. Would I be interested in either of them?

zeus, cannock chase trekking centre

Zeus out trekking








In particular they had a little lad about 14.2hh called Zeus, who could jump, had done a bit of cross country and was generally a forward going and enthusiastic character.

He was kept locally so I went to have a look and decided to give him a trial. Zeus was quite lively on his first day out on the Chase, but he settled in nicely for our clients and now has an important role here as he can take rider’s from beginners up to the any ability level.

His first outings in the arena were very funny because he kept returning to our instructor Karen for a little bit of love! He still occasionally grabs the chance for a quick cuddle, but not nearly as much as he used to.

He loves jumping and is quick but very safe, so has excelled in our summer cross country lessons.

zeus, cannock chase trekking centre

Zeus jumping our cross country clinic











Zeus is such a fun pony. Both our instructors, Karen and Lucy, love having him in lessons and I use him in all my cross country sessions and bareback clinics. He is very versatile because of his size, he can carry both children and lightweight adults.

And he is confident enough to lead the way out on the Chase, so my staff often use him as one of their guide horses.

cannock chase trekking centre, zeus

Zeus at the Lichfield Sheriffs Ride










Its great to hear so many of you are really enjoying our blogs, once we have finished with the horse blogs we still have plenty more talk about 🙂

Wispa – Highland Cross

This lovely mare – full name Chase Wispa – has a story so full of plot lines that it could be an episode from our very own trekking centre soap opera!

We have here her mum, Princess, and readers of my blog will know that Wispa was a surprise package. But that is just the first chapter in the Wispa story.

Wis[a, with mum Princess

Wispa with mum, Princess

Princess was a three year old when I bought her and we had no idea that she was pregnant. When we got her home I asked the vet to check her over – and her foal was born two weeks later.

She showed no signs at all of being in labour. I was keeping a close eye on her and checking constantly, but when I popped my head around the door on one of my visits there was a stunning golden coloured foal running around.

Wispa, the foal named after a chocolate bar

I named her after the chocolate bar – I already had a Galaxy! – and from the moment she was born Wispa was very bold. She would mow you down if she wanted to and she learned quickly to be an escape artist. She had no fear of electric fences.

When she was old enough I started to lightly break her in, but then at one of our weekly health checks my yard manager Lucy mentioned to me that she thought Wispa was putting on weight.

Wispa’s in foal!

On close inspection I nearly fell on the floor – Wispa was in foal!

And I knew straight away what had happened. About nine months earlier the whole herd had one night broken into my stallion Zidane’s field. I had checked all the mares and didn’t think he had covered any of them – clearly I was wrong!

Obviously a 16.2hh warmblood is not the ideal partner for a pony mare so I immediately called my stud vet Emily. She popped in a camera – and we clearly saw an eye blinking back at us. Neither of us had seen that before!

Wispa gave birth to a fabulous golden dun colt foal that I named Oregon. The accidental baby was wonderful, with beautiful markings.

Wispa and Oregon

Wispa and Oregon

She was a good little mum and I love having the three generations, grandma, mum and son living together in our herd.

As soon as Oregon was weaned I began work again with Wispa and she really grew up to become a great little all-rounder.

We are developing her schoolwork – she loves the bareback clinics – and this year she did the Sheriff’s Ride for the first time with Heather, one of her regular riders.

Wispa has become very popular and she has her own little fan club of riders who ask for her, especially as she so loves her cantering out on the Chase.

Wispa taking part in Sheriff's Ride 2018

Wispa taking part in Sheriff’s Ride 2018