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Flying the Flag for the Over-Horsed Amateur by Cerys Basher

At the age of 22, having just had to give up the most incredible little loan mare back to her owner, I decided it was finally time to buy my very own horse. I’d started riding quite late on, due to having non-horsey parents. I had learnt to ride from the age of 12 on a backing and schooling livery yard whilst volunteering for my Duke of Edinburgh Award – so no Pony Club upbringing and not really a conventional way of learning either. 

But alas, I’d been riding for almost 10 years when I bought Ruby, I knew enough to get by, right? I was certainly experienced enough… surely? 

I set out to buy a young, coloured cob as a bit of a project. What I ended up with was a 13 year old, black, Thoroughbred X mare.

A bit of a difference.

She had only ever really hacked in her life and so was very green with her schooling and all she really knew was to bomb at 100 miles an hour into a fence and leap it as high as possible. 

Fast forward to bringing her home and what faced me was far more of a challenge than I’d initially realised. Ruby was incredibly anxious and bolshy. Within the first week, she’d reared and knocked over a chiropractor who labelled her ‘dangerous’, reared for the farrier, barged through me repeatedly, reared walking into the stable block, reared out hacking and just was not coping with her new life at all. 

I distinctly remember my best friend asking;

‘what on Earth have you bought?’

and so as a first time horse owner, I had to accept that I’d potentially over-horsed myself. But I had to step up! If I gave up on her, where would she end up?

So, I began to work on it. Consistently. Every day. We walked in and out of the stable block, we tied up away from the other horses, we learnt to back up and we braved hacking solo as much as possible. We worked and we practised and we learnt to trust each other.

Fast forward to almost two years down the line and this little (big) mare is making all of my dreams come true. I passed my trailer test in June 2021 and since then, we have been going on outings for lessons and have also started competing in low level showjumping classes (whilst also practicing overcoming major loading issues!) But now the ‘imposter syndrome’ hits. Who am I to be out competing against those who have ridden their whole lives? What if they look and laugh at me? 

I think these are big mental challenges for those of us who haven’t come to riding as a young child or who don’t have the ‘horsey family’.

What right do we have to compete against everyone else? Every right.

There is no other feeling quite like hearing “entering the ring now is Cerys Basher riding Lynfield Night Fury” – that beats out the imposter syndrome and makes up for the challenges we’ve faced, every time.

Follow Cerys’ journey here: