In The Country Magazine
In The Country

Three years with my horse of a lifetime.

Today, Facebook memories kindly reminded me that I have owned my big loveable, lollopy beast for three whole years. Time really does fly. I remember the first time I went to see him as if it were only yesterday.

Those of us who own horses and have in fact found our horse of a lifetime will know that there always seems to be some kind of story behind how you met them and how they came to be in your life. It never seems to be quite as simple as you just bought them. It’s kind of romantic really when you think about it…

Simba – my gentle giant will be a familiar face to many of you on my Instagram. How we came to be in each other’s lives is no different, there is a story behind it and seeing as it’s our ‘three year anniversary‘ I thought I would share it with you all.

I was at a tack sale with my good friend Laura, selling practically all of my horsey belongings. I had recently sold my mare and had decided that I was going to take a break from horses for a while to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life so to speak. The tack sale wasn’t all that great apart from when a lady walked up to our stand and enquired about some t-shirts I was selling.

The were labelled as £7 each and me being me thought I will give her a good deal if she buys the two so I confidently chanted: “£7 each or the two for £15.” Safe to say she looked little baffled and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why, so I repeated myself. At that point, Laura erupted with laughter behind me and after explaining what was so funny I practically through the t-shirts at the poor lady in embarrassment. Maths isn’t my strong point and for those of you who can’t see why that is funny, I would say it isn’t yours either.

Earlier that night I had placed a little note on the front of my table asking if anyone had any larger horses to ride. I have always been quite tall and am definitely a horse girl rather than a pony girl. I love the bigger horses and the ponies just seem to take the mick! I know I mentioned I was going to give horses a break and so I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it. 

Just as we began packing up an elderly gentleman mentioned he had a big horse he was wanting to sell. He hadn’t been broken in or handled or that much and had been living out in a field in his garden. Explaining he was only nearby he asked if we wanted to come and have a look. Now, ordinarily I probably would have declined BUT because Laura and I were having a ‘girls night’ so to speak we thought what the heck, let’s go and have a look. After we had packed up, we followed them back to their house to meet this mysterious horse.

The moment I saw him, I was sold. My fate was sealed. He plodded over, gangly with legs all over the place, head low and I remember Laura nudging me telling me not to even think about it. He had (and still has) the kindest eyes I have ever seen. There was something about him that just resonated with me despite Laura’s reservations.

 I asked the gentleman if I could come back in a day or so to have a second look, alone. I wanted to see what he was like to catch, handle and if he would let me pick his feet up. Well he was a star. I remember his roached back, unkempt mane and the look in his eye – he was coming home with me. I didn’t have a trailer at the time and so asked them if they wouldn’t mind dropping him to me, to which they kindly agreed.

The picture above was taken on the first evening I got hime home.

Once he was home the really journey started. I had ridden youngsters before and re-schooled a couple of horses to a basic degree but never fully broken something in. Let alone a 17+hh horse.

We took our time, I didn’t want to rush things with him and I was of the view that if he wasn’t ready he would let me know. We started slowly, I remember soaking the bit in warm sugary water for the first few weeks. We started some basic lunge work and then after three weeks or so I began leaning over him (standing on an overturned bath tub due to his size). I did most of this alone as we weren’t on a yard but more of a secluded field and stable set-up. After a few days of this, I did eventually get on him for the first time.

The photo above was taken the very first time I fully sat on him, around three weeks after the first photo.

Despite the fact we had been practising walking around on the lunge with the saddle on,  I just felt it might be nicer for him to initially have me sit on him bareback. That way we were more connected. He was a little unsure at first, hesitant to take a step but after a little reassurance we began to take our first steps. 

This was new to the both of us and it genuinely felt like he trusted me just as I trusted him.

Ever since that day he has taken everything in his stride. He has never done anything nasty under saddle or otherwise and has gone from strength to strength. This was him around three months after the first picture was taken.

After the Summer, I then turned him away for the Winter whilst I went travelling in New Zealand. I think this worked well for us both. I met him at a time in my life when I wasn’t really sure what was going on and whilst SO much has happened over the last three years he has been with me through thick and thin. I honestly couldn’t love him any more than I do.

Admittedly, he has had a rather prolonged holiday since I returned from NZ in 2016. Since then I have been busy setting up the magazine/business and everything has all been a little crazy in doing so. Not that he has minded I am sure!

Photo credit: Events Through A Lens.

I bought him as an unbroken three year old and he is now a happy, healthy and incredibly handsome six year old who loves to work. He has some amazing movements to and a pretty hefty jump – I can’t wait for our future together.

 Photo credit: Events Through A Lens.

Here’s to many more years. You might remember the image above from our very first magazine cover. I am holding Simba and James is holding a rather curious Bella. I am sure you’ll agree, if it wasn’t for his unique markings, he looks like an almost entirely different horse from the first image. I like to think so anyway. 

If any of you have any horsey stories like this I would love for you to leave a comment on the social media post you clicked through to here on. I love reading them!

Until next time…

Lots of love,

Hollie-Ella (and Simba) Xxx

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