I thought I’d share a little about me in this first proper blog.
Hi, my name’s Lucy, or ‘Miss Lucy’ as I’ve been known in previous jobs and now as a nail tech and educator, which is how I earn the pennies to keep my handsome man.
I was always pony mad as a child, I have many fond memories of playing with my model ponies with my best friend in the world Lizzie (she’s now an equine photographer and took the amazing pics of my BJ recently, so go check her out! Elizabeth Ebsworth Photography). The hours we’d spend making stables and fencing for them and saving every penny we could to buy more to add to the herd. We both had extremely hard working mothers supporting three children each and a pony of our own wasn’t in the budget. But I look back now and realise how hard my mother worked and saved to be able to send me to pony camp, and pay for regular lessons at the local riding school. It can’t have been easy and I’m not sure I ever really thanked her for it, so I’ll make sure to do that next time I see her. She went without so much so that her daughters could enjoy what they loved, and at the time, I never saw any struggle. So thank you Mum xoxo
Here’s me with the fabulous Gus (The BS is for Blue Sabre…the name of the riding school), he was my 3rd ride there, the first being a cantankerous old grey called blue eyes, it must be written somewhere that the first pony any child rides must be a bit of a bugger, to make sure they’re really serious about getting involved with these animals! I remember him as a grumpy old man, never happy and even rolled on me once, but it didn’t put me off, and after a while I was allowed on bigger and nicer horses, like Gus above, and the lovely William (who I can’t find any pictures of). William was a sweet chestnut gelding who took such care of me. I learnt a lot from all those riding school ponies, although I’m not sure I knew it at the time.
The Big Move and Joining the Troop
When I was at the end of year 8, so…13/14? I’m awful with school ages/years, but around then, my ma and I moved from Tiptree (Essex…where the jam comes from), to Ipswich, Suffolk. Not a million miles away, but enough. I started a new school and new life. Moving schools at that time isn’t ideal, everyone has their social groups and friends and I never really fit in, I always seemed to float between a few different groups and never really settled.
However the best thing about my entire time at school was meeting Marie. On my first day I went to my form room and the teacher had paired me up with this slight blonde girl who looked as timid as a mouse! I remember the first thing I noticed was a horse pendant on her necklace “oh, you like horses?”…and the rest was history. She was definitely my closest friend in school and she introduced me to her riding troop, a military inspired drill riding display team. We met every 2 weeks at Valley Farm in Wickham Market and rode their Camargue ponies practising drills and displays. What I also loved about the troop was the hour or two before riding when you learnt stable duties, grooming and care of the horses. You had to tack up and finish off any horse you rode. This is where my love for grooming took hold.
This is me riding Glace, he was a sweet and delicate little boy who was definitely my favourite, and so much FUN!
With the troop we got the chance to go away every 6 months to Janet’s in Windsor. She trains horses for films and re-enacting etc. and boy are they fun! One of my first rides there was Kurgan, yup, that’s right…you’ve seem him rearing on a mountain top in Highlander. Bless him he was well past those days when I rode him, all 19hh of him. We all liked to laugh how Mel Gibson rode the Friesian cross Madonna in the battle scene of Braveheart. I could name her horses in films such as Much Ado About Nothing and Legend, and the excitement when we watched Children of the New Forest and spotted our favourite mounts there too.
Janet’s was always such an awesome weekend, exhausting, but awesome! Riding these talented highly trained animals was a real pleasure. This is also where I met my first love. King.
Taken out of my scrap book so not the best picture. King was a Friesian x Thoroughbred…and just a bit crazy! The perfect horse for a teenager with no fear! I adored this horse an still dream of finding him again and making him mine. I’d miss lunch as I was too busy grooming and fussing him. Unfortunately he was only there a little while as his TB side would often take over when filming etc and he would run the other way rather than in to battle.
Tequila Sunrise (we renamed Tequila Slammer) was also a horse designed for a fearless teenager…she’d give a teeny little squeal, which meant you had about 3 seconds to hang on for dear life, then turn herself inside out with excitement. I learnt to stick to the saddle quite well with this one!
I later moved on to a steadier mount, like Big Lil in the pic at the top of this post. By no means a lazy dobin, but my love for the chunky monkies took hold here.
We were taught by Colin Trench, and ex cavalry man who didn’t mince his words and could be very tough but I learnt so much, he was such a huge influence on me and gave me so many basic skills that every horseman or woman should have, above all instilling in us that the horse always comes first, his needs must always be met before ours. You’re hungry, who cares, make sure your mount is fed, cared for and comfortable before seeing to your needs. A mentality that definitely helped with my career as a professional groom and beyond. However weary, wet, muddy and hungry I may be after a long day at a show or competition, my horse must always be seen to first.
Colin’s death was a massive blow to me, I still struggle to find the words now to express all he did for me. It was a phone call that came out of the blue and hit me like a ton of bricks. I hope he’s proud of what I achieved when I worked with horses, and I’m pretty sure he’d approve of Bojack, lets hope we can make him proud together in the coming years too 🙂
Late Teens and Early Twenties
There was a bit of a gap here…I flitted in and out of the horse world after school. The usual reasons, clubbing, boys, drinking. Best do it when your’re young and have the stamina I say!
I left school and pretty much fell into office and admin jobs, I worked for a while as a cashier for what was then Lloyds TSB. I developed RSI. A lovely issue to have when half the medical profession don’t believe it exists. I worked less and less and spent my days in pain down my entire right side. I tried to reduce my hours at work to part time, but that was denied, so figured I needed a drastic change. I quit my job and got an apprenticeship as a groom.
Becoming a Groom
My first job was at a riding school near my ma, so about 50 minute drive from my house in Ipswich. I’ll not talk much about that place, it wasn’t run particularly well, staff weren’t trained and supported properly, and I left on bad terms after I refused to teach unsupervised, untrained and uninsured.
My second yard was much better! A private livery yard where the owner competed in Dressage, I gained my L3 NVQ here and met the fabulous Krisstey, who is like my little sister and we’re still very close all these years later.
I’ve found some of the best friends through horses!
My early career with horses wasn’t much to talk of, mainly small private yards with one or two competition horses, but nothing major.
I did work for Jane Gregory very early on in my career, I was only there a short time, tattoos and bright blue hair isn’t really the look most dressage riders want from their grooms. But I learnt a lot from her and she was one of the very few fair bosses. I was very sad to hear of her passing a few years later. It was lovely to see Golly aka Dances with Wolves do so well with Carl Hester though as he had been one of her youngsters and personal fav. of mine.
I’ve been rambling a while now, so will say goodbye for the time being, I’ll go onto my switch from Dressage to Show Jumping, and my time in Europe and America in the next blog and get a little closer to where I am now.
Thanks for stopping by and reading!
See you next time