I love riding. I’ve been involved with horses all my life and finally managed to persuade (nag) my parents to buy me my first pony when I was 6 years old.The experience of riding a half tonne animal, with its own mind, and creating that human/equine bond is second to none. However, that’s not to say that the road to success is a smooth one!
Many horse riders just ride for fun, they like to hack out, pop a fence or two, ride on the beach, canter on the gallops etc and generally have a good time. However, there are those of us who ride to compete. I’m not saying we don’t enjoy riding the same but there is the aim of a prize at the end of the road and it does alter your mind set. You don’t just ride... you train. You sweat blood and cry many tears to try to be the best of the best.
There is one thing that is essential in order to make competing possible. The Wagon. Without this piece of equipment, you’re going nowhere. You’re a sitting duck.
Now, we all know that riding is an expensive hobby and generally we can’t all afford hundreds of thousands of pounds on a top of the range wagon with a private ‘groom’ section and a pop out side (*sigh*). Instead we make do with an older, cheaper model and we are extremely grateful for it! The only problem with the older, cheaper model is that it’s not always plain sailing (or driving in this case). New wagons take a lot of up keep, so older ones require M.O.T.S every week just to keep them on the road!
I don’t know about anyone else but we love our wagon, she is big, old and creaky, but she’s ours! We have a tendency to name our wagons too, not sure if anyone else does this but when you're pleading with her to start in the morning you really need a name to use (sometimes it’s less polite than others) but we generally name her ‘Vera the Volvo’. I'll always remember one trip in particular. ‘Our Vera’ had a ride out one Saturday and we moved her creaky tyres to set off down to Leek in Staffordshire. We had planned on riding a few dressage tests to try and gain some regional points and Petplan sheets. So off we went two horses, four adults and a dog on the M6 southbound on a two and a half hour journey.
Now, I’m what is known as a ‘silent panicker’. Being a veterinary nurse means that you must stay focused, controlled and quiet when emergencies strike. Hence, ‘silently panic’ and sort the situation out! Well approximately an hour into the journey I tottered to the back of the wagon, staggering like a drunk person to do my half hour check on our precious cargo. It’s safe to say I did not stay silent when I observed what was happening. If I am thankful for anything, it’s that my husband (Martyn) is 6 ft 4 “ tall and built like a .... house because Mea (our veteran, Irish Sports Horse) had snapped the partition that was attempting to hold her up and was almost led down on the floor! I would not wish anyone to be in that situation. Whilst watching the partition ‘wafting in the breeze’ I screamed for help and we pulled off at a service station (god bless service stations) to sort Mea out and assess the damage. After ALOT of duck tape (god bless duck tape), a lunge rope and both myself and Martyn propping up the partition we managed a quick u-turn and an hour drive back to the yard safely. I’m pretty sure Martyn did not sign up to be almost crushed by a half ton horse when he met me.
Unfortunately it’s not the first time that anything like this has ever happened. We are actually very experienced when it comes to dealing with these types of situations as you’ll find out in this blog, but what else is a rider to do other than to deal with it and carry on? Otherwise we’d be stuck doing nothing and going nowhere!