Coming from a horsey family I have owned and ridden ponies and horses from an early age. I learnt to ride on my older sisters pony, and got my first pony, Scooby Doo, when I was 6.
Left: My second pony Robbie. I remember the day mum and me bought him at Beeston market. (I don’t care to remember how many years ago that was, but it was back when riding hats had a piece of elastic for a chin strap!)
I competed in all disciplines throughout my childhood, then trained through the BHS exam system, becoming an AI. I taught riding and schooled horses both in a riding school, and freelance.
Left: My third pony Snowy and me competing on our local riding club show jumping team.
I'm still a keen rider and competitor. I’m interested in classical dressage and have competed in affiliated competitions to medium level. I hope to progress with Trigger to advanced levels. I believe that dressage training should develop the horses well being, and that dressage success does not require physically or mentally harmful training methods.
Left: Trigger, my horse of a lifetime. He is mine by lucky chance having been diverted from the French meat trade as a 3 year old.
I became involved in natural hoof care in 2002. David and I were buying, backing and selling young horses. We were impressed with how sound and capable those horses were barefoot. I began researching trimming methods, being particularly impressed with the work of American trimmer and educator Pete Ramey, and decided to trim our horses myself. I started being asked to trim for friends and clients I taught riding to, and was soon trimming part time. I decided that I wanted to trim full time. Feeling that people expect qualifications I completed the UKNHCP course in 2008. We now care for the hooves of around 200 horses and ponies.
My involvement with horses began when I was 16 and began working in the flat racing industry. I worked in racing for 17 years. For the first 3 years I held an apprentice jockey licence and rode in about 50 races. After that I was a work rider, exercising race horses daily, and traveling horses to the races. Although of course I now disagree with the lifestyle of racehorses (and all traditionally kept horses) I have very fond memories of that period of my life and the wonderful horses I worked with.
Top left: Riding Mavis (her pet name, I can’t remember her racing name) on the gallops. Bottom left: Riding Peter Martin at Doncaster races.
Next I ran a horse transport business and in partnership with Julie, backed, schooled and sold horses. I shared Julies’ fascination with natural hoof care, and joined her hoof trimming business. In order to have a qualification I am currently studying the Equine Sciences Academy Degree and Hoof Care Certificate.
Left: Riding April (the grey), a horse that I had backed, at Somerford park.
Today we juggle riding and competing with work and study. Hoof care is a constantly evolving field. Veterinary researchers, trimmers and farriers are continually adding to our understanding of hoof form and function, and this is leading to improved ways of caring for our horses and their hooves. We believe it is important to keep up with new thinking and enjoy reading and researching books and the internet, attending lectures and taking courses on hoof care and wider aspects of horse care and training, both online and in the real world.