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Her first pony

Its been a long way back for Riley but he’s doing brilliantly
Once up on a time, a girl (ok a mature lady with an inner child) bought her first pony called Riley, and imagined that they would both ride off happily into the sunset.  Admittedly, the only item on my list of must haves that this pony ticked was being a handsome bay with a white a star on his face. My list did not include being very green, only being 13.2 hands high. And it certainly did not include not knowing how to canter. The pony and the girl went on a journey together. There were lots of tears, laughter, loss of confidence, highs, lows and everything in between. It was quite a learning curve but they stuck at it full of hope.

The dream fell into disarray

Riley on a hack during his rehabilitation
The plan (well ok there wasn’t one), but the outlook was for an all-round riding experience. That was until the girl (me) discovered and fell in love with dressage which promptly became both the plan and the dream. After Riley continued to struggle with canter, and following a back scan, received a kissing spine diagnosis, the dream fell into disarray. And so, a long and arduous rehabilitation journey began, with no knowledge of what the future hopes for Riley and I could be.

Finally she cracked

The girl kept dreaming and came across an advert for an unbacked youngster with dressage potential.  For weeks she kept returning to look at that advert, wanting the pony, but the practicalities held her back.  Finally she cracked and telephoned the seller only to discover that someone else was going to view the pony in five days’ time. Realising that this pony could be gone, she made an appointment to view the next day, (knowing already that in her mind it was a done deal).

Blackjack came into my life

I just couldn’t help myself after I’d seen him for sale as a 3 year old.
And so, at the end of November 2022 a beautiful three-year-old black British Warmblood called Blackjack came into my life.  Since then, I’ve been on another huge learning curve having been the first person to sit on him, and also the first person that he has unseated. I’ve been bitten many times and wondered whether it was safer to walk round the front or back of him.  I’ve lost him whilst turning him out and watched and waited whilst he galloped around like crazy until he finally stopped and put his head down to start grazing.

Filled with dread

Its early days with Blackjack and we are taking it slowly
      I’ve stood outside his stable filled with dread at having to ride him, and even cried about the prospect. I’ve emulated a stunt rider and sat bucks and broncs. I’ve failed to stay on and hit the floor.  A natural worrier, I have been extremely anxious about how he would react when other horses gallop round their fields, or he hears noises. I’ve tried desperately not to panic when he puts his head up high and suddenly transforms into 18 hands high horse.  

Growing love and admiration

In amongst all of this, there has developed a growing love and admiration for Blackjack. The happiness I felt when he finally behaved well for the farrier. The satisfaction at seeing how he has begun to handle himself when other horses around him are lively. And of course, the immense feeling of pride when the dentist told me how good he had been during his teeth check.


Riley is progressing well. Blackjack will bring challenges

He’s back and getting stronger and fitter every day. Riley….my very first pony
There is so much more to come and to share, which is why I decided it was time to resume the Life of Riley blog. Riley is getting back to full fitness. He has competed in a couple of local dressage shows and is progressing well. Blackjack will bring challenges that I haven’t yet imagined so I want to remember the journey, and also perhaps give a glimmer of hope to anyone who has dressage dreams of their own.

If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here    

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

Country & Equestrian Blogger

Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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