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The Hobby Is Addictive by Michelle Laing

Where do I begin…

After falling in love with horses from an early age, it was bound to happen sooner or later. 

I rode as a child, till I was in my early teens and if I’m very honest, I didn’t think I was ever very good, but by the age of around 30/35, I was living in the Middle East and was immensely lucky enough to start riding again.

After a while I was in the big league (well I thought I was) I was promoted to riding our resident schoolmaster who, in a previous career, was a 5* show jumper!

Loved him, bought him.

Unfortunately as he aged he decided he didn’t want to be a ridden horse but more but a rodeo king! Hospitalised in serious condition, twice nothing, wrong with pony!

So he got what he wanted and was retired, he was the most exceptional horse I have ever ridden even to this day!

At this point, and of course not bouncing off the ground as well as in my youth (!!)  my confidence was shot to bits. I’ve never experienced fear quite like it.

But onwards I charged 

I bought my close friends ex-show jumper, a stunning chestnut mare! And yes, she put me in my place more than a few times (did I mention I have no desire to jump! Ha!)

I had ridden her a few times before and knew her very well, she was 9 and a real tricky beauty to ride. But the first day I took her to the livery yard I was at, and put my foot in the stirrup it all went horribly wrong. I froze and cried from sheer fear! I couldn’t ride.

This ate away at me for years but I slowly got better, but not much. This mare was a warrior. But, one day she was on her knees, no vet could figure out why it was critical. She had a rare bacterial infection in her udder (I’d try and spell it and explain but my words are limited here) result = removal of udder!! 

Took said mare to Portugal and realised very quickly, I had zero support at the yard I was on. I had to ride as turn out wasn’t an option. When I knew no one was at the yard, I’d call my friend who was still in the Middle East and talk to her on the phone the whole time I was riding!! But it was the only thing I could do to get me in the saddle.

Everyone needs a friend who just “gets it” no questions asked. 

I ended up taking said mare to UK. She turned in to the horse she had always wanted to be a super fit, fire breathing dragon ….. Imagine going from 45’ desert heat to turned out and UK weather she loved it … me not so much! 

In February, this year, she displaced her colon and it was inoperable. My warrior chestnut mare who had travelled everywhere with me was gone. 

I wasn’t really looking for a new horse, with the loss of her the broken bones and zero confidence, it would be stupid to do so. 

So I bought a 4yo OTTB ….. I sat I loved I bought, my confidence (so far) has been restored 

Let the games  begin 

Follow the games on Michelle’s Instagram – www.instagram.com/1109michelle

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