Just to let you know…

SORRY IT’S SUCH AN ESSAY! (Procrastination)

I’ve just read Melissa Harvey’s blog and realised that a) I haven’t blogged in a while and b) I never really introcued myself! How rude of me! So I thought as Oscar’s managed to get himself out of being ridden for a few days dues to his acrobatics, I’d write a blog about myself today :)

Sooo.. My name’s Maddi Naish (but you have to say it ‘nash’- God knows why!). I live in a small market town in Oxfordshire, in quite a rural area. A 10 minute drive takes us up to the ridgeway for some great views and dog walking! And great sledging! =D 

I’m 17. Anyone familiar with the current edumacation system will know that puts me in sixth form. I’m in year 13, that last year! So I’ve only got a few months left of school! I’m studying Biology, Geography and English Language. They’re going alright. fingers crossed. When I’ve finished school I want to go to uni, and do Rural Enterprise and Land Management, at either Harper Adams University College in Shropshire (my first choice) or the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. You can see the course details here: http://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/undergraduate/36/realm/rural-enterprise-and-land-management

I’m going to be honest, this whole uni thing is pretty scary! I’ve never had that many friends and so I never really go out, so uni life will be a bit different! I’m really looking forward to it though!

I have a dog and a cat, Bramble and Pusskins :) Bramble is an English Springer Spaniel, who LOVES walks, food, shooting and Pusskins :) I do a bit of agility with him for fun, which he enjoys up to a point but you have to bribe him! We also take him shooting. Up until last season we were beating on a small, friendly syndicate shoot at Shillingford bridge,  However, the *ahem* middle-aged widow who owned the farm decided that she’d had enough and wanted to move to a bit more civilisation. This is great for her, but unfortuatly the farm was so to Earth Trust and they didn’t want us to shoot on it any more :( So we’re looking for some more shooting. But we’re very picking with out shooting! We don’t like big commercial shoots for a number of reasons. I have nothing against them, but wouldn’t want to beat on one as there tends to be a bit more of us-and-them between beaters and guns, they shoot a LOT of birds, and Bramble isn’t the best behaved gundog and may not be tolerated… Think we may have found somewhere that our old gamekeeper shoots on so fingers crossed…..

Now to the bit you guys really care about… HORSES!!!

I started riding when I was five. However, the riding school wasn’t very good. It didn’t have many ponies. and was run by a drunk! So after coming off a few times and having my confidence turned to dust, I stopped. But as you all know, you can quit riding but you can’t quit being a rider! I started riding again when I became friends with a girl who rode. This was about 3 years ago. First for a few months at a MASSIVE riding school. But winter is the worst time to start riding, especailly when your parents aren’t into horses and don’t like standing in the cold to watch you! We also didn’t like how they only let you ride and didn’t encourage you to lead your horse to it’s stable, untack it etc and it was a bit on a conveyor belt you rode, got off, handed over your money, and left. Repeat with the next person. So after a winter off I started again at another riding school! On my first proper lesson, they put me on a 16hh cob and taught me to canter! This was a massive step for me because I had this fear of cantering. It stemmed from when I was five and the drunk woman tried to teach me to canter, the horse bucked, the saddle slipped and I got dragged round the school! Not a good first experience. So I learnt to canter, my confidence grew and I enrolled on the helper scheme. This meant I could work at the yard after school and at weekends, and earn points which I put towards lessons. I learnt a lot about horse care this way and my confidence blossomed. 

At the riding stable I also had a horse on loan- Jake. Jake was a 15.2hh piebald cob, very hairy! He was used in most lessons, but could be a bit cheeky! If he was having one of his bad days he could be very lazy, to the point when you asked him to canter he bucked instead. But I think this was more to do with being bored of being in a riding school than anything else! But this loan scheme was quite expesive for what you got, and someone else loaned him aswell, which I didn’t think was right. So he’d be taken for a 3hr hack, then I didn’t want to do too much on him because he would be tired. But that horse improved my riding so much and taught me to jump. Unfortunatly he has been off work a lot recently because he had sarcoid surgery, and he’s being overused in the riding school because he’s such a good boy :(

I really wanted a pony of my own but mum said no. we didn’t have time. And to be honest, she was right. As much as I wouldn’t mind getting up to do a pony, when you’re dependant on your parents it’s a family commitment if you need driving to the yard. Mum said if we had a field at our house to keep one in then she would say yes. But I also didn’t know enough about horses to have one then, and neither did mum. Her sister had a horse when she was my age, but it was horrible and completely put her off horses.

I found a new loan- Ellie. Ellie was a bit of everything. Her owners were told she was a Cleveland Bay cross but she doesn’t look anything like one. She was 22, true bay. She was so soppy, never bucked or reared in her life and a bit of a plod. Loaning Ellie didn’t improve my riding but she taught me to hack. I had never really hacked before I had her and was quite nervous about it, but we used to go galloping across fields and hacking for miles around. The only thing she was scared of was tractors! I stopped helping at the riding school when I had Ellie because I didn’t need the lessons any more, and some of the paid stable hands treated the helpers like crap, which I didn’t need either :/ You can see some video’s of me riding Ellie on my YouTube channel, sailormads.

But Ellie wasn’t getting any younger and I was starting to get frustrated that all my friends at the yard were going off to pony camp and eventing etc and I was left at the yard hacking out, or trying to school an outline into a horse that was never going to do it. I’m not saying I want to event, but I wanted to improve my riding and learn more. When I’m older I’d like to have a horse of my own but I needed to be a better rider first. So after an amazing year and a half, I started looking again.

I found Oscar through facebook, He was advertised for sale and I commented saying how lovely he was, but unfortunatly I wasn’t looking for a horse to buy. When no-one wanted to buy him, and he’d had a bad experience on loan (at the riding school I loaned jake from) his owner contacted me and asked if I wanted to ride him on a loan/share basis. I was a little apprehensive at first to go from 14.2 plod to 16.2 ex-racer, but I thought there’s no harm in trying. A big issue was leaving my best friend at the previous yard, Sheryl. But a month or so after I started loaning Oscar a letter was sent to all the people at the previous yard saying the owners had applied for planning permission to knock it down and build a house on it, and there was only space for liveries. So Sheryl moved her horses to Oscar’s yard! When she told me I was shopping with mum, but I’d been a bit down all day because Oscar had put his pelvis out and we were having a few teething issues, and school was really stressing me out. But when Sheryl texted me to say that  in a month Sovreign and Wilmaar would be joining me, I was SOOO happy! It made my month, and I was so happy for the whole time :) I hadn’t realised how much I had missed her, because I didn’t see her at school much, she’s 2 years younger than me.

Anyway, now I’ve been riding Oscar since September. We’ve done lots of hacking, schooling, had lessons. My riding has improved more than I thought possible, but I’ve realised how much further there is to go! False summit or what!?! Hopefully Oscar and I can continue our partnership and keep improving eachother until I (fingers crossed) go to uni next September! Although so far he’s pulled shoes twice, put his pelvis out twice, and had the vet and blood tests because he wasn’t drinking! We never did find the cause of that, but he’s drinking again now so that’s all that matters!

I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures together, and maybe some shows and competitions in the new year!

Kick on and keep riding.

Maddi xx

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