Red – Appaloosa – Gelding

Red – Appaloosa – Gelding
Red – full name Afon Fed – is one of our most popular horses here at the centre, he has come so far from the horse that he was when he first arrived here.
This handsome and traditional spotted Appaloosa gelding found me through one of our lovely regular young riders.  As well as riding here she also rode at a riding school where her favourite was a spotted horse.  The family  decided to buy one of their own and went to the stud where this horse had come from, an bought Red. He was ungelded and had only just been backed.
In my opinion this is a bit like buying a Ferrari as your first car, especially as Appaloosas can often be a little bit quirky and need a lot of work. I would not choose such a green horse for a first-time owner.  She moved him to a new yard and had a lot of instructors trying to help her with him but he still became, in my view, a little bit dangerous. When I was asked to give my opinion and met him for the first time I found him to be one of the scariest and most unpredictable horses I have ever sat on.
I don’t scare easily and I don’t get off a horse easily, but this boy was worrying about everything his rider might do, so he just couldn’t settle or feel safe. She was trying to ride him through his problems, but I would not ride a horse who was feeling so tense. I did some ground work with him and I could feel his tension as soon as I mounted.
I offered to help with Red but eventually his family decided to offer him to me. It was a tough decision for them to make because they are lovely people who loved him very much. As it happened I had a nice Welsh Section D called QT who needed a quieter life, so we decided to swop horses.
His yard wasn’t very far from me so I rode QT over there to fetch Red with another horse as company. I have to admit that on the way back I was thinking ‘what have I done?’ because I had to leap off him at least twice.
It took a couple of weeks of really intensive training and me riding him out to start to get through to him and get him through whatever it was that was bothering him. Eventually I started to make progress.
Writing this story now makes me think that all of you who know Red and love riding him so much will never believe it!
People say to me now that you can trust him with your life – and that is absolutely true. Years later no-one can begin to imagine the sort of horse that he was.
The trekking centre was his saving grace. The feeling of security he gained from living in our herd environment enabled him to be ridden in a quiet and calm atmosphere. He felt safe and at ease.
I bought Skye from the same yard and they had been stabled next door to each other. Skye was already here when Red arrived and straight away they became best friends in the field. They will even share a stable beautifully. Relaxing in Skye’s company really helped Red to chill out and for such a nervy horse he never had problems in the field.
I think in another environment he would never have become the horse he is now. He does everything and has always done everything that is asked of him. He is so relaxed and happy in the indoor arena that he excels in our lessons.
He is so different to the horse I bought – our handsome boy and a reformed character.

Princess – Highland Dun Mare

PRINCESS – Highland Dun Mare
This little lady is a Highland and a beautiful cream dun – and she had a surprise in store for us when she arrived!
Princess was a three-year-old when she joined the trekking centre.
I was looking for a pony with a bit of bone, suitable for both children and lightweight adults. Princess was for sale in Stoke and I went to see her with Jackie, one of the girls working for me at the time.
The pony had been brought over from Ireland and had only been lightly backed. The people selling her didn’t know much about her history but she was a lovely sweet mare.
We had a little trial of her and she was very green and I knew I would have a lot of work to do. But I was happy with that. I like to put my own stamp on a horse.
We agreed to have her and Princess came to the trekking centre a couple of days later. Once she arrived I had a really good look over her and I almost kicked myself. Knowing she was only three I could see her teats were a little bit swollen and her stomach a bit low slung for a pony of her age.
Straight away I suspected she was in foal and I asked my vet to come over with the scanner and check her over. The vet confirmed it – Princess was pregnant!
I had really mixed feelings. Business-wise I was cross with myself because I needed another pony for the centre and that is why I had bought her. But I love babies and I was so excited that we were going to have a foal!
The lady I had bought her from offered to have Princess back, but I decided to keep her and turned her out in the field for a few months. Then I stabled her at night with the cameras on so I could keep an eye on what was happening.
I was keeping a close eye on her and she was showing none of the signs that we look for to indicate that foaling is imminent.
One evening she was checked at 8pm after an evening ride and I came back an hour later to take a look at her again. As I put the lights on I could see something cream against the door. It was the foal!
She had been sneaky – as maiden mares often are – and in that hour she had quietly given birth all by herself. We had another beautiful dun with a dorsal stripe and stripey legs.
We called the filly Wispa – after the chocolate bar – but it’s a name with a double meaning because she was her mum’s little secret.
Princess had six months’ maternity leave and once Wispa was weaned I got on with the job of schooling and riding. Jackie had a soft spot for her and did a lot of work with her as well.
We found that Princess was very forward going and she has always been an exciting ride. She wasn’t one we could put any rider on but as she has got a little bit older and more experienced she has really come into her own, even winning ‘Best Turned Out’ at the Lichfield Sheriffs Ride.
Now we are using her in the riding school and for pony club activities and she has a great jump.
She is our BOGOF – Buy One and Get One Free!

Pirate – Coloured Irish Cob – Gelding

The Wales saga continued …….the last of the mountain gang!
Pirate was my friend Vernon’s breeding stallion at his farm in the Welsh mountains, producing some lovely babies.
I always loved him because although he is a coloured horse he is mainly black, with a distinctive pirate eye patch. He is my own Johnny Depp of the horse world.
I first met Pirate when I took one of my mares to be mated with him. I fell in love with him immediately and when I returned to see Paddy I asked if I could have Pirate too, although I didn’t want to keep him as a stallion.
After a bit of convincing Vernon agreed, and Pirate joined my epic four-horse shopping spree.
As with the others he went through the whole health routine when he arrived and he had to be gelded too. Just like the other three, he took everything we threw at him.
Sometimes you come across horses that are like naughty children because they haven’t been brought up correctly. But these had been allowed to be horses, to behave naturally, and we found they loved every aspect of being trekking centre horses.
They have been the most simple of horses to work with and they have thrived here in our happy herd environment.
Pirate is a lovely lad, probably one of the most popular that we have for newcomers to riding. He is such a great character and is so safe and dependable that he gives people a memorable and enjoyable first experience of the trekking centre. For beginners or for riders who have lost their confidence he is wonderful.
And some of my regular experienced riders are currently having a fabulous time with him on the treks. They are finding him a really exciting ride – our Mr Dependable has hidden depths!
In the herd he is a very sociable horse. You will often see him sparring with either his son Lightning or today, as I write this blog, Mr Shrimp. They are playing a fun game of trying to take each other’s legs and dropping their playmate to their knees. Although a strong member of the team he is one of the most playful in the herd dynamics.
Some people thought it was a shame to geld him and take him away from his mountain environment.
But I knew it was the right decision. He is a fantastically happy horse and loves the life he has here. We are so lucky to have him. Our clients enjoy riding him just as much as we enjoy owning him.

Paddy – Coloured Irish Cob – Gelding

PADDY – Coloured Irish Cob – Gelding
Paddy was one of the four I brought home from my Wales adventure – probably my best ever shopping trip!
You will remember from last week’s blog about Melody that I originally agreed to buy two coloured cobs.
Paddy was one of them and he was special from the start. He had been gelded late, so he was a nice big horse who still looked like a stallion. He had a lot of presence but in a calm way, so he had a strong and dependable demeanour.
Like Mel, when he arrived he had to go through the whole routine of vet, farrier and dentist and he was unfazed by the whole procedure. He went straight into training and within two weeks he was riding out on the Chase with me on his first trek.
We did have a little hiccup with him a while later when he started to catch a few people off their guard. Because he is a big hairy cob people are inclined to think he is bound to be a dopey plodder and some were underestimating him.
He isn’t a plodder – he is actually a forward going and active ride and for a while I only put my stronger riders on him. We soon worked him through it and those experienced clients have helped to make him the lovely cob he is today.
Now he is a delight to ride and so dependable, he is a real confidence giver. We find that when we are teaching people to canter for the first time he will give them a really fantastic first experience.
Paddy has such a good reputation these days that we call him “Super Cob”. At first glance people see him as a traditional coloured cob – some clients even ask if he is a Shire – but there is more to him than meets the eye. If we were to clip off all his hair, underneath you would see a quality horse, much finer than he looks!
He doesn’t need a lot of leg or encouragement. He is a really comfortable ride and he has that boost of extra power that makes cantering on him really exhilarating. But he is kind and gentle too, which makes him the perfect package for all levels of riders.
Just one problem – he is quite laid back in the indoor arena! I ended up riding him myself during one of my bareback lessons  and although I got him going nicely in the end, it was a bit of a challenge! But it gives us something to work on and we will get there.
Paddy’s most endearing quality is the spectacular moustache he grows with his winter coat. His “Movember Moustache” has to be seen to be believed.
One of our lovely regular riders, Marie, is a great Paddy fan and this winter she bought him the most gorgeous leopard print turn-out rug. Twinned with his big moustache he has now been nicknamed “Medallion Man”!


The beautiful Melody is another of my lovely Welsh horses and her purchase was quite an adventure.
I had gone on a personal visit to stay on my friends’ farm in Wales, taking just two horses for a couple of days on a seaside break.
My friend Vernon asked if I was looking for another new horse as he had a couple of nice coloured cobs for sale. I went to have a look and decided to buy them both – but more of that when their turn arrives on our tour of the stables!
Vernon then said he had two promising mares up in the mountains and suggested taking a look at them as well – despite the fact that they were unbroken, unhandled and completely wild.
Off we went up the mountain, through gates and over desolate open moors. Every now and again Vernon would stop, get out of the Land Rover and give his trademark call. Nothing appeared and all we saw were sheep.
I had with me Charlotte and Jackie, the two girls who worked for me, and the three of us were really enjoying our intrepid adventure!
Eventually we reached the highest point of the mountain and had to get out and walk. Vernon called again and over the hill appeared two beautiful bay Welsh Section D mares. They were inquisitive but were wary and wouldn’t come near and I wandered around them, as close as I could get. They were sisters, May and Melody.
Their conformation and type was beautiful and I said I would have them both. Charlotte and Jackie looked at me as if I had gone crazy!
I returned a few days later and collected all four horses. Poor Melody, on arrival here she was hit with everything – vetting, injections, farrier, dentist, worming – and took the lot in her stride, as did the others.
I started training her straight away and within two weeks we were riding her. Because they had led a very natural life with Vernon, none of them had any worries about anything. Although they hadn’t been handled they hadn’t been mishandled either. I wasn’t having to undo other people’s mistakes and all four proved easy to train to ride.
Melody is such a sweet mare and is a lovely forward-going ride . She is kind and very genuine and has willingly done everything we have ever asked of her.
In the field she sticks with her Wales companions. She and Paddy are inseparable friends, although she does have a secret crush on herd leader Buttons. We often smile to see her following Buttons, with the devoted Paddy two steps behind.Two Hearts on Apple iOS 10.2


It’s often said that some people and animals are just meant to be together. That is something I firmly believe in because it has happened to me too many times to be just coincidence.
Look at Lightning, my beautiful coloured cob. Fate certainly had a hand in his arrival at the trekking centre. I will tell you the story.
I was looking for a happy hacking retirement home for one of my horses, PJ, and advertised him on my Facebook page.
I had quite a lot of response, but one reply came from a lady who asked if I would consider a swop. She had a newly broken young horse but was finding him a little bit too much for her and wanted a nice sensible all-rounder for herself and her children.
In a strange turn of fate it turned out that the horse she was offering me had been sired by our very own Pirate, bred in Wales by my dear friend Vernon and I had known him since he was a foal!
I had seen him many times on our regular visits to Wales for our riding holidays, when we were based on Vernon’s farm. Vernon had quite a few youngsters by Pirate, but Lightning had always been one of my favourites because of the large amount of black on him.
Vernon had asked if I wanted him but at the time I hadn’t got room for another horse. Next time I went the youngsters had been sold and I felt a pang of disappointment. Little did I know then that Lightning would travel across the country and find me again!
When I realised that the horse I was being offered was my little black cob from Wales I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t even go to see him. The lady came to try PJ, loved him, and the deal was done.
The way I would describe Lightning is a real-life My Little Pony in big size. With a long flowing mane that sweeps his shoulders and a gorgeous full tail, he just needs a butterfly or rainbow on his booty!
He was a little bit green when he arrived, so I went back to long reining and loose schooling before we ventured out on the Chase and he took everything in his stride.He was willing and keen and has gone from strength to strength.
Lightning excels at everything he does, from the bareback lessons to the riding holidays. I was so proud of him on the Sheriff’s Ride when he won the best turned out prize with our Mel. He looked stunning with his beautiful mane and feathers plaited.
He made friends in the herd very quickly. It was interesting that he had never before met his father Pirate but they became best friends immediately and are now inseperable. I love to watch them interacting.
People sometimes say that stallions don’t know their babies, but I believe that’s wrong. Capulate and Atlantis, Lightning and Pirate, Zidane and his little herd of youngsters – they all have a special relationship and definitely know their babies!
One of my most emotional moments was when we took Lightning on his first riding holiday to Wales. He was returning for the first time to the farm where he was born.
When we turned our horses out to graze he led our gang of 15 at a canter to the fence bordering the next-door field. Waiting to greet him there was his mum – they hadn’t met since he was sold but they clearly remembered each other and were reunited for a week.
It did cross my mind that he wouldn’t get on the horse box to come home! But there were no problems and we decided Lightning preferred to live with his dad.


This handsome bay pony may only be a little chap but he’s going to make a big impact here at the trekking centre.
Leo came to us thanks to one of my friends, who told me one of her work colleagues was looking for a good home for her daughter’s pony. He was a Pony Club type, but was sadly outgrown and they needed a bigger one for her.
She sent me some photographs of him doing all sorts of Pony Club activities and being ridden through water without a care in the world. But they did say he was a little bit cheeky and needed a knowledgeable home.
He was kept at livery at a riding school and my friend and I went over to Tamworth to have a look at him there. He had a lovely home and was clearly much loved by everyone.
I had in mind our upcoming equestrian centre redevelopment and the construction of the new indoor arena and was planning lessons, jumping and pony club activities, so I decided he would be ideal.
I said I would buy him and went back a few days later with my horse box to collect him. It’s always the same when I buy a new horse – I get so excited I have to fetch them straight away. I literally cannot sleep the night before!
Leo settled straight into our herd when he arrived but I found he wasn’t ready for clients yet, so my girls rode him for a while.
At one time I did think he might not be quite what we needed at the trekking centre. Then somebody asked me about having him and I got on him myself to demonstrate him.
I changed my mind immediately! There was no way we were going to part with him!
Sometimes we don’t have strong enough riders among our little girls to hack him out, but since we opened the new arena he has really started to shine.
Leo has a lot of ability and energy and he is thriving in our lessons and pony activity sessions. He jumps like a stag and I am really excited for the summer to see him over the cross-country fences we are building. He is going to give his riders a lot of pleasure.
Watch this space ……. this pony is going to be quite special.


The lovely Larosa – stable name Lola – is a bay Welsh Section D mare whose registered name is actually Budore Lea-Rose.
I always call her Larosa, even though nearly everyone else calls her Lola.
She is another find by Lucy, my former yard manager. Lucy wasn’t working with me at the time but I still asked her if she would keep her eyes open for a nice new horse for the trekking centre. I wanted something forward going for our experienced riders.
Lucy spotted Larosa on a yard in Tamworth. She had been bred in Ireland by a lady who did a lot of showjumping but also produced horses to sell. The mare had been lightly backed and had done a little bit of ground work, but I wanted to put my own stamp on her as for me she wasn’t ready to be mounted.
She reminded me a lot of one of the best mares I have ever had, one of my original trekking horses called Melody, so decided to buy her and  went back a couple of days later to bring her home.
The jumpiness I had noticed when I first went to see her soon quietened down when I began working with her and she soon relaxed on our yard.
I started riding her out quite quickly and she took to it straight away. She is very genuine and straightforward lady, who absolutely loves being out on the Chase.
My stud vet had a look at her and said she would produce a fantastic foal.  Once out in the field she turned into our Nanny McPhee. When all of our foals have  been weaned Larosa has become their surrogate mother. I soon realised I would have to breed from her because she absolutely loves babies!  I decided she deserved to have one of her own with our handsome stallion Zidane. She gave birth to the most beautiful coloured foal that we called Montana and, as I had expected, she turned out to be a fantastic mother.
The only downside was that when we brought her back into work she was super excited to be out on the Chase again, so I started to ride her myself, she was very lively and it took her a while to settle back down.
Her daughter Montana is such a high quality filly that I am thinking that Larosa may be the next one that we put back in foal. We really should seize the chance to breed another classy foal from her and have beautiful ‘mini Larosa’s’ for future Trekking Centre horses.
Larosa is a lovely mare to own, she is perfect in every way.


Jacob’s Creek – better known to everyone as Jake – is one of our newest arrivals here at the trekking centre.
After the retirement of Thomas and Meg I decided we needed another big horse, so I set my former yard manager Lucy the task of tracking down a likely recruit.
I wanted something flashy and coloured, preferably Irish crossed with something a little bit finer and Lucy discovered Jake in Derby. He sounded ideal, with an Irish dad and a Dutch Warmblood mum, which had produced a lovely big baby.
I went off to see him and check him over. He had been started and lightly worked but seemed a little moody, so I asked his owner to find me some long reins and I took him off to have a little play with him. I wanted to find out how far his schooling had gone.
Everything went wrong! He was acting up, shouting for his mum, big tractors were going past and he generally misbehaved and was cheeky. His owner was quite surprised when I said I wanted him! But I quite liked his cheekiness.
His owner had bred Jake and was quite upset to let him go, but he just hadn’t got the time to bring him on.
I have said before that I always feel some horses are meant to be mine and Jake is another one of those. His birthday is the same as the guy that bred him – which just happens to be my birthday too. So it was clearly fate that he ended up with me.
When I got him home I started straight away with loose schooling and long reining him. I did a lot of ground work and then started riding him out. I rode himself for all his initial schooling and hacking.
We have only had him for two years and in that time he has not only grown more, but he has also muscled up. To us he still seems to be growing.
Jake has turned out to be an absolute star. Last year he did his first Sheriff’s Ride, which he took completely in his stride.
He has become a really great horse for our experienced riders,on the treks and in the school. He has a good jump and we are excited to see what he will do when we start our cross-country clinics this summer.
I could do with another couple just like him – and I will be on the lookout this summer.


We’re flying along with our tour of the trekking centre horses and today we’ve reached the appropriately named Jetwings – better known to you all as Galaxy.
This gorgeous Irish x Arab boy is actually registered under the name Jetwings with the Arab Horse Society and he surely must be one of the most loved and popular horses at the centre. He has such a fan club!
I truly believe that in life your animals find you and that most of the horses here were meant to be mine. And that is certainly the case with Galaxy.
I had a phone call from a friend of mine who had a trekking centre in Wales. Rupert had bought a flashy coloured horse for his wife, but he was proving a real handful and was getting to be a little too much for her.
Rupert just wanted to know how much a horse of that quality was going for at that time with a view to selling him on.
My ears pricked up straight away. I knew that my friends in Wales had a real eye for a good horse. If they rated him, he was the real deal. So I asked for some photographs of him.
The pictures came and I loved him straight away and I had even negotiated a price before I went to try him.
Off I went to Wales, where I found everyone on the yard calling him “The Posh Horse”. I rode him, bought him and had travelled there in a horse box so I could bring him straight home.
Galaxy proved to be quite lively, so I started riding him myself and schooling him. I was tempted to keep him for myself, but to be fair I think that about most of them!

I found him to be a super horse to ride, forward going, keen and bold with lovely paces and he soon became sensible and reliable. He is such a good looking horse, so handsome, and he has become very popular.
I have a bit of trouble trying to get the clients to share Galaxy nicely! Everyone wants to ride him.
My biggest problem is trying to work out whose turn it is! We are standing in the paddock before a trek while I allocate horses and then I spot that all the Galaxy fans are looking at me hopefully! Someone gets lucky while the rest just have to hope they will get the chance next time