50 years of learning and still a way to go…
The early years
I started on 13hh New Forest ponies. They were mainly willing and some could jump. I particularly remember Chubby Checker and using him at local shows. A class called “Chase Me Charlie” involved jumping two jumps that gradually became higher. You were eliminated when you dislodged a pole. That pony had little scope but the fences were never spreads and he always arrived in the correct place for a good takeoff. We were always placed, and even though fences increased to something shy of 4 foot, we sometimes won.
Hastings, UK early 1970s, me aboard Chubby Checker at Fairview horse show. We all had long hair in those days.
Samson was another pony of memory. He stood 14hh and looked to have some Highland blood in him. To start with he could be very nappy and put little effort into anything. Once sorted, he became a consistent jumper of small fences. I hacked him for miles on local lanes and a favourite being through the local woods.
Hacking and independence
I hacked to shows within in a radius of about 8 miles and had independence. I developed resourcefulness and had fun. Would any child be given this freedom today? I think not!
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Horsing around in the classroom
On leaving the local Secondary Modern School I sought a way to ride without being in the horse industry. On reflection this decision wasn’t the best, but what do you know of life at that age. Nevertheless, at 22 years I arrived as a fresh-faced teacher of maths in a distant county.
Teaching in the 1980s offered fewer challenges and more time to pursue hobbies. Teachers brought personality and freshness to their classes rather than exhaustion and political correctness.
How did I afford horses at a young age?
As a young adult, my horses were borrowed, frequently quirky and never easy rides. My first good horse turned up when I borrowed a naughty horse off a local farmer. Andanti, was by a Premium Thoroughbred stallion out of a Welsh Cob Thoroughbred cross. Handy Andy settled, and then I realised the truth, ”good horses make good riders”. Handy Andy was a good horse. We rounded up cattle on the marshes, hunted, show jumped and excelled in hunter trials. 40 years later, I am still enjoying horses, although these days early morning hacking has replaced more challenging pursuits.
Still going strong and riding daily
After more than half a century in the saddle, I wish to share my experiences with anyone interested. Are you interested?
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