Tyri – by Lisa Gregory

It’s time to choose another Horse of the Week and, as it’s my turn, I am opting for our beautiful Tyri.

I know this strikingly marked big boy is a great favourite with many of you, so he deserves to be in the spotlight.


I bought Tyri in August 2018. My yard manager, Sonia, had spotted an advertisement and, knowing I was in the market for a new horse, alerted me. My aim was to find another big horse, a Brodie type, and so I rang up about him and then went to have a look.

He was from the Isle Of Man originally, but had been brought over here to be sold from a riding school, which, unfortunately, was then closing down.

Tyri was 16.2hh, eight years old and had been schooled in dressage up to elementary level, but my first impression of him was that he was very quiet. He stood quietly to be tacked up but wasn’t fussy or particularly interested in people.

I rode him in the arena and he was quiet in there and was very laid-back when I took him for a hack. I liked him, but thought he might be a little too quiet for the trekking centre. People always assume I look for quiet horses, but I actually like something forward going and enthusiastic, and they then become more laid-back when they are working here.

Although I liked Tyri riding-wise, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, so I decided to take a gamble. I made an offer to his owners and then walked away.

A few weeks later I had a call from his owners. They hadn’t found the sort of home they wanted for Tyri, so they had done their research on me and the trekking centre, and decided to accept my offer.

They brought him over for me and were over the moon when they got here and saw the sort of home he was going to have and the life he would lead.

A different horse

And as for Tyri, well, he was over the moon too! The horse that came off the box was nothing like the one I had gone to see. His head was up, his eyes were out on stalks when he saw all the other horses and he clearly thought he had died and gone to heaven!

Quite quickly, I decided to fit him with new tack and I couldn’t believe the difference. He was a real attention seeker, wanting to snuggle with me and generally behaving like a big dog. In fact, my instructor Lucy Powell says he is the equine equivalent of a Labrador puppy!

I got straight on and took him out to show him Cannock Chase for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect because the horse I had gone to try hadn’t excited me when I hacked him out.
This version was quite different! Tyri was switched on, excited and happy to lead the way. He loved being with the other horses and was full of enthusiasm. Being out on the Chase was already working its magic!

When we turned him out with the herd we found he was the most playful boy ever! He costs me a fortune in ripped rugs, but I wouldn’t have the heart to take him away from his friends. He just loves to play!

In the stable Tyri is noisy and greedy. He soon lets us know when he has eaten all his hay!

Our Mr Versatile

After his arrival our priority was to hack him out as much as possible, because much of his previous life had been spent schooling and we wanted him to benefit from a change. However, as time has gone on he has become so versatile.

He now works beautifully in the school and he just loves our saddleless riding sessions, our Western lessons, polework clinics and – his special favourite – barrel racing! For a big horse, he is really agile and he gets very competitive! In his previous life he had done showjumping, but in the summer we introduced him to cross country and he loved that too.

Tyri is my Horse of the Week because he has become such a fabulous all-rounder. He has taken to everything we have thrown at him with real enthusiasm.

We are so excited to see how far he has come – and how far he will go. He loves his life here. He is one happy boy!

Princess – by Lucy Powell

It’s time for our regular Horse of the Week feature, and, as it’s my turn to choose, I have stolen the blog from my boss, Lisa.

As you all know, I am one of the two coaches here at the trekking centre, and I teach both children and adults several days a week.

My choice

You are all probably thinking I am going to choose one of the horses that work so well in the adult lessons and special training clinics. Well, you would be wrong, because my selection this week is our pretty little Highland mare, Princess.

I have worked at the centre for a long time now, and one task I have always enjoyed is keeping an eye out for horses or ponies that Lisa would be interested in, who would do a good job here. Princess is one of my finds.

And, of course, she turned out to be a ‘buy one, get one free’ discovery, because – unknown to us when we bought her – she was in foal. She duly gave birth to Wispa, and so had a very light start to her new life here work-wise.

When she returned to work after maternity leave, Princess proved to be a forward-going pony and we needed to put small adults and children who could already ride on her. She is fun, and I actually love riding her myself!

But when we first started her in the indoor school, she was quite reluctant when asked to work on her own, although she was fine in a group. One day, I was riding her and she simply refused to go near letter H! All the other letters were no problem, but H was a big deal! She was also apprehensive of equipment or poles stored in the corners, and, eventually, we began to think that perhaps we should sell her because we just weren’t using her enough.

Lisa is very fond of Princess and didn’t really want to part with her, but we went ahead and advertised her for sale. Well, Princess clearly read the advert because she really pulled her socks up! And, since then, she has become better and better. She is a proper little schoolmistress now.

Superstar schoolmistress

She is brilliant at teaching canter, because it is so easy to get her into her stride. We often use her as a lead pony with a member of staff riding her to encourage the other ponies in the school.

My fellow instructor Karen loves her too. She is Karen’s go-to pony for jumping lessons. It is amazing to see a pony who was wary of poles flying around a course of jumps without a care in the world.

She is really quick and is fantastic at pony club games, which she really enjoys. I think she would love Western riding too, and I am really keen to train her in this skill.

I am so relieved that we didn’t find that perfect home for Princess. We would never part with her now.

Connor – by Lisa Gregory

My new regular Horse of the Week feature is proving to be a popular one with my blog readers and my staff.

My yard team are enjoying the chance to pay tribute to any of our horses and ponies they consider to be doing an exceptional job – and it’s not that easy to choose, as we think they are all wonderful!

Karen’s choice

It’s now the turn of our BHS coach Karen Hudson to pick, and she has nominated our popular little chestnut Connor as her Horse of the Week.

Her choice also gets my vote as this fabulous Welsh Section D boy has a special place in my heart. I bought Connor when he was just six months old as a surprise 30th birthday gift for my sister. I presented him to her with a big bow round his neck, and she has loved him ever since.

I trained him for riding when he was four, and it was so easy as he took the whole process in his stride. Connor started his career as a trek leader with my sister in the saddle, and, although she doesn’t ride much any more, she is devoted to him.

He has never put a foot wrong – he is just perfect at any job he is given. He excels in lessons and in treks out on Cannock Chase.

And anyone who saw him in our ranch-party Western riding displays last summer would think he had been barrel racing all his life! Now over to Karen…

My Mr Reliable – by Karen Hudson

When I was asked for my nomination for Horse of the Week, one name popped straight into my head.

There was no doubt at all that it had to be Connor, the first horse I ever taught a pupil on after I started as a coach here at the trekking centre. Lisa’s horses were just getting used to working in the new indoor arena, and I took a complete beginner in there for a lesson on Connor. He never put a foot wrong.

From day one, he has been the most consistent horse I use for lessons. He is amazing for the children in group lessons, and in one-on-one coaching sessions he is fantastic, whether the rider is a child or an adult. Connor is always top of my list for lesson choices and the one I always turn to. He is excellent at teaching people to canter.

He had never done polework before, but, recently, he has really taken to it and is now popping little fences with genuine enjoyment.

I cannot say enough good things about Connor – he makes my job so pleasurable. I can put anyone on him, from a complete beginner to an advanced rider, and he will always look after them and give his best.

He gives his riders the confidence to try other horses. And if someone is having a bad day or finds their confidence a little shaky I always recommend they have a lesson on Connor. He will always behave himself and will always go beautifully.

Connor is my number one and my Mr Dependable. I absolutely adore him.

Summer – By Lisa Gregory

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy one, get one free!

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

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


A very special mare

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

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

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

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

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

Buttons – By Lisa Gregory

It’s time for our latest Horse of the Week nomination – and it’s the turn of our instructor Lucy Powell to name the horse who is impressing her most at the moment.

Lucy’s choice

Lucy’s pick is Buttons, our beautiful tri-coloured Standard Bred x Irish gelding.

Most of you know Buttons very well indeed. He is a wonderful, forward-going ride out on Cannock Chase and is a popular choice among my clients. And he is also a very reliable escort horse who is ridden by all my staff. Not only that, but he is the undisputed leader of the Cannock Chase Trekking Centre herd, and respected by all our other horses.

Buttons has even carried the Sheriff Of Lichfield on the annual traditional beating-the-bounds ride.

But it is not for his abilities out on the Chase that Lucy has chosen him as her Horse of the Week. It is because she rates Buttons as our most improved horse for his work in the indoor arena.

From baffled to arena superstar!

As you all know, trekking out on the Chase is our speciality, which will always be the case, but when I planned the redevelopment of the centre, I decided to build an indoor arena.

There are some excellent riding schools in Staffordshire, particularly Ingestre, which is not very far from here. I had no plans to try to compete with them – they are specialists in what they do – but I had many clients who were asking if they could possibly have lessons on their favourite trekking horses.

So we decided to give it a go, and it was clearly challenging for the horses. They were used to trekking on the Chase and were being asked to work in a way that they were not used to. Some took to it well, others were a bit baffled – and one of those was Buttons. On his first lesson in the arena he took his rider onto the centre line and planted himself there for 15 minutes! He was on strike!

Of course, we do not use whips or crops to get horses moving, so it was all a case of patient persuasion. Gradually, he began to realise that it was not so awful after all, especially if he was working with another horse.

Suddenly, it clicked with him, and he decided he loved the saddleless classes, where he was with a group of horses all having lots of fun.

The days when Buttons napped to the centre are long gone. He is forward going and relaxed, and has no problems working alone. He is great for teaching extensions, because he has such lovely long strides. He can be used for teaching all levels, from beginners learning to trot to more advanced riders working on their dressage.

Our polework clinics are where he really shines. He is like a cat through the most complicated grids, which involve lengthening and shortening strides. He never touches a pole. It is a great feeling for his rider and incredible to watch.


In the last couple of months, we have trained him for Western riding and he is now one of our go-to horses for Lucy’s Western classes. And when we staged our Western arena display for our Ranch Party Night, he turned out to be an ace at barrel racing too!

He is our most improved horse in the school, and both Karen and Lucy agree that he deserves this title.

We always knew he could do it – and now he knows it too. So step forward Buttons – our Horse of the Week!

Saffy – by Lisa Gregory

This is the second episode of my new regular blog feature – horse of the week.

As I explained in my earlier blog, I want to highlight one of my horses regularly who has shone through in their work in some way.

I and my staff will nominate our choices and, as I had first pick with our lovely Friesian gelding Oberon Foppe, this time I have asked my yard manager Sonia Aston to name her hero or heroine.

Sonia’s choice

It’s not exactly a surprise that she has chosen Saffy, who is often Sonia’s lead horse. We all know how much Sonia loves this honest and genuine mare, and the two of them have a wonderful, close relationship.

Sonia can always depend on this lovely Clydesdale x cob, but she says that, during the spring and summer, Saffy was called on for extra duties and really came up trumps.

Good old Auntie Saffy!

This has been an exciting time at the trekking centre as we have introduced five new horses to the delights of hacking out on Cannock Chase. I have trained our beautiful young Andalusian mare Nymeria and our homebred filly Indiana, who is the daughter of my Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane. Plus I have bought Oberon, who has done very little hacking out during his life so far, and Sonia has bought her own young horse Elka, a four-year-old Friesian x Dales. And now another of Zidane’s daughters, the four-year-old Montana, is ready to join them.

All of them have had to be introduced to the big wide world that is the Chase and Saffy has often been called on to act as baby sitter.

It is not just Sonia who has been impressed by Saffy’s calm, brave and bold attitude. Each time I have been riding the newbie, I have been so glad of Saffy’s solid and reassuring presence alongside me. If the new horse has spotted something that worries them, they have cuddled up to her for safety and reassurance, and she has allowed them to do that without a problem.

She spends all her time in the field grazing alongside her beloved Alfie and her best friend Nutmeg. She has now allowed her new friend Nymeria to join her little field gang. So well done, Auntie Saffy!

Next time, it is the turn of our instructor Lucy Powell to choose her horse of the week.