In The Saddle: Looking back through the years

Anita Marsh
Anita Marsh
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I’ve been having a nosey through old photos recently, as I can’t ride my mare due to a knee injury I have.

So, to keep my addiction to horses firmly in the frame I dug out an old album from when I first got my five year old mare.

It’s funny over the years you completely forget what you’ve done together and achieved. I’m not the world’s best rider and I’ll certainly never make the Olympics but I think I’ve learned a lot on this mare of mine.

I think the horses which test you the most, teach you the most in my mind.

I found April, my mare, on Horse Mart. No, let’s rephrase that. My friend’s husband found April on Horse Mart. (that’s a kind of horse exchange for horses and ponies which are up for sale) and promptly showed her to me.

I was looking for a mature school master (something around the age of 12 years old that had been there and done it all), gelding (male horse) and coloured. Nothing with any thoroughbred breeding in it. At all.

I’m not the world’s best rider and I’ll certainly never make the Olympics but I think I’ve learned a lot on this mare of mine

Anita Marsh

What did we end up buying? Well, the moment I met April I fell in love with her. She was a five year old, coloured mare. Not very experienced and required a lot more schooling to bring on her education. Did I buy her? Of course I did. Were we mismatched? Very probably.

April’s history was very interesting. She had come from a husband and wife team, bought for the wife but for the husband to do his more ‘unconventional’ riding and training on. So, she was classically trained and had done a bit of jumping at home and showing in the ring when she was a three year old, but it was the jousting which was the interesting part of her training.

Going to try her in a ‘trick’ saddle was interesting. April was used to being desensitised with her owner, Ken, standing on her back with flags using the trick saddle or training at home with her brother (and the other team-of-two jousting horses) which they owned. Would she be good in traffic? We thought so, but April really was still quite a ‘green’ horse and had a lot to learn.

I remember one day at home after I bought her there was some kind of scarecrow competition all around the village. There were scarecrows having tea in tents, climbing up the side of houses and generally standing in the front gardens of houses. That week I didn’t see one person hacking round the village, but April - well she really wasn’t fussed and took it all in her stride.

Looking over the time I’ve owned her we’ve had some real fun together. We’ve done hunter trials, show jumping, dressage and showing...a bit of everything really. I love hacking her out knowing how bomb proof and steady she is. She’s lead out young horses and nervous riders too. She’s a little star.

It hadn’t always been like this. It’s taken us time to get to know each other.

I’d be a liar if I said April hadn’t tested me along the way. She really has tested my willpower, my knowledge and my patience on some days. But all in all, she’s a pretty good little horse - and one who is ten years old on the 1st

April this year - she’s actually become the school master I wanted in the first place.