This story is good! I would love to introduce to you to one of our wonderful ambassadors, Emma. This is a story filled with ups and downs that come with real life. I hope you will continue to follow this ladies story here on our blog shes a true inspiration and a mumma juggling life, kids and ponies.
Hello, I’m Emma. I’m a 28 year old Mum of 3 from the New Forest and I have a 12 year old Exmoor mare named Lola. I took up riding lessons after a 5 year break in 2014 following the birth of my second child. I learned to ride in a new way under the care and instruction of Natalie Lascelles and even tried a small show. This time relit the flame of passion that had just been burning embers for a long time.
In late 2014 my grandfather fell ill and subsequently died in January 2015. He was the first person close to me to die and I was crushed. By the May of that year, I was lost in a pit of grief and felt like I was drowning. My husband Phillip gave me an ultimatum. I had two choices, either I went to the doctor and got help for my struggling mental health or I let horses back into my life.
Some when I had joined a Facebook group in this time specifically for owners and riders of Exmoor ponies. I had fallen in love with an unregistered Exmoor pony when my eldest child was a baby and had wanted to know more about the breed. The lively community and quirky brown ponies had pulled me in and made me feel at home. I knew that if I was going to let a horse back into my life, it was going to be an Exmoor.
I tentatively posted asking if there were any ponies available for full or part loan in my area and had a few responses.
I’m forever grateful to “Tessa Danger Hayman” who suggested Lola to me.
When I received information on Lola from her owner and breeder Jacqueline Wharton, I was instantly in love. Jacqueline described her as “Small and very pretty. Lola is cheeky and fun. Not a first pony but a fun ride for a competent child or small adult.” She sent me pictures and videos and I just couldn’t stop looking at her. We arranged to travel the 3.5 hours to Cheltenham to meet her.
There were several setbacks prior to visiting Lola that almost meant we wouldn’t be able to look after her, but we decided to go and see her anyway.
When we arrived I wasn’t expecting anything from Lola straight away. I’d part loaned several other ponies over the years and never truly bonded with them. My hopes were high but I was also cautious.
As we walked up to Lola’s paddock with Jacqueline to bring her in I heard her trademark squeal and she cantered up to the gate. She looked at me with a knowing eye and it was like I could hear her voice in my head “Where on earth have you been?!” I felt an odd recognition, like I had met her before. It was like seeing an old friend for the first time in years. I slipped her head collar on and walked up the yard. She showed me her first quirk, side stepping and snorting at some farm machinery.
I groomed her and tacked her up and soon we were off out round the roads for a hack. She had a very fast, active walk and puffed like a train. (I later learned that this is not a sign of lack of fitness for Lola but in fact just one of her ways of talking!) On the way back she was desperate for a trot, and I let her go. It was fast and bouncy but after just a few strides I found her rhythm and it was glorious. I laughed and patted her as we went along and she took me back to the yard.
After this we popped into the arena for something different and she showed me her distaste for schooling. She snorted and huffed and puffed like a train again. I asked her for walk, and for some bends. I heard that voice coming from her again “But I like to go fast!”. So I let her, first a trot and then an amazing rocking chair canter around the school. This first canter earned her the nickname “Pocket Rocket” from my husband!
This is when the story turns, I think it’s embarrassing but my husband thinks its hilarious. We set up some poles ready for a jump, planning to ride over them at a trotting pace. Lola had other ideas and began to canter, clipped her hoof on the pole and spooked to the right. I stayed on the left and fell off!
Jacqueline was worried, unlike Phil who saw I wasn’t injured and began to belly laugh! Not my finest moment! but I got back on and rode a bit more, but I had actually pulled my shoulder and didn’t feel up to jumping after that.
Looking back, I think I knew from that first moment at the field gate that we were meant to be, but I had to be sure. We went home and I slept on it. The next day I assured Jacqueline I still wanted her and we arranged for them to deliver her 2 weeks later.
The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve had our ups and downs like any relationship but we have a bond that is cemented in love and a mutual respect for each other. She is my soul sister and it is my deepest wish that she is with me always.
For various reasons (mainly lack of transport and the pregnancy and birth of my third child!) we’ve not really done much except for a charity agility day and “happy hacking” but this year I want that to change. My youngest child is now 2 years old and I am ready for some me time.
My challenge is that being a home educating mother of 3 means my time is limited. Due to this both my and Lola’s fitness has suffered. However, 2019 is going to be our year. I’ve put us both on a range of supplements and a fitness regime. Her topline is already improving after just 3 weeks and personally I am feeling stronger in my core every day. I’m hoping to get us to a few shows in the summer, and have a go at both endurance and show jumping.
I look forward to sharing our journey with you and hopefully inspiring a few other horse loving mothers to get back into the saddle!