Today I thought I’d tell you about my working journey so far, might not be too interesting, but here goes.
I started my first job at the age of 13 with a paper round. I stuck at it and eventually when I was 15 I also worked in the shop on a Saturday! I enjoyed this job, they were very nice people. Sadly the shop I worked doesn’t exist anymore.
I’ve never had my own horse as they are very expensive to keep. I choose to go to college instead of a pony as a child and now I have a child. Horses are very time consuming and potentially very expensive, especially if things go wrong.
I have, however, been lucky enough to have been around horses for most of my life. I started riding when I was 7 years old. I was due to have my first lesson on my 7th birthday, but sadly had chicken pox, so I had to wait a few weeks! I believe my first ever ride was on a donkey, or that’s the first one I remember anyway!
I grew up in Portsmouth near Fratton park, which isn’t renowned for it’s huge amount of horses!! I started riding at Westcroft Riding school, on Hayling Island, which has changed hands many times since then and is now a livery yard I believe.
After Westcroft, I started at Fort Widley Equestrian Centre (http://www.peterashleyactivitycentres.co.uk/Widley.htm).
I rode here and helped here as much as I could until I turned 16, when as mentioned in an earlier post, I went to Sparsholt College (http://www.sparsholt.ac.uk/) where I did a 2 year National Diploma in horse management. This was great fun, and this is where I was introduced to Dryad Naval Riding Centre (which is sadly closed down now).
After college I got a job here as a working pupil. It was very, very hard work, but worth it all. I managed to work through the BHS exams to BHSAI (British Horse Society Assistant Instructor) (https://www.bhs.org.uk/). I worked there for just under 5 years before moving on to try a ‘normal’ job in an office.
Big mistake, I worked in a ‘customer service centre’ (call centre, but we weren’t allowed to call it that) for about 5 years. I helped a friend with some horses in my spare time to get my horse fix, but I was so miserable. I hated working indoors. I was so depressed and just wanted to get out.
I moved on to a night job for a year working at the Naval Base in Portsmouth for a civilian company who were contracted to look after and provide accommodation on the base for Navy/Army personnel. It was much better than the office job as I worked in a portacabin and could walk around the accommodation blocks whenever I liked. Still wasn’t for me though.
My husband and I got married in 2002 and we’d been looking at options, where to live etc…. we decided that we both wanted an outdoor life and looked at emigrating to Canada or New Zealand. New Zealand proved to be far too expensive, so we chose Canada. We started the process but halfway through decided it might be better to find our feet and stay in the UK.
After I left the night job on the Naval base, we decided to try for a baby. We’d been married for just over 3 years. I had our son, Alex, in May 2006 and didn’t go back to work again until he was over a year old, and even then it was only for 1 day at the weekend.
We managed to move from Portsmouth to Farnborough just after I had Alex (was meant to be before, but that’s another story). In 2007 I decided to go back to teaching and found a local riding school who I worked for on a Sunday teaching their clients.
I worked for the owner for just under 3 years, when in 2010 I decided and had the opportunity to go self-employed. I still only work part time, but it fits in nicely around my parenting job! My son is 5yrs old now and is at school, so I try to work whilst he’s out at school.
I work at GBB Horse Care in Farnham (http://gbbhorsecare.co.uk/) on a Saturday and usually go down on a Thursday whilst Alex is at school. It’s owned and run by my good friend Jules. She’s based in Farnham at Old Park Stables and is very good at what she does.
This is Greyson and Billy. Greyson is Jules’ own horse and has had many problems, he’s only 8 and very lucky to be owned by someone so patient and kind. He came over from Ireland as a 3yr old through a dealer and ended up on a riding school. He developed problems from bucking, spooking and eventually, head shaking. Jules has been so patient, tried everything, but at the moment, he can only work properly in the winter. He’s happy in the field and is not in pain, but as soon as he’s starts to work or gets stressed, he starts to head shake. There are a few environmental factors that trigger it too, such as sunlight, sun after rain, pollen, but as with most head shakers, it’s very difficult to pin point exactly what sets it off. He is a credit to her patience and hard work.
As well as working at GBB, I also work a couple of horses for their owners at a DIY livery yard in Bordon, Hampshire. These include Orla, Milly and Guiness (when his owner goes away).
This is Orla, a lovely mare. She’s an Irish sportshorse who competes at riding club level with her owner. Her owner is a teacher, and so I go up once a week to long line Orla, just to keep her supple. She’s a real character and I’m very fond of her. She loves fuss and pears!
This is Guiness, a lovely little Irish cob gelding. I think he’s about 14, can’t remember exactly though. I take him out for a hack when his owner goes away. We always have lots of fun and he’s very well behaved. Can be a bit wussy sometimes though…..
This handsome devil is Ben, he lives at GBB Horse care with Greyson and Billy (above). He is an Irish Sportshorse. He’s very sweet, but has had troubles with his back, hocks and feet. Hopefully though, he’s back on track and his owner can get on with some fun stuff again!
This is just a brief history, there were some interim bits that I haven’t mentioned, like temp jobs and such, but it has taught me that I NEED to work outdoors with horses. Once Alex is a bit older I’ll be able to do more and maybe one day, I’ll have a yard of my own. Until then though, I consider myself very lucky to have such supportive friends and a wonderful husband, that I am able to keep working with these wonderful animals.
If anyone reading this fancies a career in horses, it’s hard work, very hard work, but what you put in, you get back out. The money is rubbish, but the benefits make it all worth while. Do your research and be prepared for very long hours!
Thanks for reading.