Herd Life – Part Two


One of the more unusual aspects of our happy herd is the number of family relationships we have.

It adds an extra dimension to the enjoyment of watching them out in the field. I love to see the whole herd interacting and at play and it is extra special when, for example, I see Atlantis hanging out with his dad Capulate or Nymeria playing with her brother Pele.

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I find it fascinating to see how much time the relations spend with each other. It is quite obvious that family bonds are never broken.

Of course, the biggest related group we have are my stallion Zidane and his children. Zidane is not turned out with the herd, but the six youngsters certainly know him and if he is an adjoining paddock they love to stand in a line and gaze at him. I think he is their hero!

And he does get time to spend with them now that three of them are grown up and out on the treks. It is so exciting to be leading a trek on Zidane and look behind to see Dakota, Oregon and Arizona following along behind him.

cannock chase trekking centre

Family Trek: Zidane and his babies Arizona, Dakota & Oregon










And to take the baby relationships a step further, Arizona and her brother Colorado are out with their mother Tia, while Montana has her mum Lola. Dakota and Indiana’s mother Nicoh sadly died but they have always had the “baby gang” for company and Auntie Lola keeps an eye on everyone.

cannock chase trekking centre






Oregon, meanwhile, is the third generation of his family in the trekking herd. His mother is Wispa, and she is the daughter of our little Highland pony Princess, Oregon’s grandmother!

Summer and Autumn are mother and daughter, while Welsh Section D’s Emrys, Gabriel and Capulate are from the same bloodline, and interestingly, all hang out together.

Another father and son are Pirate and Lightning. I have told their story before in an earlier blog but I think it is worth retelling for anyone who missed it.

I bought Pirate from a friend in Wales, and he was a stallion who had been used for breeding. I had him gelded and he soon became a perfect little trekking horse with a lovely temperament.

Some years later I found a nice little coloured Cob called Lightning and it turned out he was Pirate’s son. They had never met, as Pirate had come to the trekking centre before his son was born.

So imagine my amazement when I turned Lightning out with the herd and he immediately joined up with his daddy! The two of them have been inseparable ever since. Pirate loves to play and in Lightning he has the perfect partner in crime.

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Father & Son Pirate & Lightning

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The question clearly is, how did they recognise each other? (They didn’t even need Jeremy Kyle!!)

I have one more story that really made me understand the bonds of family and herd life and it is one that makes me emotional as soon as I think about it.

Years ago I bought two young horses called Tom and Hattie. Tom was only 18 months old and unknown to me he had already mated Hattie and she was in foal.

I called their baby Pemba and he grew up to be an important member of my trekking herd.  He and Hattie were inseparable, she always protected him out in the field, even keeping the rest of the herd away so Pemba could be first through the gate in a morning.  One day, he was returning from a trek ridden by my then yard manager and he tripped and fell. We didn’t know at the time what he had done but he was clearly injured.

The vet came and gave him pain relief and we agreed to see how he was through the night.  We did our very best to save him, he was sitting like a dog in the field and we supported him with bales and I borrowed a camper van to take up there and spend the night with him.

Pemba was becoming distressed so I took his mum Hattie to him to keep him calm. His father Tom had never shown much interest in his son before, but throughout the night he stood unmoving in a corner of the herd field, 3 fields away. He watched the whole time, never taking his eyes off Pemba and Hattie.

Tragically Pemba got no better and in the morning the vet put him to sleep.

We left Hattie with him for a while to accept his death and then put her back with the herd. Led by Tom, the whole herd surrounded her and huddled her. They stayed with her all day, supporting her. Another mystery, how did they know and understand what had happened?

But instead of ending on a sad note I will finish on a happy insight into herd life. When one of my mares is in foal I have noticed that the other girls will form a group to protect the mother-to-be. They will stay with her through the pregnancy until she has to come in for extra feeding in the final trimester.

Somehow from the day I mate them they know she is in foal and offer their support. There is so much we don’t know about horse’s minds but herd life teaches us every day.


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Herd Life – Part One

HERD LIFE – Part one

As I drive around the countryside and see horses living a solitary life in paddocks I feel a little sad that they have to be separated so they have less interaction with their own species.

I realise that some owners have no choice and are doing their very best to protect their beloved horses from injury.

But when I see our herd here at the trekking centre interacting and playing together I am certain that this natural way of life is best for them.

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I realised quite early on after creating my trekking centre that the more turnout I could provide for my horses the better life would be for them.

At first they were stabled at night and out during the day  but when I turned them out round the clock I noticed the benefits immediately. I found there were huge improvements in their behavior.

Horses like Red, who had issues with stress when I first bought him, quickly became much more relaxed and that was enormously beneficial in training. Our lovely new boy Tyri, who came here from a stables environment, was simply energised by the companionship of the herd.

cannock chase trekking centre, herd

Red relaxing

cannock chase trekking centre, herd








Equally, a horse that is a little bit sharp or unruly often has his behavior sorted out by his herd mates. They learn from horse body language what the rules are and the older ones often put the youngsters in their place.

My vet always says that it is horse heaven here at the Trekking Centre. They have the perfect combination of herd life, lots of individual attention and exercise.

When I was growing up at my family home all our horses were kept stabled. They were often quite bad tempered and nippy but we don’t have any problems like that with our herd.

It is great to watch as the herd is turned out and as they make their way up to the winter field and the hay feeders.

Off they go, bucking and leaping and playing, happy to be in each other’s company and reinforcing relationships as they canter away. As I am writing this blog there are at least 15 of them enjoying a game of tag before they join their friends who are already eating.

cannock chase trekking centre, herd







One who is everybody’s playmate is Pirate. He loves a game and at this moment his partner in crime is Ross and they are nipping each other’s legs and bucking.

Observing herd life is endlessly fascinating and I think it is quite unusual these days to have such a large group – about 40 horses – living together. Many yards split the sexes, fearing fighting and injury.

But our boys and girls have a distinct pecking order and get on well together. It is interesting to see who is in the sub-herds and groups.

Buttons is the herd leader and has Capulate as his second in command. They lead the top group, made up of Melody, Paddy, Atlantis, Splash, Benson and Gabriel. Of course that group includes a love triangle! Paddy adores Melody,  but she has a crush on Buttons! (They’re like the cool kids)


Cannock Chase Trekking Centre, Herd

The Love Triangle – Buttons, Melody & Paddy


And interestingly, our bold and confident youngster Oregon, son of my stallion Zidane, has moved his way up the pecking order and has now joined that top group. I am sure that eventually he will challenge Buttons for the herd leadership.

The Welsh Section D’s, a group that includes Emrys, Gabriel, Spirit, Capulate and his son Atlantis, often like to spend part of the day hanging out together. (Like the football jocks)

There are lots of other close relationships. Alfie and Saffy are boyfriend and girlfriend and he always waits for her at turnout so they can wander off together. Her first love was Jake, but she has dumped him in favour of Alfie.

Alfie and Saffy are members of a sub-herd that also includes the jilted Jake, Lola and Montana. Sometimes Sahara and Dakota choose to spend time with them. Another devoted pair are our pretty little mare Autumn and our donkey Eeyore.

And then there are the loners. Connor and Zeus prefer to be solitary, although the herd is all around them. And the kind and gentle mare Tia is also aloof, although she does love her babies, Arizona and Colorado.

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Tia and her babies, Arizona & Colorado








Our newest girls, Kitty and Nymeria, have both established their places in the herd. Kitty is comfortable in the middle with a whole group of friends, while Nymeria likes to spend time with her brother Pele, but has a special affinity with Nutmeg, one of our little ponies.

When a new horse comes we will first turn it out with a companion of its own age and then gradually add the others, starting with the stronger characters.

The new horse is often kept away from the main herd for a while, usually a few days. They will operate a shift system on guard duty until they decide it is time to accept the new arrival.  It is always different horses that take up this duty, it is fascinating that is usually a horse or pony of the same sex and similar age. It may be tough to watch but we have to let them sort it out themselves, although we keep a close watch and never let it get nasty.

cannock chase trekking centre, herd

cannock chase trekking centre, herd

Jake & Brodie take on ‘Guard Duty’ over newbie Tyri









And once the newbie is accepted it will be playtime again. I just love to see the fun and games – even if it does cost me a fortune in ripped rugs!

One aspect of our herd life that I have not mentioned is family relationships. Our group is also unusual that we have so many family partners and I will tell you about them all in my next blog.

Training Nymeria – Part Two

by Celia Holmes

Like most horse addicts I have always longed to be a much better rider than I am.

In my dreams I was always a sort of cross between Monty Roberts and Charlotte Dujardin, so both a horse whisperer and  an expert in the saddle.

But reality was a very different scenario and now retired I am simply grateful that I can continue to enjoy my riding and indulge my love of horses.

I do, however, really appreciate the privilege of watching an expert at work and I am sure you will agree that here at the trekking centre we are very lucky to have one in the form of owner Lisa Gregory.

Most of the horses here have been personally trained by Lisa from their youngest days and we all know what a pleasure they are to ride. Any new arrival is greeted with great excitement – we can’t wait to see them out on the Chase when training is complete.

One newbie that has generated more excitement than most is Nymeria, bought by Lisa last summer and the full sister of her spectacular Andalusian lead horse Pele.

Cannock Chase Trekking Centre, Nymeria







Nymeria is stunningly beautiful but quite sensitive and her training process has proved to be a real test of skill and patience for Lisa, so it was a real treat a few days ago to be invited, in the company of my friend Marie Twomey, to go down to the indoor arena and watch a training session.

And it was an eye-opener for both of us. I hadn’t really seen Nymeria up close since she first arrived as a nervous and flighty girl, clearly feeling overwhelmed by her move to a busy equestrian centre.

So Marie and I were expecting some fireworks! But what we saw instead was the reward for patience, kindness and regular training sessions. Nymeria is now a calm and intelligent young lady.

We were lucky to be witnessing training on a breakthrough day. Lisa had sat on Nymeria only four times up to then, but this was the first time she was able to ride her independently, applying pressure with her legs and taking up a light contact with the reins.

With yard manager Sonia Aston on hand to help from the ground Lisa began the session  by backing and turning Nymeria, all on voice command, and then Sonia helped to attatch the two long reins to her bridle.

Lisa began working her on the long reins, explaining that it had taken patience to persuade her to work calmly, as at first Nymeria was afraid and trying to run away.

The mare walked quietly on both reins, with plenty of encouragement and praise from Lisa, and was then confident enough to step up to a nice working trot and on into canter. She has beautiful paces!


Cannock chase trekking centre, nymeria








She cantered freely on both reins and then Lisa pulled her up and asked for rein back on a voice command. Nymeria obeyed immediately. The stirrups were anchored with a strap under her belly, so Lisa was working on her steering. If she applied pressure on the right rein, the left stirrup lay against Nymeria’s side and vice versa, getting her used to the feeling of future leg aids.

Lisa removed the long reins and training switched to natural horsemanship and the join-up technique. Nymeria was turned loose and willingly followed Lisa as she walked around the arena, stopping regularly to ask again for rein back on a voice command. All went according to plan and there was obviously a close bond between them.


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Lisa using natural horsemanship during Nymeria’s training









They moved into the centre of the arena and Sonia stepped forward with lots of praise and cuddles for Nymeria  as Lisa climbed the mounting block and placed her foot in the stirrup. She leaned over before mounting and sitting sideways, always talking to and stroking the horse, before she dismounted. Then she mounted again with her feet only slightly in the stirrups and Sonia led them away.


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Nymeria was clearly very trusting of Sonia and so the three of them walked around the school, circling and changing direction regularly. Lisa explained that she was not applying any leg pressure yet.

It all went so well that Lisa felt ready to push forward. She put her feet properly in the stirrups and began to use her legs to encourage Nymeria forward, although Sonia was still leading the horse.

The process was accompanied by praise and stroking from both Sonia and Lisa, who explained that the mare felt completely relaxed and at ease with the training so far.

Lisa then took over the steering with Sonia only lightly holding the lead rein for security before she dismounted and began lunging Nymeria. The stirrups were left loose so they could swing against her sides to get her used to the feeling.

This went so well that Lisa felt the time was right to remount and remove the lead rein. For the first time in her life Nymeria was being ridden independently. At first Sonia walked quite close as a security blanket, but was soon able to stand quietly in the centre as Nymeria was clearly so calm and confident.

Cannock chase trekking centre, Nymeria








Lisa was now able to use her legs and heels to urge the horse forward and was clearly delighted at the response she received, explaining that the whole process had been much calmer than when she first mounted Pele.

Nymeria took the whole process in her stride and Lisa was then able to start picking up a contact on the reins, which the mare accepted willingly. Lisa walked circles, changed the rein several times and even backed up before deciding to finish the training session on what was clearly a high note. It had been a fascinating process to witness.

Lisa’s verdict? Sheer delight at the progress she had made.

Mine and Marie’s verdict? We have always looked at Nymeria and thought “too much for us, we won’t be riding her.”

But having seen her calm and thoughtful attitude in training our “no” has become a “maybe”. If we can channel our inner Monty and Charlotte!

P.S: And the treats continue!  Marie and I had the pleasure and privilege of helping escort Nymeria on her first two hour trek.

What an experience!  Nymeria had only been out for a gentle Chase walk with Lisa the previous day, but she stepped up to the challenge.  Crossing the road, splashing through puddles and meeting mountain bikes with no fear at all.

We expected a steady walk but Lisa thought differently and soon we were bowling along on Nymeria’s first ever canter on Cannock Chase.  Several more followed with not a problem.  What an addition to the CCTC team she is going to be!

cannock chase trekking centre, nymeria

Nymeria’s comfort blanket, Chase, keeping close on her first 2 hour trek.

cannock chase trekking centre, nymeria

Confidently cantering alone on her first ever Cannock Chase canter!

Training Nymeria – Part One

By Lisa Gregory

Everyone knows that I train all the young horses here at the trekking centre myself, and people often ask me how long the training process takes.

My honest answer has to be “I haven’t got a clue!”

Because when I start working with an unbroken youngster I genuinely don’t know how long it will be before I can ride that horse out on Cannock Chase for the first time.

Some take months, others weeks and I have been lucky enough to have had a few that were so good I hopped on after a couple of hours and rode them away.

Training Nymeria is a case in point. In some ways I feel that she has taken quite a long time, but suddenly she has made such quick progress that she has had her first little outing on the Chase and I am delighted to report all went according to plan.

In case you have missed the story so far, Nymeria is a beautiful five-year-old PRE Andalusian, the full sister of my fabulous lead horse Pele. I bought her last summer to train as a trekking centre horse and she arrived here from the stud where she was born and the herd she had lived with all her life.

I said at the time that she was like a country girl transplanted to the big city. Everything was a shock to her senses. I needed the help of my trusted equine friend Chase to get her to load on the horse box and he ended up bodily pushing her into her stable.

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She had never been stabled before and despite Chase’s calming presence next door she quickly became stressed. But that relationship with Chase proved invaluable later, as you will see.

So I turned Nymeria out into the field with her brother and the rest of the herd and that calming environment and the routine of life with our boys and girls meant I was soon able to begin the training process.

cannock chase trekking centre, nymeria

Pele greeting his sister

cannock chase trekking centre, nymeria

Pele & Nymeria enjoying her arrival at the trekking centre









I found immediately that she was quite sensitive and routine has been crucial. When I am getting her ready for a training session I always do things in the same order and that has reassured her and also disciplined her. The first thing I do in her stable is put on her training halter and everything else follows on.

The biggest issue has been putting her bridle on and I have no idea why it has been a problem. At first she was fine, but then she started backing into a corner and I knew that if I pushed her it would become a problem.

I had to think out of the box and I came up with the idea of doing it off Chase’s back while in the arena. I would be leaning down to her instead of reaching up and she would have the reassuring presence of a steady horse she knew and trusted to give her confidence.

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It had to be worth a try – and I was right! Now I can stand on a small mounting block in the stable to put her bridle on – but she still likes to have lots of kisses and cuddles while we do it. Tacking up is done slowly and I always lower the saddle on to her back with my hand underneath so it never bangs on her.

Chase has given Nymeria such reassurance that when I started long reining her I did it from his back. I had never seen this done before but I had an instinct it would help her as she was very flighty and wanted to run away from the long reins.


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In fact, it proved to be such a successful and stress free way of doing it I think I will use Chase again to help me when I start training Montana.

Nymeria’s skittishness stopped as soon as I started training her from Chase and now she focuses in the school and is not easily distracted. She is very relaxed.

My yard manager Sonia Aston or another member of my staff is always with me in the arena and together we give her lots of praise and reassurance throughout the training sessions.

Our long reining work has meant Nymeria’s steering was eventually in place and her join up with me is perfect. Once those were there I knew it was time to start laying over her and getting her used to feeling my weight.

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The process of mounting her has been much easier than with her brother. She is a quick learner and very smart. Once I was on her I found her to be settled and relaxed and I stroke her and talk to her all the time. I always have my music playing and I think that keeps both of us relaxed.

Once I had sat on her several times, with Sonia leading her for just a few steps, I could feel that she was ready to step up to a higher level and the next training session was a breakthrough day.

We were able to walk circles around the school, with Sonia leading Nymeria, and it was not long before she was able to step further and further away. Nymeria remained calm and focused without her trusted friend alongside her and soon I was able to ride her independently for the first time.

I could use my legs – also for the first time – to gently urge her forward and then I picked up a gentle contact on the reins. The priority is always to prevent an explosion, but that never felt in the least bit possible.

I was so proud of her and so pleased with her progress. This was only the fourth time I had ridden her and what is really rewarding is seeing her now compared to the skittish young filly she used to be.

Long term it is better to take as much time as you need when training a young horse. You should never rush and I will always take as long as is necessary. I want Nymeria to be a lovely horse for my clients to ride.

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I hope you all enjoyed reading Part One of my Who’s Who guide to Zidane’s children.

And I really hope it helps you all to remember which mares are the mummies of these gorgeous young horses.

So off we go with Part Two and I start with a very special young lady.












This truly gorgeous horse was also born in 2014, just three days after Nicoh’s filly foal Indiana.

Arizona is Irish Sport Horse/Dutch warmblood cross and her mother is the exceptionally gentle and kind Tia. Arizona is a beautiful coloured mare and she was Tia’s first baby.

It was so lovely raising two foals together. Indiana and Arizona always had each other for company and they played all day.


cannock chase trekking centre

cannock chase trekking centre

Kisses for her sister!








Once they joined the rest of the herd Arizona quickly became the leader of the baby group. There were six young horses out there together and if I needed to catch them all I just had to shout Arizona and she would bring them to me.

She is the biggest of the babies so far, now standing about 16.2hh, and was an absolute dream to train. She took to it straight away and did everything I asked of her.

Arizona is very calm and also clever and I absolutely sped through the process and jumped on her. I had only done a couple of ridden sessions when I decided to take her out on the Chase.

I was so proud of her when she immediately decided that she wanted to be out in front, leading the way. She is so bold –  she even led on her first canters.


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Leading a canter across Cannock Chase

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Arizona trekking out with Dad!









Some of my experienced clients are already riding her and she is quickly becoming a firm favourite.

Arizona reminds me of an Apache horse in the Disney film Spirit and is a very loving and affectionate horse. I think she has the best of the temperament of both her parents.

Nothing fazes her and I am so excited to see how she develops. If she is this good after just a few months, the future looks amazing.












Baby number five is Montana, born in 2015 and now a three year old.

Montana’s mum is Lola, which makes her a Welsh Section D/Dutch warmblood cross.

She is the foal that caught everybody out on the sweepstake – nobody expected Lola to have a coloured foal and no-one got the colour right. In fact she is tri -coloured.


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The herd catching their first glimpse of the new arrival

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Montana enjoying some sun!









On the night she was born I was watching on the video screen and when Lola was delivering her I could see a bay head, then a black mane, and then I saw she was coloured and I was so excited.

Because of the Welsh half of her breeding she has a very pretty Arab type head. Lola is a lovely forward going mare and I will definitely have another foal from her, especially as she was such a wonderful mum.

I had to put Lola in foal – she so wanted a baby of her very own. She was our Nanny McPhee out in the field with all the babies gathered around her so she could watch over them.

2019 will be Montana’s year for being trained. I think she is going to be really nice. She is stunning to look at and moves beautifully. Her face and eyes are her mum but her body is her dad and she is very exciting.

cannock chase trekking centre

cannock chase trekking centre

Montana out in the paddock




















The youngest of our babies is Colorado, the second foal of Tia and born in 2017.

He was another sweepstake miss because he is tri-coloured and nobody got it right.

When I delivered him I couldn’t believe how big he was and how quickly he stood up. He is the biggest foal I have ever had – just enormous.

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Enjoying being centre of attention outside our visitor centre.

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Colorado only a few days old









We talk about how big his sister Arizona is at four and still developing – well he is going to outgrow her.

Like his sister, nothing worries him. Teeth, feet, injections – all taken in his stride. He is very bold and doesn’t look twice at anything.

The only problem with him is that he is becoming a bit of a tinker at escaping. And because of his size he has no respect for electric fences.

Cannock Chase Trekking Centre








So those are my babies, and by later this year I will have five of them in work. I have left a little gap because I wanted to see how the older ones took to training and then to life as a working horse here at the trekking centre. I needed to know if they had the brain for the job.

I think they have answered my questions – and now I have to decide which of my mares is next to be put in foal!



I always dreamed of running a stud alongside my trekking centre and the arrival here of my gorgeous Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane made that dream come true.

His offspring are now stunning young horses and you have all followed with excitement their progress from birth to growing up and training.

Because I clearly think I live on a ranch I have named them all after American states. But now it turns out that people are a little confused!

Obviously you all know who the daddy is, but it is the mothers who are getting mixed up. So I have been asked to give you a Who’s Who to the babies – and here is part one.











Dakota is my first born, foaled in 2012, and so will always have a very special place in my heart. His mum was Nicoh – registered name Nicomis – my gorgeous Grade A Appaloosa mare.

We had fun with a sweepstake to guess date of birth, sex and colour – but we were all really surprised when he was born. He had very unusual markings – he was black, white and grey patches and spots. He was stunning, one of the best looking foals I have ever seen.

cannock chase trekking centre

Dakota with mum, Nicoh

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Dakota enjoying the sun











I named him Dakota because I thought he looked like an Indian war horse. He was always very inquisitive and even now is always the one that gives things a second look. He is a thinking horse.

Now he is out on the treks he has to have his hand held a little bit, he needs his rider to give him confidence. You have to stay one step ahead and make his decisions for him..

It took a while before I was able to put my experienced riders on him but this year he has really flourished and is attracting a lot of fans.

We sadly lost his mum a couple of years ago and riders who enjoyed riding her now like riding him. He has the same floaty paces. In September he made his debut on the Sheriff of Lichfield’s ride and stepped up bravely to tackle a big day, I was very proud of him.

As he has grown up he has lost his unusual markings and is now a grey and Appaloosa spots are appearing.

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Dakota during training

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Dakota’s first Sheriffs Ride





















Now a five year old, Oregon was born in 2013 and he was our surprise foal. He is a beautiful golden dun and his mum is Wispa, our Highland cross mare.

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Oregon and mum, Wispa

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Readers of my blog will know that naughty Wispa escaped into Zidane’s field on the quiet and went on to produce this wonderful dun with a black dorsal stripe and black points who now stands at about 15.2hh.

He really belongs to my daughter Georgia, who helped to deliver him as a foal, and she trained him herself. They have a lovely close relationship but now she is so busy at college she allows him to be used as an escort horse and to be ridden by some experienced clients.


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Oregon out on a trek

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Dakota and Oregon enjoying a trek










As a foal he was really bold and not scared of anything, a very different character to Dakota. He was quite a good little escape artist too.

He has grown up to be a super confident horse and has a very laidback attitude to life.

Georgia’s next plan is to teach him Western riding. Won’t he look fantastic in Western tack!











Next to arrive in 2014 was Indiana, Nicoh’s second foal and Dakota’s full sister. She was such a pretty new born foal, chocolate bay with a white star, a totally different colour to her brother.

She was a much more confident baby and was quite cheekily inquisitive. Dakota doesn’t really like cuddles very much but she is the opposite, she loves to be loved.


cannock chase trekking centre

cannock chase trekking centre

Playtime for Indiana & Arizona











Indiana has beautiful floaty movements too, but while Dakota is dainty like their mum, his sister is a grey version of Zidane. Indiana has a bigger build and more powerful strides. I think she will fill out to be a big and strong horse.

I have been training her for a while and have just started taking her out on the Chase, where I have found her to be bold and confident.

Our instructor Lucy has her eye on her as a future dressage prospect. We are very excited to see how she will progress in 2019.

cannock chase trekking centre

Schooling Indiana











Her birth colour has now disappeared and she is also a grey, developing Appaloosa spots.

Look out over the next couple of days for part two of my guide to the babies.

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