Introducing Karl – by Lisa Gregory

A dedicated and hard-working team is absolutely essential to keep an equestrian business the size of Cannock Chase Trekking Centre working efficiently. With 46 horses to care for, clients to keep safe and happy, and a popular bistro to run we have a busy life! And I am lucky enough to have first-class workers, from my yard staff right through to my baristas, to keep the operation rolling along smoothly.

Behind the scenes there is also a highly professional support team, who are crucial to our work. They are our vets, our equine dentist and our farrier, who keep all our much loved horses happy and healthy.

Our farrier is Karl Jones, and he is a weekly visitor to the yard, where there are always customers awaiting his attention. Karl has been my farrier for many years, and his skill and patience are highly valued here.  My horses meet some rough terrain out on Cannock Chase and it is crucial that their feet are kept in tip-top condition.

Each horse has its own farrier record, and Karl has an individual programme of attention for each one, depending on wear and tear. When our foals are born, Karl starts going in with them early on, so they get to know him. And horses that I buy soon settle to his patient handling. He doesn’t have a single problem with any of our horses and he is always quick to spot if a potential problem is developing.

Karl is a massive part of our team and we have such a good relationship with him.

I thought you might like to hear from Karl, so now I am handing over to him…

Karl Jones

I qualified as a farrier in 1998 after a four-year apprenticeship with a firm that had a history of ten generations in the business. I first became interested in farriery because I had two cousins who were farriers, and I used to help them out while I was still at school. That got me thinking about farriery as a career, and I have never regretted taking this route. I love it – it doesn’t really feel like a job to me.

I started working for Lisa about a year after I qualified. She was looking for a farrier and her vet recommended me. When I started, she had about 26 horses, and, of course, the yard has grown and grown since then.

It is the biggest privately owned yard that I visit, and I am here every week. Lisa always asks me if I can see any lameness problems developing with any of the horses, as I can sometimes spot signs from the wear of their shoes before it becomes physically apparent in their work. It is a responsibility I take very seriously as I can help Lisa deal with issues promptly.

And because I know all of these horses individually, and have known some of them for a very long time, I can see if  things are not quite right. For example, I started handling Gabriel when he was six months old. Now he is 15, so I know him very well indeed as I have been shoeing him all these years. I would notice immediately if he began to suffer a problem.

I find that most horses on other yards tend to work on a surface these days. They do school work most of the time. But Lisa’s horses do the majority of their work on a whole range of terrains so I have adapted what I do to deal with that. It is not like shoeing dressage horses! I aim to be looking after joints, tendons and ligaments by correct shoeing. Foot balance is crucial to their overall soundness. A horse that is working on uneven ground is always under extra pressure. With the Chase being so stoney, over the years I have learnt to leave a good amount of sole, only taking away sole that is needed to allow plenty of protection to the ground surface of the hoof.

I am always on call for the trekking centre. If a horse loses a shoe, I try to get there as soon as possible because there may be clients booked for that horse.

One of my highlights is that I very much enjoy starting with the babies. I like to start them patiently and quietly. It sets them up for life if they begin their education with no stress.

We had a little challenge to think about when the beautiful Nymeria arrived. She was an adult horse but very little handled – so potentially a problem. But she loves her food, so she will stand nicely for shoeing as long as Lisa feeds her some lunch!

I am delighted that my 16-year-old son Harrison has become really interested and likes to come with me in the school holidays. He has really taken to it and it is exciting to think that he is following in my footsteps.

Summer – By Lisa Gregory

Writing a Horse of the Week blog might sound like a simple task, but it’s actually quite tricky. And that is because all my horses here at Cannock Chase Trekking Centre are so fabulous! I am sure you would all agree!

This week’s nomination was an easy one, and it is one that came from several members of my staff. We all agreed that this had been a very special experience and our beautiful, little Welsh Section C mare Summer played a vital role.


recently spent an emotional and inspiring hour or so in the company of a very brave lady who is terminally ill. We were all in awe of her courage and good humour in such a desperately sad situation.

She has a bucket list, and one of the experiences she wanted to complete was to ride a horse. It was, she said, something she had always wanted to do but had never got round to organising.

She is only a little lady, so, of course, only needed a small horse. The obvious choice for her was our pretty strawberry roan. Summer is renowned for her gentle and kind nature, so was perfect because of her laid-back nature.

As Summer is one of our pony team for little riders, some of you may not know her very well, so let me introduce her.

She is the grandma of our herd and the oldest of all my horses. But you would never know that from seeing her at work. She is still full of energy and enthusiasm, and shows no signs of wanting to retire. In fact, I have someone waiting with a retirement home for her but Summer isn’t slowing down yet.

She has taught thousands of children to ride over the years and is brilliant at teaching her young riders to canter.

Buy one, get one free!

Summer was just six when I bought her, and I thought I had taken delivery of a fat little pony. But there was a surprise in store as, unknown to me or my staff, she was in foal.

Our tubby girl provided me with the prettiest little chestnut baby with four white socks and a flaxen mane and tail. I named her Autumn and she is an invaluable member of my team.


A very special mare

When the lady arrived, we said she could choose what she wanted to do and her first thought was that she would like to meet her chosen horse and perhaps do some grooming. We knew that if she didn’t want to ride, Summer would stand quietly, enjoying being fussed.

However, our client was very excited after meeting the gentle Summer and, after spending some time bonding with her, she decided that she felt confident enough to get on.

Our instructor Lucy supervised, and she was both amazed and delighted when the ridden session progressed to rising trot! It could not have gone any better. Our rider loved the whole experience, and that was thanks to Summer.

Summer also has another regular visitor who benefits from her kind nature. This is a lady with dementia, who is regularly brought to visit us by staff from her care home. We bring Summer up to the bistro and the two of them spend some time together. Summer’s manners are perfect – and her reward is the bag of carrots that her friend always brings for her.

She deserves all the attention she gets; she’s a one in a million.