In our September instalment of "meet a One Club member" we meet Karen Slade as she introduces her herd and explains how 2020 has been full of exciting changes. It seems like an age ago when I agreed to write the ‘meet the One Club member’ blog for September, in fact, I think we were barely thinking about a global pandemic when I did.
I live in Somerset and when I applied for the blog, I owned a matching pair of Welsh Cobs, Maverick and Henry. Since then I have acquired two more horses……a ¾ welsh pony Morgan for my daughter who is a rescue pony through the charity Hoofbeats, and a perfect companion pony Foxy who has come to us on loan. Going from two to four horses in the space of six weeks was quite an experience to settle them in together and cope with the herd dynamics, it was interesting to watch them working the hierarchy! I need the help of my trusty spreadsheet to manage all their needs now as well as the One Club membership to make sure they’re all covered for Public Liability insurance, and offer me great deals on horse wear (young horses grow quickly and break stuff) to children’s riding clothes (my daughter will only wear the Harry Hall pull on soft cotton jodhpurs!).
My original steed (back in the calmer days of one horse ownership) is Maverick, a 14.1hh Welshie who is simply stunning. I have owned Mav for 11 years and we use to enjoy lots of affiliated and breed showing and jumping. Unfortunately, he suffered some degenerative issues and retired in 2017. Enter stage left Henry, a Welshie who was two when I got him. The boys lived at a local livery yard, with Mav feral and fat and Henry trying to adjust to a civilised society. Fast forward three years and by some miracle, Mav returned to light work in December 2019 and Henry is slowly accepting that his life involves more than eating and sleeping.
After dealing with Henry being diagnosed with gastric ulcers last year and Mav returning back in work but most definitely showing the signs of middle age at 16 the onset of Covid-19 prompted me to finally take the leap to move from the safety and comfort of livery yard life, where so many of my friends also keep their horses, to renting our own field. In May, with the world still going a bit mad around us, we embarked on this next adventure, which has been hard work and rewarding in equal measures. Thank heavens for a patient husband who owns a drill and possesses some fabulous DIY skills.
I added to my numbers with the two new additions, settled into a routine and started to put together my vision of a grass track / equicentral system for my little herd.
We now do of lots of hacking which is what was needed to build up an ageing returnee to work with some physical issues and to develop a young horse. We are fortunate enough to have a small indoor school across the road we can rent, which I use once a week for schooling and my daughter uses for lessons. I also box my youngster out for lessons fortnightly to a local trainer.
My must-have piece of kit is the Protechmasta leg wraps, I have a pair for each of the boys, Henry gets the full set for travelling to and from lessons to help his legs prepare and recover. Maverick benefits from a pair on his back legs after a long ride as he has suspensory issues. I am aiming to have the whole range (if I ever finish setting up my field with everything I need).
After three months in our ‘new home,’ I am enjoying riding with my daughter who has gained so much confidence from having her very own pony at last after years of sitting on mine. I have even gained a lovely sharer for Mav, they come three days a week which is awesome for him to have his own person and the peace of mind that he is ridden just enough to keep him ticking over. I love watching the herd interacting with each other and learning about their behaviours, they have settled into their own routine and seem to like exploring their new facilities.
What are my plans for the future? Simple, to enjoy my horses, to explore the Quantock hills on horse-back and to give my daughter the opportunity to experience all those magical moments as a young horse owner which will last her a lifetime, like taking her pony on fun rides, to the beach and jumping as high as she can even though she feels sick doing it! I also want to survive our first winter without mains electricity and water and hope the preparation work has been well thought out!
Wish us luck!