Yesterday morning I woke up to lovely news; my old pony Holly had been moved back to the field I kept her at for years while I was growing up back home in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
To me, Holly is what is known as a ‘’horse of a lifetime’’. Anyone who rides and has been fortunate enough to have their very own horse (or pony) will know that phrase. I was so lucky to have two ‘’lifetime’’ steeds. Holly was my first. She is a love of my life.
We bought Holly from Penygraig, in the Rhondda Valley on April 15th 1998. This year marks the 21st year since that day that changed my life forever! I was 12 and she was (meant to be) 8 years old. Looking back she was more like 5, she was slight, ginger and gangly but had already whipped up a storm competing in show jumping locally in the Valleys (and beyond).
The advert for Holly read something like this ‘’Hollywood Girl; 13.2hh Chestnut Mare, 8 years old, will jump the moon with the right jockey’’. At 12 years old I guess I didn’t know much about ‘’life’’. But hey, you only need to know what you love at that age and I sure knew about the most important thing to me; horses were everything and I wanted to be a show jumper.
All I cared about was horses and ponies – absolutely anything I could do to be on/ near a horse I would. Or talking about them, or watching movies, or reading books. Horses were my ultimate!
I have always had an obsessive personality, with a drive to get what I want and they were most definitely my first major focus. Horses were a love that has (and never will) leave me.
We bought Holly and I can hand-on-heart say; I have spent many of the best hours, days, weeks, years of my life on her back. I would reverse to being 12 and do it all over again in a heartbeat.
If you ride, or have a strong love for a particular animal that you have a true bond with, you will know how I feel about Holly.
I could write about her all day (and one day I will write more about our escapades); she is such a little minx, we have so many stories together! Our bond was like no other – she used to get on her knees and crawl under electric fences if I asked her to … I would ask her to do this so we could get into farmer’s fields and gallop around while nobody was watching, ha ha!
I mention Holly because yesterday it made my heart sing to see her cute little face being all fluffy and happy back in her old stomping ground …
And today I was so lucky to get back in the saddle half a world away; right here in Cairns, Australia. A few weeks ago I posted a ‘’wanted’’ ad on a local Facebook page in hope of finding someone I could help with their horses. Fingers crossed I could get to ride too – anything would be something. Since leaving Sydney it felt like Cairns would be a place where I could get back into my passion somehow.
Very luckily for me; a lovely lady called Deb, who lives literally 5 mins from my place got in touch. She has 3 Andalusian’s (a rare Spanish breed) that are kept about 30 mins out of Cairns. We went out together to see them a few weeks ago but didn’t ride that first time.
Today was the day! Deb does not usually name her horses but today we settled on calling the bay Fernando. This means ‘’adventurous’’ and ‘’bold journey’’ in Spanish. Deb named him that before I looked up what it meant. I thought it was quite fitting for the big adventure I was living right now in my moving up to Cairns. The big grey had previously been called ‘Big Red’ but it had not stuck. Well from today that’s his official name too.
Fernando hadn’t been ridden for some time and Big Red had been broken then turned away. Getting on the bay today I was cautious at first, as you never know how a horse who has been out to grass is going to be; he could easily get the wind under his sails and be gone!
Any worry dispersed after a few minutes of being on his back, he was good as gold and his paces are so fluid. That’s the Spanish in him! I look forward to putting some work into him, I feel like we can be a good little team (and I need to check this with Deb but maybe we can try jumping at some point). He felt like he could have a bit of go in him!
Big Red is a big baby! At first I only lay across his back so as not to scare him. As soon as I sat on him he was good too. He was certainly a little ‘’what’s going on up there?!’’ but he was steady and responsive. We only walked him but that felt like a huge achievement.
I wanted to share today to simply show my appreciation for horses. If you have never ridden I urge you to try it at least once in your lifetime.
If you do ride, please get out and get riding as often as you possibly can! It’s one of those things that when you don’t have easy access to it you really realise how lucky you were back in the day.
All my years of living in London and then being away (over 11 years in total now!), I can count the number of times I have ridden on two hands. It used to be my main focus in life, for years I show jumped around the UK and spent all my time and money on my horses … to then lose touch with it for so long; I feel super grateful to have been able to go and help Deb. Not riding has definitely been a missing part of my puzzle of life. No amount of Bondi, travel, friends or boys can ever fill that gap.
It’s going to be an interesting journey seeing how much time we can put into Fernando and Big Red. Hopefully Deb and I can work out a little routine that suits us both, we will see. I look forward to seeing the horses get fitter, stronger and more confident as we go.
Horses are amazing beasts, one of the best phrases William Shakespeare ever wrote was Act-V, Scene-IV of Richard III when King Richard III yells loudly ‘’A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!’. 💫
All my years of being away from Holly I send money home for her every month and I will do this until the day she goes. She is my ‘’my kingdom for a horse’’moment, I’d walk over hot coals to ensure she was looked after.
After everything she has done for me over the years I feel I owe it to her to make sure she is happy. And in the capable, loving care of my friend Emily and her cute family I know she is indeed happy (and spoiled!) 💓
Here’s to horses, the most majestic animals on the planet ✨
Thank you for reading, have a great day 🦄