In The Saddle: How I started a life-long love affair

Anita Marsh on April with Vicky on Coco the pony.
Anita Marsh on April with Vicky on Coco the pony.

I started my love of ponies when I was first put on a donkey at the seaside - probably when I was two, and like lots of little girls, my love of horses began the moment I learned of their very existence.

My home has pictures of horses I’ve owned and loved over the years, and now as my five year old little girl begins the same journey as her mummy, I have photos of her and the various riding school ponies to add to the collection.

We have oil paintings of horses, painted horse shoes from my equine furry friends and a boot room which smells of lovely saddle soap and leather.

I am constantly wearing breeches and fleeces (the staple wardrobe of any self confessed horse mad woman) and my husband says he’s finally got used to the smell of Eau De April on me.

So you can imagine my delight when I was asked if my horse April and I would help give confidence to a girl and her new pony.

An opportunity to talk and ride horses, whilst helping spread the infectious love of equines to anyone I meet, you bet I was up for it.

Over the last few weekends, April and I have enjoyed taking Vicky and her first ever pony, Coco, on what’s known in the horsey world as a ‘hack’ around our village.

Although we can legally ride double breasted on the road, we find Coco takes his confidence by being tucked behind April’s bum and taking the lead from her.

April’s fast becoming a school master, that’s a horse which has been there, done it and worn the t-shirt and isn’t fazed by anything.

She’s fabulous on the roads and isn’t worried by the usual things which can scare others such as tractors, buses or lorries.

I’m sure Vicky has enjoyed her rides out, despite me being nearly three times her age - at heart I’m just that little girl on her pony too.

The one that can’t go past a field full of horses without admiring them and who, even now, is smiling like a giddy kipper as she writes about her latest horsey escapades.

What’s great is my passion for horses has hooked Chris Page, the content editor of this paper, into trying out my polo challenge too.

You may recall that last time round, I threw down the gauntlet - or should that be breeches? - to Chris seeing if he was prepared to swap his suit for a stint on horseback and join me for a game of polo.

I’m under the belief that even though I’m an experienced rider, Chris might just make the better polo player out of the two of us - and now he’s agreed to take on the challenge in the coming weeks.

I’m hoping The Vale of York Polo Club at Misson will be the venue for this encounter - so as all the best columnists say, watch this space!

I just hope he stays ‘in the saddle’ long enough to enjoy it or I might be writing my column for another paper!

In the meantime, wish us both luck in the sport of kings and if you ever feel you want to talk horses come and find me on Twitter and just send me a tweet or catch me on Facebook too.

I’m sure my family will be delighted at the break from all the horse talk!