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








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.