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Tell us a little about you

Nikki with her beloved ex-racehorse Jake
I’m a Geography teacher and mum of 2 young boys! Jakeini (aka Jake) is an ex racehorse that I bought 10 years ago! He was 7 at the time and not long out of racing in Ireland where he was raced from the age of 2, I have no idea how he came out of that unscathed though with being so young!  He was the first horse I’d owned and even rode properly after a 10 year break away from horses.  When my last pony died, I was going off to uni followed by some travelling, so I had lost interest really. Roll on 10 years though and my husband had just started a job offshore, so I needed a hobby to keep me busy while he was away!  That’s when Jake was purchased! Pearl is my other little pony that I just got a few months ago from the World Horse Welfare.  She was mainly as a companion for Jake but she’s a very sweet wee pony and very chilled for only being 3, so she might make a good lead rein for my boys next year.

 

How did your horses come into your life?

My mum has owned horses all her life and so my sister and I were introduced at a very young age! I was basically born into it.

How long have you been riding?

Well over 30 years I reckon!

When and where do you ride?

“I try to ride most days”
Since I had my first son 7 years ago, my riding routine has changed a lot! I’m incredibly lucky that Jake is just the same horse whether he’s been ridden every day or not been sat on for months, which is just as well because time is often limited.  When my husband is home, I do try to ride most days but when he works away then it’s only twice a week when my kids are in childcare.  We live in Perthshire and I’m so lucky to livery on a farm with plenty of grass tracks which is just as well with Jake being barefoot and hacking being our favourite thing to do.  I avoid any flatwork like the plague!

 

How did you start riding?

It was only when I was 14 that I had my first proper competitive pony that I started jumping with.  She was a 19-year-old ‘been there, done that’ Connie/tb that absolutely loved to jump; I just had to point her at the fence, and she would do the rest! She taught me everything.  

 

   

What you and your horse currently working on?

Nikki and Jake were doing really well eventing pre-lockdown
Before Covid-19 we were doing so well in Eventing.  I was regularly having lessons and Jake was jumping the best he’d jumped in a long time.  We had finished the Eventing season on a high with our first clear within the time in BE90 and was preparing for a winter of British Show jumping.  Unfortunately when Covid struck and schools were closed it put a stop to everything including our riding; my husband was working away and now I had the kids all the time and so Jake couldn’t be ridden for weeks at a time.  This affected my motivation and I’ve been struggling to get back to thing since.  I’m hoping that when schools go back, I’ll be able to get back into a good routine again.

 

What do you love about riding?

I love being with my horse.  He really is my 3rd child that just makes me so happy when I’m around him.  He is so sweet natured and reliable!  I love just hacking out in beautiful countryside and taking in all the sights and sounds of nature.  I do love competing too and although nerves do get the better of me at times, I love the post competition buzz and the atmosphere of a big show.  I’ve also made some of my best friends through the horses.

 

What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

Jake is 17 now and deserves a quieter life.  I’m hoping that in a couple of years I’ll be able to retire Jake fully and take on another project.  I’d love to retrain another racehorse and continue up the levels in both Eventing and show jumping.

 

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding? 

All the time!!! I get so nervous once I arrive at a competition that I question why I compete at all; the feelings often overwhelm and spoil the fun!

 

How do you deal with them?

If I focus on the outcome, try to relax, trust my horse, and not put too much pressure on myself then I tend to be ok!

 

Your Top Tip

This is extremely helpful re the competition nerves problems… before a competition I often watch back videos of previous competitions that went well to remind myself that there’s nothing to be nervous about and that I can do well!  

 

The Final Furlong

 

Who would be your dream horse to ride?

Hello Sanctos

 

Who is your equestrian hero?

Luca Moneta – he is a perfect example of how you can get to top level show jumping with Natural Horsemanship.  He never carries a whip, wears spurs or any gadgets on his horses including a martingale!

If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?

David Attenborough Monty Roberts Dick Van Dyke Tom Hardy Ben Hobday

Favourite colour horse?

I would LOVE a proper Black Beauty.

Favourite horse event

Badminton!

 

Favourite food

Anything Mexican, but guacamole.

Favourite way to relax

Watching a good film with a large glass of Gin!

Favourite film

Far too many to pick one so I’ll go with my favourite horsey film – The Black Stallion! Absolutely loved it as a child.      
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Sharon Howe

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