Introducing Mat – by Lisa Gregory

I am so lucky that I have an expert support team, which is essential to keep a facility of the size of Cannock Chase Trekking Centre running to my high standards. The health and happiness of all my horses is my priority, and I leave nothing to chance when it comes to their care. I have already introduced you to our fantastic farrier Karl Jones, who is here every week with a programme of foot care that is personalised to each horse.

Now it is the turn of another specialist who is essential to our work here at the centre. We don’t see as much of Mat Carter as we do of Karl, but he is vitally important.

Mat is our equine dentist with his own practice, Midland Equine Dental Services, and his annual visit is an intensive couple of days as he and his final-year apprentice, Jack Trinder, work their way steadily through all the horses.

Mat was a trainee farrier when I first met him in 1996, then he switched to dentistry and he began caring for my horses as soon as he qualified.

I firmly believe that dental care is essential and can help prevent other health problems, such as colic, so Mat starts with my young horses very early to get them used to the procedures. We don’t have any misbehaviour from any of them.

We tend to schedule his visit for early winter, when our busy summer season is over, and he will talk me through any problems that he finds. Sometimes he discovers something that will require a follow up visit; this time, he has found that a couple of horses would benefit from having their teeth brushed regularly. That’s a new task for my yard team!

I am always happy when Mat’s visit comes around. My wonderful stallion Zidane has a history of problems caused by a lack of dental care when he was a young horse, before I bought him. He is always a worry to me, and although he is under the care of my vet, it is always a relief when Mat checks him over.

And it is great that Mat knows our vets and will liaise with them, so they can work together if necessary. It means the best of care for my horses. Now let’s hear from Mat…

MAT CARTER

I was originally going to be a farrier, but in the late 1990s I opted to switch and train as an equine dentist. There was a gap in the market, and I decided to fill it (Lisa – that’s Mat’s terrible dentist joke!).

I saw an equine dentist at work one day and thought it looked interesting, so I started making enquiries. In 1998, I went to West Virginia in the United States to begin my training at the American School of Equine Dentistry, and for three years I travelled backwards and forwards across the Atlantic until I qualified.

Now I have my own practice, and I am a member of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians and the International Association Of Equine Dentists.

It’s all gone technological!

Equine dentistry has progressed and developed dramatically over the years. The old treatments before I joined the profession could be quite barbaric and no longer exist. We have electric tools now to make the procedures quicker and easier, but I still use manual tools on horses that do not like the sound of the electricity. Mine is a bespoke service; some horses will take an electric rasp, others prefer manual. So I do whatever is best for the horse, although manual is obviously much more physically taxing for the dentist.

When I first started working for Lisa, she had about 16 horses. Now she has probably the biggest privately owned yard that I visit, and I also go to several former trekking centre horses in their retirement homes. It’s a busy time when we come here; we do 25 one day and 20 the next.

Start them early

Lisa and I like to start with the young horses when they are yearlings. It is really beneficial. If they are checked from an early age, you never have any problems with them standing quietly to be treated.

And if you start early, you spot problems early. For example, Colorado, who is the youngest of the home-breds, will at some stage need his wolf teeth dealing with. I like to take out wolf teeth when a horse is three or four years old, before it becomes a more difficult procedure and before they start interfering with a horse’s work.

Check the small print

It is hugely important that owners should have their horses teeth cared for professionally. I think perhaps some people don’t realise that more and more equine insurance policies insist on it. Read the small print!

When I first started in this business people rarely used to think about getting their horse’s teeth checked. But I do think there is much more awareness nowadays, and that is a great thing for horse welfare. It is so important to their general health.

* Mat has his own website, Midlandshorsedentist.com, and can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.

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.

Oberon Foppe – by Lisa Gregory

Welcome to my new regular blog feature. Every week there is a horse that shines through for me and my staff, and we will be sharing their stories with you.

It might be a horse that is going brilliantly in the school, or one that has given a beginner rider their first canter out on the Chase. We will choose one every week for you.

Oberon Foppe – our very own Black Beauty

And because I am the boss, I get first pick! My choice is our gorgeous new boy Oberon Foppe, a pure bred Friesian whose origins are in Holland and who has only been in this country for a year. After hearing a little of his history his is a real Black Beauty story that I want to share with you.

His name was simply Foppe, but as you all know, I like a great sounding name and so I double barrelled it by adding Oberon.

Oberon, FriesianI have always firmly believed that there are some horses that are destined to be mine and I think he is one of them. He has found the place where he needs to be.

For a little while, I have been on the lookout for a new member of my team. I had seen a few, but had not really felt the connection with them that I really need to experience before I buy and had come home disappointed.

However, I had noticed that a friend of ours who sells quality sports horses on behalf of their owners had on her yard a beautiful Friesian gelding.

I had been looking for a big weight carrier type. Now I was considering something completely different!

Something just drew me to him, and it was quite an impulsive buy. I was negotiating before I actually saw him, but my friend assured me his paces and jumping were fabulous and I trust her judgement.

Even more beautiful than his photos

I went over to her yard with my horse box and as soon as I saw Oberon in his stable I was shocked. He was even more beautiful than his photos! He turned and looked straight at me and he reminded me instantly of my stallion Zidane, the horse with whom I have the closest relationship.

Oberon came straight home with me and I felt him totally relax as soon as he arrived. Within ten minutes, I was riding him in the arena. I was blown away by his sensational paces! At some stage in his past, he has received a really good education.

Although I had been told he had done very little hacking, I took him out on Cannock Chase the next day at the height of Storm Hannah. He led a ride of 20 through the gales and rain, and loved every minute of it! He was so excited but his behaviour was perfect.

Within a couple of days, the lady who had owned Oberon contacted me and I asked her for more information about him. She came to visit and was delighted to see him looking relaxed and happy.

She told me she had bought him from someone in Worcester who had bought him from a seller in London. The Worcester owners told her that when they went to view him he was on a yard where meat products were hung around his stable.

The new buyers then acquired him as a driving horse, but when he was put in harness he went crazy and turned the carriage over, injuring himself and the driver.

So, he has had a couple of bad experiences and when she brought him home she found him to be very nervous. He didn’t settle well and she struggled to handle him on the ground, with him breaking free a few times. Eventually, she made the sad decision that she needed to find the right home for him.

Oberon – totally relaxed in his new environment

He came here, and from my point of view I see a horse that is totally relaxed in his new environment. He has never tried to pull or barge, he loves to hack out and his work in the school is fabulous. I think he has found his happy place.

He has fantastic breeding and my next aim is to track down his past. How did he end up on that yard in London? He has many behavioural traits like my stallion Zidane, and I am convinced that he was an entire for quite some time.

Oberon is loving his new life and I really enjoyed turning him out with the herd. He was so excited to run free in our fields and he really showed off his spectacular moves! Our photographer Tim was able to capture some fabulous shots.

Unfortunately, whilst enjoying himself out in the fields with the rest of the herd, he managed to injure one of his hocks, so he has been off work recuperating for a while, following treatment by the team at Pool House Equine Clinic. As of next week, we will be bringing him back into work gently, so you should see him out on the treks again very soon.

The Montana Diaries

THE MONTANA DIARIES
Part One – by Lisa Gregory

Of all the blogs I have written over the last couple of years one of the most popular has been my insight into how I trained our lovely young Andalusian mare Nymeria.

I have trained many horses over the years – I hate the expression ‘breaking’, I like to call it ‘training’ –  but Nymeria proved quite challenging and I had to think out of the box, adapt and try new ideas.

My methods worked beautifully and Nymeria is doing fantastically well in her ridden work. I am riding her out on Cannock Chase regularly and it won’t be too long before she is ready for experienced clients.

The interest sparked by Nymeria’s story gave me the idea of taking you all along with me on my next training journey.

As you all know, we have some beautiful young horses here sired by my Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane. Three of them – Dakota, Oregon and Arizona – are already regularly ridden by clients and Indiana is not far away with her training progressing very well. She is proving both calm and confident out on the Chase.

The next in line for training is the gorgeous Montana. I am just starting the training process and I will be sharing the experience with you step by step in a regular blog I am calling The Montana Diaries. I hope you will find it interesting.

Montana is also by Zidane and her mother is our super registered Welsh Section D mare Larosa – known to us all as Lola. This pretty bay mare is hugely popular for her willing nature and speedy paces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her foal was born on May 12th, 2015, so is four this spring and currently stands at 15.2 hands but I am sure she has a lot of growing still to do.

The tri-coloured Montana has been a good girl since the night I delivered her. She has never been the slightest trouble and I am very much hoping that happy nature will indicate how she is going to be during training. Of course, all our babies are very well handled from the day of their birth and that proves invaluable.

She comes in and out from the field regularly wearing a head collar so on Day One of training it is time to get her used to wearing a bridle.

I always give a little bit of feed to encourage taking the bit and Montana is no trouble at all as I gently put the bridle over her ears and do up the buckles. She looks as if she does this every day!

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She is soon yawning and playing with her tongue as she gets used to the feeling of the bit in her mouth. I always put the bit a little bit higher in the mouth than it will be when they are ridden so that I avoid the problem of them learning to get their tongue over it. If they learn that habit they just mess about.

I like to leave the bridle on for about half a hour to give a baby time to settle and Montana is very calm and quiet. She is just loving the attention and having me to herself!

I am looking for Montana to be completely quiet and relaxed and really happy with it and I am pleased that she has not been worried at all.

 

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Now I am going to quietly try her with her saddle. If she is upset I will remove it straight away. Sometimes I start with just a soft numnah but Montana is so relaxed I think she will be fine.

I lower it gently on to her back and she is rewarded with lots of kisses and cuddles before I gently do the girth up one hole at a time. This has to be done very kindly as she has never had anything under her belly before.

What a good girl Montana is! I move around the stable with her so she can understand how the saddle feels on her back and I spend time grooming and stroking to reassure her.

At first she doesn’t want to move because she can feel something on her back but she soon follows me. I will leave the saddle on for about half an hour.

Montana takes the whole process in her stride and is still chilled out and happy as I remove the saddle and bridle.

The next step will be to attach the reins loosely and then to venture into the arena. I am so proud of her and looking forward to our next training session, which I will tell you about in part two of The Montana Diaries.

A WEIGHTY SUBJECT

A WEIGHTY SUBJECT
By Lisa Gregory
One of the most sensitive and controversial subject being talked about in the equestrian world at the moment is rider weight and its possible damaging effect on horses.  Without doubt people have got bigger over the years and as the owner of a busy equestrian centre this weighty issue is something I have to address.

I have noticed more and more articles in the equestrian press about current research and I know many riding schools have already reduced their weight limits.

Here at the trekking centre our weight limit is currently 16st, and on the recommendation of our vet I have to think about reducing that. I must put the welfare and wellbeing of my horses first, but I love my customers and I don’t want to deter people from coming here to enjoy our wonderful centre.

What I would like to do is to highlight the extra riding enjoyment that can come from weight loss, even if it is just a few pounds. And I will do that by asking one of my long serving clients, Debbie Butcher, to tell her inspirational story.

Debbie has ridden here for 18 years and is the devoted fan of Brodie, a much-loved horse who has been with me for many years.

She decided to lose weight to make Brodie’s life easier and has been so successful that she is now a Slimming World consultant. I find it inspirational that she did this out of love for one of my horses.

Now she wants to help fellow riders do the same, and I would like people to start thinking about this process. She is passionate about her message and I am passionate about my horses, which is why we are collaborating.

BRODIE IS MY INSPIRATION
By Debbie Butcher

I have ridden my beloved friend Brodie for over 16 years and my weight has yo-yo’d up and down in all that time. I think I have done pretty much every diet that exists!

At my heaviest I was 13st 8lb, which was Christmas of 2017.  That was a wake-up call and I decided it had to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights of the year here at the trekking centre is our annual day out at the Sheriff of Lichfield’s Ride. It is a long and challenging day for the horses, with a route of over 20 miles, and I knew that I needed to be under 12st, as with any of the five rides that I had by then completed on Brodie.

My best boy is not getting any younger and I decided that I owed it to him to make changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost some weight on my own and then I joined Slimming World because I saw it creeping up again and I knew I had to do this properly and for the long term.

By the 2018 Sheriff’s Ride I was under 11st 7lb and earned a hugely emotional reward when Brodie and I were awarded the Best Turned Out prize. It was the most fantastic day.

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Now I am 10st 4lb and at my ideal BMI. I so loved the ethos and healthy approach of Slimming World that last October I became a Slimming World Consultant.

Of course, vanity and health played a part in my decision to take control of my weight. But without reservation Brodie was, and still is, my inspiration. Because he is a big boy I knew he could always carry me, which is why I had never really got to grips with it until then.

Now, a year on, the difference riding him is amazing. He is flying every time we go out on a trek and it really feels as if he is saying “thanks for doing that”!

And a whole new world of trekking has opened up to me! Brodie will always be my number one, but I can now ride horses that I was too heavy for. I am even riding the gorgeous Capulate, whose limit is way below my previous weight.

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There is an unexpected benefit too. I am 56 and I have degenerative knee problems, which have improved massively as a result of my weight loss and improved fitness.

Everybody has to find their own motivation for losing weight. Brodie was mine, and I like to think other riders might be motivated by their feelings for a favourite horse.

I am somebody that understands this from a rider’s perspective. The worst thing you can do is “go on a diet”. This is a holistic approach, all about mind set, eating the right foods, and exercise. And of course, riding is a fantastic form of exercise.

I have become a Slimming World consultant because I believe in this absolutely. We are totally non-judgmental, there is no humiliation. Everything is discreet. This is not about dieting; it is all about changing our relationship with food.   If I can inspire other people I will be delighted. My Slimming World classes are Tuesdays (5.30pm) at St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Hednesford, and Wednesdays (5.30pm and 7.30pm) at Heath Hayes Constitutional Club, from Wednesday 5th June I will be moving my class to The Victoria Club, Norton Canes.  Have a look at my Facebook Page for further information.
Slimming World Heath Hayes

P.S from Lisa: Debbie is already proving an inspiration!  Many of our riders have joined her and their weight loss is incredible.  They say their favourite horses are flying under a lighter rider, and they have so much more choice of horses to ride as I am not now limited to who I can put them on.  I am so proud of them all!

Seasons on The Chase

SEASONS ON THE CHASE
by Lisa Gregory

Here at the trekking centre we are so lucky to have the glorious open countryside of Cannock Chase literally as our back garden.

Go through our gate and you will find yourself in thousands of acres of perfect riding country, with just the occasional road to cross.

The Chase is beautiful in all seasons, from the first touch of green in early spring to the blaze of purple heather on the moorlands in high summer and then the golds of the autumn forests.

 

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Riding on the Chase through the seasons is wonderful and at the moment we are looking forward to our spring and summer treks and lots of special activities (details on our events page).

We do of course become busier as the days get longer but some of those riders who enjoy visiting us during the summer will call a halt as the days shorten.

There are so many enjoyable reasons to keep on riding all year round. Spring is feeling as if it’s here for us now, but if you don’t normally ride when it’s chilly, start thinking now about joining us here when the autumn rolls round again.

Obviously it is still possible to come for a relaxing and low key outing but autumn and winter is a good time for people who want to learn more while on a trek and challenge themselves a little.

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Our groups in those seasons are often smaller, especially on week days, so myself and my staff can spend more one-on-one time with individual clients and help you while you are riding.

And because the ground is often soft with plenty of give for my horses’ legs we can sometimes have a much more energetic ride. The horses love that too because they are having less work and so are full of bounce and sparkle!

Even a frosty day when the ground is hard can be wonderful. The winter Chase looks stunning dressed in white and on a steady walk we can look out for our resident herds of fallow deer. They are easier to spot when the foliage dies down and are unafraid of the horses, so will often just quietly watch us go by.

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Clear days show the best of our panoramic views out to the Shropshire hills in the west and the Staffordshire Moorlands in the north.

 

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It is really only snow that puts paid to our winter riding when ground conditions become unsafe. But we have been known to get caught out by a snow shower while we are out on the Chase and that can be fun too!

 

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Returning to the centre is a real treat in winter. I always think that in summer our bistro has a ranch style atmosphere and we will all be enjoying that very soon. We will be making the most of the cowboy feeling with our Western themed party night on Saturday 25th May (tickets available at reception).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But in cold weather it is more like a ski lodge with the log fire blazing and a cup of hot chocolate to savour.

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And of course we have all our activities for both adults and children in the comfort of the indoor arena to enjoy. Full details of all our clinics and classes can be found on our events page

So if you are inclined to be a bit of a “fair weather rider” I hope I have convinced that the fun doesn’t stop when summer ends. Come and join us through all the seasons!

DOWN MEMORY LANE by John Brooks

DOWN MEMORY LANE

I can’t believe we are already into 2019 and in June it will be 24 years since I achieved my dream and opened my own trekking centre.

It has been a long and interesting journey, with many ups and downs along the road, and one person has been with me every step of the way.

Many of you know him, my longest standing client, and were delighted when he celebrated his 77th birthday last year with a trek on his beloved Brodie. So this week I thought it would be fascinating to hear from him about his journey alongside me at the trekking centre.  It’s over to you JOHN BROOKS.

DOWN MEMORY LANE
by John Brooks

Years ago, when I was first learning to ride, I used to enjoy a trek at a stables on Cannock Chase owned by a showjumper called Joe Gregory.

He had three daughters and the littlest one was about five at the time.  Her name was Lisa and she was bold and confident and pony mad. I could not have imagined then that all these years later we would still be friends – and really, she hasn’t changed a bit!

I started riding in 1974 at the age of 32. I was Mayor of Lichfield at the time and the then Sheriff asked me if I would join him on the city’s annual traditional beating the bounds ride.

I said I couldn’t ride at all but would learn in time for the event. In fact I only rode about eight times and then went on the Sheriff of Lichfield’s ride. I wouldn’t recommend that! It wasn’t the well organised day it is now – it was more like the Charge Of The Light Brigade!

I just about managed to stop on, only saved by the fact the horse I was on was very unfit and ran out of puff in every gallop.

But it didn’t put me off, far from it in fact. I was riding at Brian McMahon’s racing yard, where they also took rides out. I also rode at Middleton Equestrian Centre, and then I found Lisa’s dad’s place.

I rode at a lot of places and have kept a record of all the different horses I have ridden over the years. The total stands now at 247!

Then in June 1995 I saw a newspaper advert for a new stables opening at Teddesley. I went along in the very first week and was amazed to find that the owner was that same little girl I had known years before – now all grown up and putting me on a massive 18hh shire cross called Simon.

And I have ridden with Lisa ever since. Her original stables were here, on the site we are on today, but when Cannock Chase was closed due to forest fire risks in 1996 we moved over the road and kept on riding.

It was a tough time but Lisa battled through and stayed in business with 18 horses.

Then Lisa moved to Brocton for six years and the horse herd grew to 26. In 2001 she was able to buy her original site and the whole operation moved back here and continued to grow.

I have always ridden twice a week and still do. When I was working I would come for the day on a Sunday with some sandwiches and a can of lager and do both the morning and afternoon rides.

In 1996 I convinced Lisa to join me on the Sheriff’s Ride. There was just me and her back then – last year she took 25 riders! Altogether I have completed 30 and there were some very scary incidents in the old days. Health and safety hadn’t been invented then!

 

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John and Lisa one of many Sheriffs Rides together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years Lisa has become vitally important to the ride and I think she and the marshalls she provides are instrumental in keeping it going. Without her input it could have died.

I am so pleased to see what the Centre has become. It is a long way from my can of lager days and it is so nice after a ride to come back to the bistro and enjoy a good coffee and some lunch, especially in winter when the log fire is blazing away.

But it hasn’t been easy for Lisa. Sometimes it has been a real struggle but she has so much determination and stamina that it keeps on getting better and better here.

And over the years she has got better and better as a trainer. She always learns from experience and so the quality of horses continually improves, especially as she has trained many of them from foals. And she is excellent at not only training horses but pairing up riders with the right horse for them. That is a fantastic skill.

I have so many happy memories and have ridden some excellent horses and I have to say that Brodie is my all-time favourite. He has been a wonderful horse for me and I have done so much on him, including eight Sheriff’s rides.

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John & Brodie celebrate Johns 77th Birthday

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John congratulating Debbie Butcher and Brodie on their ‘Best Turned Out’ award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I am getting old now and the horse I enjoy riding most is Lola. She is fast and forward going and she goes very easily and nicely. It is not hard work for an old man like me!

When I worked I found coming here was a stress buster for me. Riding horses is a very healthy and therapeutic hobby.

Now it keeps me fit and well. A few years ago I had a heart problem and the doctor was amazed at how quickly I recovered and got back to full fitness. My heart efficiency returned to normal and that happens only in one per cent of cases. I credit riding for that.

Riding at the trekking centre over the years has always been a real pleasure, but it has been more than that. It has been, and still is, a very important part of my life and I intend to keep going for as long as I enjoy it.

There is no better riding anywhere than Cannock Chase and if you really want to enjoy your riding there is no better place than this.

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OUR SUPER SEVEN EVENTS

OUR SUPER SEVEN EVENTS

While there is always lots going on here at the trekking centre I am always delighted to be able to offer special events.

And this summer we will have plenty to look forward to, thanks to our programme of seven super dates.

PUB RIDES have always been hugely popular events but last year I had to discontinue them due to circumstances beyond our control.

So I am very excited to announce that the Bank Holiday Monday PUB RIDES are back with a new venue for our lunch. I am sure you are going to love them, especially as our new pub is a little further away, so that means a longer time in the saddle and visiting parts of our beautiful Cannock Chase we do not usually see. And the food there is fabulous!

These fantastic days out are for experienced riders only, but please bear in mind that this will be quite a long ride,  so pay attention to your physical fitness. You must be comfortable at walk, trot and canter.

The dates are April 22nd, May 6th, May 27th and August 26th. Spaces will be limited so don’t leave it too late to book!

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I am delighted to again offer our two-day LONGDON TRAIL RIDE on Thursday and Friday, July 25th and 26th.

There will only be 10 places available on this lovely ride that is one of the highlights of my summer.

I personally take this ride and we will enjoy two full days of riding through the glorious countryside of Cannock Chase, on a variety of different tracks and terrain.

Your selected mount is your own horse for the two days and you will be responsible for his care.

We will start with coffee and pastries here in the bistro before we bring in our horses, groom and tack up and then head out on our adventure. We will stop at a gorgeous country pub for lunch, riding on in the afternoon to our cosy overnight farmhouse accommodation.

We will make sure our horses are comfortable before turning them out to graze in their holiday paddock. Then it’s our turn to relax with a glass of wine and I will prepare a delicious evening meal. Finish our evening with a dip in the jacuzzi to ease any aching muscles.

Next morning we will wake up to a full English breakfast before tacking up to begin our ride home. But it’s not over yet! Depending on the weather we will stop for either a picnic on the Chase or a pub lunch as we wend our way back to the centre.

This event is for experienced riders only. Please contact the centre for prices and booking information.

And for a really special treat with friends I am happy to offer this fantastic trail ride to private groups.

If you want to put together a group, with a minimum of six riders, you can have an identical two day experience to yourselves. Please liaise with the centre over possible dates, and I would be delighted to make myself available to escort you over a weekend.

 

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The annual LICHFIELD SHERIFF’S RIDE is our event of the year on Saturday, September 7th. This historic beating the bounds ride starts from the centre of Lichfield and heads out on a route of more than 20 miles that does include some roads.

Riders are in show dress and the horses are turned out to the highest of standards to impress the large crowds that line the streets to cheer us on. You must be available for the two preparation days prior to the ride.

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This event is for experienced clients only and riders’ abilities will be assessed before bookings are accepted.  It is a long and challenging day and in the interests of the horses I must impose a 13stone weight limit.

On Wednesday, September 4th, there will be a two hour pre-Sheriff’s trek when I will ensure you are comfortable with your chosen horse and organise rider pairings for the big day.

Thursday and Friday, September 5th and 6th, are very busy but lots of fun! You will be looking after your own horse – with the help and supervision of myself and my staff – and doing all the bathing, mane and tail washing and tack cleaning before my girls apply the finishing touches.

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Then it’s the big event and it really is a very special and memorable occasion. In 2018 we took our biggest ever group and everyone was so pleased and proud of themselves at the end of a brilliant day. Again, please contact the centre for prices and booking details.

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There will be a first for us on Saturday, May 25th, when we stage our RANCH PARTY NIGHT.

This will be our first ever evening event and the whole centre will have a Western ranch theme.

Evening views out to the Chase from our bistro are spectacular with the horses at rest in the fields, so you can relax around the cosy flames of the fire pit with a drink, or enjoy some dancing to our live band.

There will be a bar, food from our smokehouse barbecue, face painting and much more. If you are feeling really daring, test your riding skills on our bronco bull. Watch the website for when tickets go on sale.

So those are our super seven events but that won’t be all this summer! Wait for news of evening barbecue rides, an Indian restaurant ride and perhaps an early morning breakfast ride.  We will keep you busy this summer!

A FUN-PACKED PROGRAMME

A FUN-PACKED PROGRAMME

After such an exciting 2018 I have decided we need to go one better as we head into a new year, so I am expanding our programme of adult activities.

We have lots of fun going on for children, so the grown-ups deserve their excitement too! There will be brilliant treks as usual and loads of action in the arena designed at improving riding skills and learning new disciplines. I hope there is something for everyone!

Our arena is open Wednesdays to Sundays for the normal range of lessons and we will now have two late nights, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Saddleless Master Class

Our very popular SADDLELESS MASTER CLASS will be on Wednesdays at 6 pm for 45 minutes and this bareback training session is led by myself. Anyone can try this if they are comfortable at walk, trot, and canter.

This is a fun class set to music but it has a serious theme. Whenever I see things start to go wrong for a rider it is generally loss or lack of balance that is to blame.

In this class, I will ride alongside you and teach you how to develop your core strength. Using cones and pole work you will learn how to use your posture and body position to assist your horse.

Riding bareback is something I have done all my life and I still do. I make sure that at least a couple of times a week I take my stallion Zidane into the arena to work without a saddle. Even with all my years of experience, I find it still improves my core strength and balance.

I really want to encourage all my riders to join me and try this. It is such a good way to boost confidence too.

Saddleless Masterclass Lisa with Chase

Introduction to Dressage

On Thursdays at 6pm we will have an INTRODUCTION TO DRESSAGE class, led by our BHS registered instructor Karen. I decided to introduce this 45-minute session for people who would like to have a go at learning the basics of this fascinating Olympic discipline.

I am not expecting anyone to suddenly turn into Charlotte Dujardin, but you will be able to build up to performing a preliminary dressage routine. This will be great for riders who like to have a target to aim for and will provide such a feeling of achievement.

Polework Clinic

Thursdays at 7pm is the slot for our great new POLEWORK CLINIC, led by myself and our instructor Karen.

This new discipline is all the rage in the horse world at the moment. People who own their own horses are travelling all over the place to take part, so I decided our clients here should have the chance too.

This is a group lesson and loads of fun for both horse and rider as you all try our grids of 30-plus poles in the arena. Pole work is the key to rhythm, balance, and straightness, so I am sure you will all soon notice the difference in your riding.

Cannock Chase Trekking, Lessons

Cross Country Clinic

From April onwards this slot will be taken over by our very popular summer CROSS COUNTRY CLINIC led by myself and Karen. Watch our website for dates and details.

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Cannock Chase Trekking, Cross Country

Intro to Jumping

On Saturdays at 3.45 we will have another fun group activity, INTRO TO JUMPING.

Take your first leap into jumping in a controlled environment, learn the jump position and stages of the jump. This is an ideal class to prepare if you want to have a go at the summer cross country sessions.

Intro to Jumping

Adult Beginners’ Group

Another new activity is our ADULT BEGINNERS GROUP on Sundays at 2pm. This is exactly what it says, an opportunity for adults to learn the basics of riding for the first time, but so much more fun in a group atmosphere.

Western Riding

Do you love a good Western on the TV? Have you ever fancied learning to ride like a cowboy? Well now you can!

I am so excited about our WESTERN RIDING class on Sundays at 3pm. I absolutely love Western riding and I am so happy to be able to offer this activity. Full Western tack and an instructor will ride with you. This is also a good preparation if you plan a ranch holiday at any stage.

Cannock Chase Trekking, Western Riding

Please contact the centre for booking and pricing details. And please remember to keep checking our website and Facebook page for news of events and activities.

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES 2019

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES

It’s a new year and I have loads of new activities planned to take place here at the trekking centre.

Obviously the centre is growing and I am always thinking of fun ways for our young riders to learn and to interact with our lovely ponies and I have introduced a whole children’s schedule.

Every week we have our PONY CLUB for children aged four and over. This runs each Wednesday from 4pm to 5pm.

This is perfect for every child who ever dreams of owning their own pony. It is a fun and exciting opportunity to get close to a pony, with kids learning stable management, how to groom and look after a horse and obviously includes a riding lesson.

This is pony club with a difference. Throughout the year we will be adding all sorts of fun activities and there will be the chance to play gymkhana games, try Western riding and have a go at bare back.

I always think children learn best through fun and it is important that they become “horse savvy”. It is fine to focus on learning to ride, but pony handling is a very important skill.

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We always try to listen to what our clients want and we aim to keep things fun and exciting for our children. So we have added a very special event every winter Wednesday at 5.15pm.

All children love the sparkly world of UNICORNS and we are offering a magical Unicorn experience. Little girls love the idea of dressing up ponies and we have had many requests for Unicorn fun.

It will include brushing and grooming, painting glitter on pony hooves and decorating with fun accessories. Then they will be able to ride their unicorns to music.

This activity will run until the end of March, when it will switch to Sunday afternoons. It is also available for private party hire on Sundays.

 

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School holidays will bring a whole feast of trekking centre activities.

MY LITTLE PONY is a two hour activity session which includes grooming, plaiting, a riding lesson and fun and games. It also includes a small snack and a drink. Dates:
Wednesday February 20th, Wednesday April 17th, Wednesday July 24th, Wednesday August 7th, Wednesday October 20th and Friday December 27th.

The October session will have a Halloween theme with fancy dress, games and apple bobbing for the ponies. The December date will be a Christmas party theme.

 

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HOME ON THE RANCH is a morning of cuddly pets. Spend two hours with our ponies, donkey, bunnies and Pygmy goats. This includes a paddock ride and a small snack and drink. Dates: Thursday February 21st, Thursday April 18th, Thursday July 25th, Thursday August 8th, Thursday October 31st. This one will have a Halloween theme.

 

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Our RIDING SCHOOL is open from Wednesday to Sunday every week and on Saturdays we have a programme for children.

INTRO TO RIDING begins at 9.45am and introduces our young riders to the first steps of walking and trotting. RIDING IMPROVEMENT is aimed at children who have completed six weeks of the intro class and introduces canter for the first time. INTERMEDIATE RIDING looks at the transition to jumping and basic dressage. This is for age seven and upwards.

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On Sundays we have PADDOCK RIDES for young children at 10am and 11am. And obviously there are opportunities for slightly older kids to join our TREKS on Cannock Chase.

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Please contact the centre for prices and booking information and keep an eye on our website and Facebook page throughout the year.