Here at Cunetio we are lucky enough to have the loveliest lot of liveries you could ever find.........
Sue and Michaela riding Juno and Rosie along Smeathes Ridge
As we all sat round the kitchen table for Tea and Toast after the Saturday ride, we asked our livery friends if they would like to write a little bit about their horse and send it to us for the website with their favourite picture of him or her.
Kathy has started the ball rolling with a lovely bit about Woody and Paddy who she has on loan. They couldn't have a better mummy anywhere in the world.
A Tale of Two Horses
My First Love
My first love is Woody who I have been riding for a few years now. He was the first horse I rode at Cunetio and he is a sweetie. Mick took me out on my first ride on him and said he would take it easy!! a few canters and a gallop (my first ever!) later and I felt I had been well and truly initiated! It was brilliant so much better than any rides I had been on before. I loved the way we got to catch in and tack up our horses, it does create a bond and makes you feel part of it all instead of just being handed a horse fully tacked up to ride then handing it back afterwards.
When a chance came to loan, Woody was my boy he has been fantastic so much so that I feel confident enough to go out on my own with him now which I thought I would never be able to do on a horse.
He is a real character and catching him in could sometimes be fun especially when he was still lying down the vibes were ‘could you come back later bit busy at the moment’.
Unfortunately though Woody is not as young as he used to be and sometimes goes lame, so Mick suggested that I take on Paddy so I would always hopefully have a horse to ride all year.
One time Woody went lame and I had to ride Paddy back while Mick walked Woody home, I cried a lot riding back that day and evening thinking that I would not be able to ride Woody again. But with Mick and Heath’s care he is back on form and can be as naughty as the youngsters when the mood takes him he is still full of spirit and still such a joy to ride. So Woody you were my first love and I will always enjoy riding you when I can xxxxxxxx
But Paddy felt really comfortable and hence…..
It’s not you it’s me…..
I decided to start to ride Paddy more often; unfortunately I had seen him play up a few times which did not help my confidence on him. I truly believe though that you should never judge a book by its cover so with Mick’s help and advice I started to ride him more and get to know him better.
He is lovely and I now know that when I stay calm he stays calm, he does not like being groomed or having his feet picked and reminded me of that with a swift kick to the leg but now I know these things I bribe him with carrots and he ‘lets’ me pick his feet and he gets better every time I do it. A quick rub over the back to remove any stray bits of straw is what Paddy calls a good groom so that’s all I do and then off we go.
He has his spirited moments but that is what makes him a pleasure to ride. You really feel you are riding him and he listens to all your commands and try’s to do what he is told, he is so willing to please and waits to be asked for canters and gallops never racing off. As long as he has good space between all the others he is happy if not the ears go back, the back legs start twitching and he pulls a lovely grumpy face.
Occasionally he shows his soft side too, getting spooked by a crisp packet or some other awful ‘monster’ that has appeared in front of him then you have to push him on and get his confidence back so not the wild creature I had thought and Paddy it’s not you it’s me and we will get there I hope you agree xx
What can I tell you about Dilly (officially known as Dilwyn and rather rudely known as Dildo!). She is 21 years young and I have had her on loan since May 2012 when Mick and Heather went travelling. Her owner is currently away at University studying to be a vet. .
She is a feisty old girl like myself and we have lots of fun hacking out and about. She doesn't like to be groomed or cuddled but is a fantastic lead horse who knows her job. She can be very wilful and battles sometimes occur which I don't always win! She loves to run and always thinks she knows best!.
She is approximately 14.2, solidly built and very hairy. She adores living out in all winds and weathers and hates being stabled.
I hope her good health continues for many years and. we carry on having amazing hacks out in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside....
Mick and Heather do a fantastic job of looking after her, along with all the other horses and special thanks go to my riding partner Alan for doing the necessary during the week when I am stuck in the office.
This year is the first year I have not had to wish (beg, grovel, plead) for a pony at Christmastime, because I have Daisy!
I’ve had her on loan for nine months now, and it’s been brilliant! I learnt to ride with Mick and Heather when I was younger, and had always been more than happy to tag along with a group ride and see where Mick would take us. Now, I’m more adventurous, and think nothing of popping over to the yard and going out myself for a quiet hack, or maybe a not-so-quiet one! Each time really is an adventure - we go a little further, and learn new things about each other. Like Dais' preference for side stepping cow parsley, rather than munching it like a normal horse. We both seem to enjoy a good groom session too. Daisy’s quite chilled about getting a fuss, and I like (trying) to keep her white bits white!
Yes, we have our issues: Dais is known for pulling like a train sometimes/most-of-the-time, and she’s too intelligent for her own good: “No mum, I’m quite sure if we go this way we’ll be home quicker!” She is also far too aware of how four legs are quicker than two, and we’ve had days when I’ve entertained campers at the summer yard by playing chase with her.
She’s not a plod along cob, but I feel completely safe on her, and she’s definitely become more trusting and relaxed around me as the months have gone on (which may be due to the carrots, but I’m taking the credit). It’s all been so much fun, and is truly a wish fulfilled!
She’s the prettiest girl on the yard (I’m not biased…!).
PS....Em is our youngest livery and we all admire her tremendously; she is hardworking and brave, she makes us laugh, is always improving her riding and we all love her to bits.
A Match Made In Heaven
The day I first rode with Mick and Heather was the day my life changed to the one I'd always dreamed of. The one where I have my own horse.
My first love though was Magic, but alas it was not to be because she was loved by many others (especially Mick and Heather).
One day a little flighty but sweet Arab X called Rosie arrived with Heather's name on her. I watched in awe as she bucked and kicked her heels with excitement down the road, happy to be out and thought 'Oh I wish she could be mine' (being the adrenaline junkie that I am!)
Then the day arrived. I was late and all the horses were allocated and Rosie was tied uo to the fence alone, with nowhere to go. I bravely spoke up and asked, 'What about Rosie, can I ride her?'. Mick and Heather looked at each other in disbelief, I think, but it worked. It was so right and I fell in love (obsessed, my Mum called it). Within a week the transformation began from 'nutty mare' to 'posh pink pony'.
We have been inseperable since. Rosie is very pretty, very fast and I always get good reports about her behaviour from our many friends at the yard. She likes Richard especially because he always has treats!
Rosie's boyfriend is Juno (although Geordie has been giving her the eye lately) and once I'd managed to overcome her phobia of trailers we were out and about on sponsored rides and learning to jump. Best of all though are the endless miles of countryside we travel accross which are on the doorstep. Aldbourne, Ramsbury, Fyfield, Barbury Castle, Sugar Hill, Valley of the Stones, Avebury, Upper Upham, Littlecote and loads more.
For Rosie, who has done endurance work, before we met, this is bliss. She can run and run and run and run.........................
Rosie's other love is fashion and she has her own collection of rugs referred to as Rosie's Robes. One for every occasion!
Last, but not least, is Rosie's ability to lighten my spirit by tossing her head and running across the field to meet me at the gate when I go over to see her. She is a mare in a million!
A HORSE IN A MILLION.....
It started around 9 maybe 10 years ago.....a friend of mine telling me about a riding school that was just like the one we rode at as kids -,so there I was making my childhood memories a reality again!! what started as a couple of times a month ride soon turned into an every weekend session. Oh I was back in heaven.
Fast forward a few years and I was lucky enough to be given a horse called Toby from mick and heather. He isn't everyones cup of tea as he's kind of quirky looking with high withers and a slight sway back. Well I say slight... some may say different... it doesn't stop him from doing anything and he's always ready for a gallop across the fields. I call him my rufty tufty as we've been told to put him down a couple of times as he's had serious injuries but with micks knowledge and guiding hand we've got him right again. His best friend at the yard is woody and I call them the odd couple, Toby with his back and Woody with his spots but they adore each other. He's 18 now but acts like an excited teenager when he knows a run is coming up and has been known to forget what his legs do in all the excitement and then he remembers and off we go with grim determination to get by as many as possible!! We have the most beautiful places to ride and it doesn't matter how many times you ride the scenery takes on a different look each time. The best rides are when mick and heather ride and take us out on what's known as a mick ride. There's lots of wohoos and yays as we gallop across fields and then we walk for a bit then we're off again - then back to the yard to feed, then it's time for us to be fed and we go back to theirs for the best tea and toast you could ever find and its been known for heather to open the fridge and rustle up a 3 course meal for us!!
When I can't get out to the yard I know Toby will be looked after by mick and heather so I consider myself to be one lucky lady as if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be living a life that many people can only dream of and hopefully me and Toby will have many more years of fun together.
Well it is not her best picture but it does show she is the most beautiful mare on the yard (eat your heart out Dais’!) Libby is a bay cob with 3 white socks and a blaze and an auburn mane.
I came to Mick & Heathers’ to do longer rides as had booked a riding holiday abroad and was worried that I wouldn’t cope with the day rides. I was given a choice of horses, amongst them Libby ... no contest. I have always loved cobs.. and Libby is very much “her own person” as Mick has said. After that I always wanted to ride her. Mick & Heather would tease me by delaying telling me & watch me hop up & down in anticipation!
When I had the opportunity to have her on loan last summer I jumped at the chance to see if I could juggle work and horse. It was so lovely being able to ride out on summer evenings after work.
I didn’t want to give her back then and was thrilled to be able to buy her last Autumn. Still have to pinch myself... tis a dream come true.
She is a flirt when she is on heat... flicking her tail at all the boys... especially Teddy who she is willing to follow anywhere. She is a bit of a groupie, quite calm in small groups but gets competitive in larger groups always wanting to be up at the front even if the boys overtake her on a long gallop. When she arches her neck those big neck muscles come into play and she can be a bit headstrong but only because she is eager; she loves looking about at the views and likes a loose rein. She is good to handle and happy to be groomed and fussed over, particularly if there is food involved – a girl after my own heart/stomach!!
It is wonderful to have fit horse and to know that she is taken good care of by Mick & Heather when I am not there. It is great to know that Mick & Heather are always there for advice and they are very encouraging; I have learnt a lot from them and this summer have made a promise to learn to ride out on my own.. she has started learning to lead sometimes and we will continue working on that.
After all the crap of the working week there is nothing like going out for a ride and reconnecting with nature; the partnership between horse and human is special and the sense of freedom (hence the liberator tag) when cantering along or trotting down the lanes together is fantastic, sets you up to face the week ahead.
Everyone on the yard is very friendly and helpful and the best end of the day is having tea, toast and cake with Mick & Heather (who is a wonderful cook), warming up and sharing our experiences.