Toby – Irish Coloured Cob

Toby’s official name is Tobias Jug – it brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.

And Toby makes me smile a lot too, because he is such a good and reliable boy here at the trekking centre.

We seem to have a theme going of horses I have found through friends and Toby is another one.

toby, cannock chase trekking centre

Toby out on Cannock Chase

I had already bought several horses – including Chase and Splash – from this particular friend, who has a very good eye for a nice horse.

She had moved to Loughborough when she contacted me to see if I would be interested in a great little straightforward 14.3hh coloured Cob. Lucy, a long term member of my staff whose judgement I totally trust, was at the time living in Nottingham, where she had a horse transport business.

Lucy went to see him on my behalf and liked him so much she didn’t even try him! She just popped him on her horse box and brought him to me.

As soon as he arrived we kitted him out with tack, jumped on him and took him out on the Chase. Toby is one of the few horses I have ever bought who really needed nothing at all from me, he just went straight into work.

And he has never looked back. I don’t think we have ever had a problem with him.

Toby's Tash

Toby showing off his winter Tash

He is a happy and relaxed pony whose forte is teaching lots of novices. Because of his size he can carry both children and light adults, so he is very versatile.

He makes us laugh every autumn. As his winter coat arrives he grows a fabulous moustache! I always say he grows it for Movember and he becomes Colonel Toby.

This year was lovely as Pam, a member of my staff, is one of his biggest fans and she took him on his first ever Sheriff of Lichfield’s Ride.

Toby in the Lichfield Sheriff's Ride

Toby & Pam in the Lichfield Sheriff’s Ride 2018

The two preparation days were really hard work for her as Toby has a very thick mane and tail and long and dense feathers on his legs. She had to scrub and scrub but it was well worth her efforts.

He looked immaculate and it was fabulous to see him so beautifully turned out and enjoying every minute of his big day out.

Tia – Irish Cob Cross Mare

TIA – Irish Cob Cross

This gorgeous mare is my Apache war horse! That is what I think she looks like with her striking markings and I can just imagine her decorated with war paint.

But she doesn’t have a warlike nature at all. In fact, as anyone who rides her knows, she is the sweetest girl, with a kind and gentle personality.
Tia Cannock Chase Trekking Centre

Like many of my horses, she came to me via word of mouth. The people who owned her had bought her as a foal, but when it came to breaking-in time when she was about four they found she was too lively and a little bit of a handful.

I was about to retire one of my original trekking horses, Duke, who needed a happy hacking home. As Tia was kept nearby her owner suggested that I took a look at her, and maybe we could arrange a horse swap. And that is what we did.

With Chase as company I rode Duke down to their yard, and rode Tia back home. My first impression was that she was very sharp – rather different to the laid back and calm lady she is today!

The next day I took her straight out for two hours on Cannock Chase and I never had a problem from then on. She just needed to be at finishing school for a little while and push past one or two things she found scary.

Since then she has done everything to the best of her ability, from the Wales holidays to the Sheriff’s Ride.

Tia Cannock Chase trekking

Tia at Fairbourne Beach

Tia Cannock Chase Trekking

Tia & Chase leading the Sheriffs Ride

As soon as I bought my Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane I realised that Tia would make a great mother as she is 16.1hh and a strong, well made mare.

So in 2013 I put her in foal and she produced a beautiful filly we called Arizona. Her daughter was a perfect mini-me, looking exactly like her mum.

Tia Cannock Chase Trekking

Tia and Arizona

As readers of my foaling diary blog will remember, Tia was sneaky and caught me out. I had been watching her for days and she gave birth when I wasn’t looking. But I was quickly on scene and as she was a nervous first-time mummy, I helped the foal to stand and suckle for the first time.

Tia soon became a chilled out and relaxed mother. Nicoh gave birth three days later to Indiana and when the two mares went out together Tia was quite happy to let Nicoh watch both babies while she took a nap!

Because Arizona was such a big quality youngster I decided to put Tia in foal to Zidane again and in 2017 she gave birth to a fantastic colt foal. Colorado is even bigger than his sister.

Tia, Cannock Chase Trekking

Tia and Colorado

Arizona is now broken in and is becoming a fabulous trekking centre horse so we are all very excited about Colorado for the future.

Meanwhile, as her foals grow up, Tia is still loving her cantering out on the Chase and is becoming so good at teaching lots of new riders in the arena. She is a gorgeous girl and is much loved by everyone here.

Tia Cannock Chase Trekking

Tia, Arizona & Colorado

Summer – Welsh Section C

Summer is our little strawberry roan superstar and is the last of our S’s on our journey around the stable yard – but she is certainly not the least.

She is the grandma of our herd – the oldest of my horses – but Summer still has energy to spare and loves her work.

She was about six when I bought her from a rather exclusive riding school that was closing down. I was looking for a really nice pony and she was recommended to me by someone who said if she became available I absolutely must buy her.

I didn’t actually go and see her! But when she arrived I thought she was a little bit fat and put her straight on a diet and into work.

It was winter and at that time all my horses were stabled. One Monday morning I had a call from staff member Lucy to say I needed to get down to the yard as quickly as possible – and bring the video camera!

At first Lucy had thought Summer was suffering from colic. Then she realised the mare was in labour!

Soon we had a beautiful chestnut filly foal that I decided to call Autumn. I later rang the people I had bought Summer from and told them about our little bonus. They said Summer could not possibly have had a foal as they had no stallions.

Then they realised that they had turned out with Summer and another mare an 18-month-old British Arab colt. Surprise, surprise – he was chestnut with four white socks and a flaxen mane and tail, identical to our baby Autumn! And they called me later to say the other mare had also produced an unexpected foal.

As everybody knows, we still have both mother and daughter and they have always been fantastic members of my team.

Summer has always taken life here at the trekking centre in her stride and has taught thousands of children to ride. Since we built the new indoor arena she has become a favourite with our instructors because of her kind and gentle nature and willingness in the lessons.

Summer, a favourite at Pony Club

She is fantastic at teaching children to canter. We have someone who has been waiting for ages to offer Summer a retirement home but so far she shows no signs at all of slowing down.

She is one of those genuinely safe and sensible ponies that are worth their weight in gold. It has been an absolute pleasure to own her for all these years.


Half Term Pony Fun – Nutmeg and Shrimp

NUTMEG – dark bay Exmoor

This beautiful girl joined the trekking centre after her previous  owner popped in to ask if we would be interested in a pony they had that was in a field and doing no work.

I agreed to give her a try and the first thing we did on her arrival was bath her and clip her as she was so hairy.


We started working Nutmeg very quickly and she settled immediately. She loves life in the herd and spends lots of time with her My Little Pony team friends.

She is quite lively and independent,  yet is very safe, so she is great for confident children who want to ride outside.

Nutmeg is a firm favourite and is loved by all the children who ride her. She is always having pictures drawn of her!

She makes us laugh because she does love her sleep and if she gets tired of waiting to work she always lies down for a nap!

And we finish half term week with the last of our tiny team – the very lovable Mr Shrimp.

MR SHRIMP – Cremello Welsh Section A

My nickname for him is Prawn! – He is a Welsh Section A with the lovely cream colouring known as Cremello.

He is yet another of my herd found for me by my former yard manager and now instructor Lucy. He belonged to a good friend of hers in Nottingham and she had owned him since he was a foal.

She had broken him in herself and had shown him very successfully at a high level. But she had to part with him and asked Lucy if we might be looking for another member of our pony team.

The new indoor arena was about to open so we were keen to find another good pony for children’s lessons. I completely trust Lucy’s judgement so I was happy to take Mr Shrimp.


And I am very glad I did. He is absolutely adorable! He loves his little riders and always wants to be cuddled and snuggled.

Just like Nutmeg he loves to take a nap, but he lies totally flat and motionless and sometimes he scares us. I think playing dead is his little joke!


Half Term Pony Fun – Georgie and Lady

This is day two of our half term pony fun and today we are getting to know GEORGIE and LADY.


Georgie, whose real name is Farmer George, is the newest addition to our tiny pony line-up and we came across him when he was a companion in a field for our retired little chap Tommy Tucker.

His family had bought him for their children but they had lost interest in riding and a good home was the priority.


Georgie poses for the camera

I went to a take a look and loved him as soon as I saw him. I went next day with the trailer to fetch him and we soon hit a problem. He really did not like loading and quickly became quite distressed.

I decided not to put him through the ordeal and as he was only on the other side of the Chase, his owners very kindly walked him all the way to me.

Since joining us last year he has become more and more confident, even to the extent of loading on a horse box without any problems!

I call him Georgie Porgie because he loves to kiss the girls – although he never makes anyone cry! He is a really affectionate little lad and he loves kisses and cuddles from his children when they have finished their lessons.


The third member of our little gang is our gorgeous and very cheeky LADY.


Lady, with one of our young riders

She came to me after someone I knew of had bought her for his grandchildren. Unfortunately, it ended up with the common scenario of the children losing interest and the pony ending up as a lawn mower.  My friend was looking for a good home for Lady as she was getting very fat and starting with laminitis due to lack of exercise.

I went to see her and found she had a really cheeky personality.  I had to have her – I loved her quirkiness. And when I got her Welsh Section A papers I found she had the same birthday as me, so it was clearly meant to be.

She arrived at the centre and has never looked back. Lady is super in the school and is brilliant at taking our young riders for their first treks on the Chase.

The only problem I have with her is that she is still a greedy girl! She would eat constantly if we let her. She never knows when to stop, so we have to keep her on a restricted diet.

Half Term Pony Fun – Dolly

Half term pony fun

As it’s half term this week I decided to turn my blog over to some tiny but very important members of my team.

These are My Little Ponies, five boys and girls who provide so much fun for all the children who come to the trekking centre for lessons and pony experiences.

Our young clients might like to know a little bit more about their four-legged friends and we start with Dolly.


This lovely little pony was found for me by my then yard manager Sally, who knew her owner.

Sally recommended Dolly and said she was a cracking pony that I really needed to see. So we went to take a look and I fell in love with her straight away.

dolly, cannock chase trekking centre

She is a beautiful, dainty little Welsh Section A who lives up to her pretty name. With her Palamino colouring and lovely long mane she is every little rider’s dream pony. She has proved to be absolutely invaluable to me.

Dolly will take all the children from walk right up to canter and is happy to be used in the school on her own, without the company of the other ponies, she is brilliant at helping children to canter for the first time. Dolly is great in our pony club sessions and will stand patiently while our younger riders learn to groom, tack up and plait that beautiful mane!

Dolly, cannock chase trekking centre

She has a wonderful personality and is very kind and maternal. She is a sucker for our babies and will always take a newcomer to the herd under her wing and look after them until they settle in. Dolly really is a darling.

Head over to our children’s events page or our Facebook page to see all of our activities this half term week.


Spirit – Chestnut Welsh Section D

SPIRIT – Welsh Section D

Our beautiful Spirit with his chestnut coat and flaxen mane and tail is a very handsome Welsh Section D Cob with a registered name to match his looks – Elvirra Miracle.

When I bought him he was called Travis but he reminded us of the Disney character horse Spirit and so his name was changed. I think it really suits him. He was an unbroken three-year-old but was a lovely straightforward, problem free little horse to train.

As readers of my blog know, I think Welsh Section D’s can often be tricky in the early stages but Spirit was the exception. I had no facilities at the time, so I trained him in the field and we had no difficulties at all.

I backed him quite early and my most vivid memory is my first canter on him. I have always said he is one of the fastest horses I have owned. I had tears in my eyes when I pulled up that first time,he was quick!

I soon had him riding out but he was still too young for clients. Lucy, one of my senior staff members, was heading to university to study equine psychology, and he went off to college with her so she could continue his education .

When he came home I trained him for Western riding and I also taught him to bow! These days he can be ridden both Western and English and I keep saying that I am going to switch him back to full time Western. He is the centre’s cowboy horse!

As the years have passed he has found his place in the middle of the ability range. He excels at giving experienced clients a fast paced ride, but he is also safe and sensible enough for the less capable. Confident novices do really well with him.

My yard manager Sonia recently took him on the Sheriff of Lichfield Ride and was seriously impressed by him. He went like a dream for her all day.

Spirit, cannock chase trekking centr

We had a brilliant surprise a couple of years ago when his very first owner managed to track him down and contacted us to find out how he was. She was so thrilled to find that he was here, happy, healthy and loving his life.

Skye – Grey Irish Cob

SKYE – Grey Irish cob.

Skye is an absolute star here at the trekking centre and is priceless to me for his ability to put nervous riders at their ease.

He came to me from the same owners as Red, who had been his next-door neighbour on their previous stable yard.

The stable yard proprietor had bought Skye for her husband, who was used to riding Thoroughbreds. But he found this big lad too laid back and not agile enough in the school.

I went to try him, and although he was very young I soon managed to get him cantering around the school and I knew he had potential for me.

He was so laid back that when he arrived I pretty much turned him straight out with the herd and he had no trouble at all. He was very comfortable in the middle of the group.

Skye joining the herd

One of the highlights in his life here was when I bought Red and he was reunited with his old friend. The pair recognised each other straight away and bonded immediately. They will happily share a stable and Skye would even share his dinner with him!

In fact, Skye was my training partner in sorting out Red. His friendship with this gentle giant reduced Red’s stress levels and relaxed him so that he could absorb my training.

Sky is safe, gentle and kind and hasn’t got an unpredictable bone in his body. You could ride him out alone in complete safety.

Skye and Lady on a trek

Skye welcoming Nymeria to the herd.

He is very popular with our novice male riders who are often dragged here by a partner and don’t really want to ride at all! But an hour with Skye ends their fears and gives them the confidence to come again.

Sometimes he can be frustrating when I know he isn’t giving his all in his work. But I wish people who say they can’t get him going could see him galloping full blast with Michelle, one of my regular experienced riders who loves him to bits. She has taken him on the beach rides and the Sheriff’s Ride and the pair of them fly!

Skye-Cannock Chase Trekking Centre

Skye at Fairbourne Beach

Skye- Cannock chase trekking centre

Skye feeling the ‘Christmas’ Love

I do like experienced clients to ride him because the worst thing you can do with a laid back horse like him is to keep putting beginners on him.

Mind you, we’ve recently found that he gets very excited in our new indoor arena and he has been having a little buck in the bareback lessons! I love to see him having fun.

Sahara – Coloured Oldenburg Mare


Our beautiful Sahara really is a very special girl. She is a pink papered pure bred Oldenburg from Germany.

Her daddy is Sanyo, a top continental stallion from an elite family that includes the famous sires Samber and Sandro. Sanyo fetched 110,000 Euros at auction just after his stallion grading!

Sahara arrived at Cannock Chase Trekking Centre after I had bought my wonderful Oldenburg stallion Zidane. His former owner had a mare called Saminca with a yearling foal at foot and asked me if I would like to buy them.

I was so happy with Zidane I decided I would like the mare as well. It was a little bit tricky at first because Sahara had not been weaned at six months, which is what I always do with my foals.

Because Sahara was much older the bond with her mother became very intense and it was difficult to wean her. I felt, with my previous experience of young horses, that leaving them together so long had been detrimental to both of them.

The bond between them never broke and they were always very needy of each other. When they were apart it was very difficult. Sahara would even go through a fence to get back to her mother.

Sahara with her mother, Saminca

Sahara with her mother, Saminca

But eventually they settled into the herd and I was able to break in Saminca. When it was time to train Sahara I decided that it would be best to keep only one of them.

Saminca was the sort of horse who really needed a one on one relationship with an owner. She was never really a suitable trekking horse so we found her a good home.

That was the making of Sahara. Once her mum was gone she really relaxed, grew up and matured.

Sahara out trekking

Sahara out trekking

She was a late developer so I gave her lots of time to grow. People always ask me at what age do I start with a horse. I always say it depends on the individual horse. Some I can start early, Sahara needed a little extra time.

She was very easy to train, accepting everything and she is a lovely genuine mare. She needs to kept interested. As soon as I backed her she was bored with the arena so I took her straight out on the Chase and she loved it.

Over the last year Sahara has become a real favourite with the experienced clients. Everybody who rides her says she floats.

Sahara on the Lichfield Sheriff's Ride

Sahara on the Lichfield Sheriff’s Ride

This winter our plan is to develop her work in the arena. She is bred for dressage and jumping so we hope our experienced riders will enjoy some special lessons with her.

Saffy – Clydesdale x Cob

We have a nice little group of horses here whose names all begin with S and they are headed by Saffy.

Her breeding is Cob with a good dash of Clydesdale and she is what’s known as a Blagdon Cob. That means she has a lot of white in her genes. This appears in her showy white markings and her unusual spring ‘in between’ coat, which is almost strawberry roan with lots of white hairs. When she loses that her summer coat is a rich bay, like Lola and Benson.

I find quite a lot of my horses through friends and Saffy is one of them. One of my retired ponies, Millie, had gone to a lovely family home where she was having lots of fun with the daughter, Lauren.

They had a very nice young mare that they had bought as a baby and shown very successfully in hand. She had been professionally broken, then turned away to grow and mature but when she came back into work she was a little too feisty for Lauren.

They were very sad to make the decision to sell and their priority was a good home where they could keep track of her.

That was where I entered the picture. I went to visit my old friend Millie and at the same time I took a look at Saffy.

I found her to be a little tense and wary but she was very responsive to my natural horsemanship. Within ten minutes I had achieved join up and I believed my approach would be ideal for her. Her family were sad to see her go but were sure the trekking centre was the right home.

I immediately began training her. Jake had arrived at almost the same time and having the two newbies together helped them to settle in. They are still best friends.

Saffy learned really quickly and was soon being ridden out on the Chase, which she loved – and still does!

She was not used to living with a large group of horses and at first didn’t like having them around her on the treks, but she soon got over that and has gone from strength to strength.

Our yard manager Sonia has trained her as her guide horse and the two of them have a very close relationship. Sonia says Saffy is afraid of nothing, describing her as one of the most honest and genuine horses she has ridden.

Saffy has done beach rides and the Sheriffs’ rides and is now working well in the arena too.

She is one of our most comfortable horses to ride and has a lovely nature. She is very happy here and her old family still come to visit.