As a child, I was brought up on a working farm in Cwmbran, South Wales. I used to spend my days pulling up docks in the fields, creosoting the fences, whitewashing the stables and washing out the water tanks in order to have a pony.
Smokey Joe was my first pony at the age of eight, he was an old Welsh Mountain pony, he knew all the tricks that ponies learnt with age. My mother taught me to ride bareback on the lunge and I fell off most days but always got back on. I soon learnt how to stay on and eventually, I got the better of him.
Outgrowing Smokey Joe, I was given the opportunity to ride a super little pony called Super Steed. He was “all that”, I won so many jumping classes with him, I developed a hunger that I had never experienced before.
I then outgrew Steed and was given the ride on Lucy Locket. She was an awesome ex JA mare, anything you pointed her at was jumped. You could never let Lucy have her head, she used to bounce on the spot and had her own stride to every jump. I was just a passenger! This pony taught me how to turn in mid-air, jump offs were our speciality and against the clock it was electrifying.
I obtained many other rides in my early teenage days and learnt a little from each one. Every horse was different in size, nature, ability and scope. I very quickly learnt how to achieve the very best from that individual in whatever discipline.
I was about twelve when the late Mr & Mrs Jones took me under their wings. They gave me the opportunity to bring on their two young Thoroughbreds, Mary Tudor & Helen Tudor. We went show jumping all year round, eventually working our way up the ranks from British Novice through Newcomers and Fox Hunters and completing a few Open B & C classes. Both mares were phenomenal. I cannot express in words my gratitude and appreciation that John and Doreen deserve.
At the age of eighteen, I headed off to West Oxfordshire carrying on my education in land management and business studies in the Thoroughbred world. During this time many doors opened, I achieved a great deal of experience in the blood stock world, working closely with an Italian bloodstock agent in Italy and working at the prestigious Houton Sales in Newmarket three years in a row.
Working in Lambourn “The home of the Race Horse” opened my eyes into a whole new meaning of horses. The breeding, the training, the feeding to achieve an equine athlete, consumed my life. My first job was in a flat racing yard and later in a National Hunt yard, the adrenaline schooling over proper fences at speed was amazing.
In 1997 a vacancy at a National Hunt Trainer in Gloucestershire opened a new chapter in my life with the availability of stables and land located nearby. Confidently starting training and competing, point to pointers as a hobby. It was a few years before the hobby required further commitment as more horses were taken on! Before I could blink ten years had gone by. Many placings, a few winners including first time out maidens, a few National Hunt rides and two third placings in the Ladies Point to Point Championships were achieved. Plus a few very nice horses trained which successfully furthered their careers under rules.
After what felt like an eternity of National Hunt, it was time for me to settle down and start a family. Many will understand being a mother is a commitment without boundaries and as an unselfish act, it was necessary to free my life of horses and concentrate on my two girls, Jasmin and Millicent.
2002 was my last point to point ride and the end of my life as a jockey. A very nice educated début run finishing 5th, the horse won first time out the following season.
My last owned amazing horse, purchasing him at six months old was Aarons Run aka Billy. He was educated and ran in a few bumpers, he then took the point to point field by storm, winning every race, achieving the Novice area Point to Point Championship in his first season. He showed such ability he went under rules, his first run at Chepstow ended in disaster as he led to the finish by a distance, “over jumping” the last but one fence, slipping on landing. He snapped and fractured his Dorsal Spinous Process’s (DSP’S) and later was put to sleep due to colic. A very emotional and heart-wrenching time in my life……
As my two children Jasmin and Millicent started school in 2007 I started working at Three Counties Equine Hospital LLP who have been my vets for over twenty years to date. This has been the most enjoyable and rewarding place of work. Not one day is ever the same and I am proud to be part of a dedicated team moving forward in the Veterinary world, full of new and exciting technology to aid the equine industry.
With no horses in my life during my “brood mare” days, I can honestly say it must be a disease in the blood! It wasn’t long before I longed for some kind of “equine interest” and a challenge but not in the racing world. I will say, having my children did change my attitude and ability to be as ambitious as previously experienced! Many will understand but I am not afraid to admit I don’t want to leave my children without a mother due to my own stupidity.
This is where my own mother comes into play. She always had a passion for Appaloosas, as a child I remember her showing me a gorgeous picture of a spotted stallion called Klause. I remember saying I would like to have a pretty horse like that one day!!!!!
That “one day” came, off to France to import Peyres Catori Cat in 2008 and off to Austria to collect and import Princesse Pascale in 2009. Both trips completed on 14th February, a very nice present from my better half to keep me sane…….AND HERE WE ARE!