I’m Vicky, 38 and live in Sunny North Devon with my husband and 6-year-old son. I work part-time as a researcher for a Town Council in Cornwall and have a background in law. I enjoy keeping fit, baking, doing up our old cottage and generally being outdoors.
How long have you been riding?
I didn’t start riding until I was 19, so a little bit of a late starter. I grew up in Greater London and stables were slightly thin on the ground and expensive, so it wasn’t until I began to earn my own money that I was able to fulfil my dream of riding. I have ridden regularly since, with a gap or a year or so when I had my son.
Where and when do you ride?
I ride at Woolloton Equestrian Centre, just outside of Great Torrington, Devon.
I have a mixture of private and lunge lessons and some free schooling. It’s great being at a yard with an indoor school so I can keep riding whatever the weather. It seems to rain an awful lot in Devon!
I regularly hacked on Exmoor when I lived closer but, as we have now moved just outside of
Dartmoor, I have plans to get hacking again on the moor this year.
Why did you started riding?
I have loved horses for as long as I can remember, a passion that was fuelled by my first My Little Pony! Every holiday or school fete I would badger my mum to let me have a horse ride and I would sit glued to the window during any train journeys to spot any horses in their fields.
I was always desperate to ride and starting lessons felt amazing.
What you are currently working on in your riding
At the moment we are working on achieving more impulsion and working correctly in an outline. I’m working hard to influence each pace more and to be more positive straight at the start of each lesson.
What do you love about riding?
I can be quite an anxious person, but I find riding is such great therapy. It’s the only time my mind seems to switch off and I can just be totally absorbed in the moment. It got me through a difficult period when I lost my dad and has been a constant in my life for many years now.
I get such a high after a good lesson but even if it’s a difficult one, I always come away feeling I have learnt something new and am grateful that these wonderful animals work with us.
It’s also been great therapy physically for me. After I had my son, I suffered with a lot of numbness down my left side. It was so frustrating when I started back riding, as my left leg had a mind of its own and just wouldn’t stay put!
Riding has really helped strengthen the leg and my numbness is so much improved that it only really find it is an issue after a long hack.
What you would like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals
I would like to be able to improve a horse’s way of going with a more consistent contact and to hack out confidently.
I would also love to have another horse share and, when my son is older, my own
How are you as a rider
I am fairly confident in the school and open to riding new or different horses. I’m the opposite out hacking! I have a habit of fearing the worst and losing control in canter that I would love to break, as it does take the enjoyment out of hacking for me, which is a shame as some of my best horsey memories have been out hacking.
What made you nervous
I used to help at my first riding school and one Boxing Day went on the helpers and instructors hack. There must have been about 25-30 horses, all fresh from being stabled for a few days over the festive period and it was carnage!
I remember seeing people being bucked off in all directions and the sheer
pent up power of the horse I had (who was usually as sane as anything) really frightened me. I did make it back in one piece but that feeling of being out of control has always stayed with me.
How do you deal with your nerves?
I try not to think ahead on the ride too much, particularly if there is a canter spot I know is coming.
It helps to have good company so that I can take my mind off my nerves with a good gossip! Rescue Remedy did help previously, so I would like to give that a go again.
The Final Furlong – Eight Quick Questions
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
John Whittaker’s Milton
Who is your equestrian hero?
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Tom Hanks, Ricky Gervais, my dad, Stephen Graham and Roisin Conaty