Sunday, June 3, 2018

I Remember When....... by Victoria Chatham

For the month of June, we are repeating a topic that proved very popular this time last year. We all have our memories, but which ones stand out the most for you? Mine revolves around my first formal riding lesson on a pretty, dapple-grey pony called Greybird.  

My parents could never understand where my passion for horses came from. Neither of them was interested in the creatures that decorated the edges of my school notebooks and galloped through my dreams at night. I sat on my first pony when I was about five-years-old. We used to go to Cornwall to spend summers with my aunt and uncle and I was on the beach with the ponies every day. I walked behind the rides with a basket picking up after them, I fed them handfuls of hay and at the end of the day got to ride one back to the stables. There was never any question about where I was or what I was doing, and I loved those summers.  

Moving around as we did meant that we often were living nowhere near any riding stables but when I was eight-years-old we moved to Pembroke Dock, in South Wales. Here, as luck had it, I found a riding stable but, I think in an effort to discourage me, my parents insisted I earned my riding money by doing chores. I cleaned my dad’s army boots and the brass buttons on his uniform. I dusted and swept and dried dishes for my mum. I became an early recycler by collecting empty beer bottles but don’t recall now how much I got paid for the empties, probably one penny per bottle, but it all added up to the five shillings required for an actual riding lesson.

So, on a brilliant Saturday afternoon with the sun shining out of a clear blue sky, the grass in
the paddock beside a Norman church long and very green, and with Pembroke Castle across the river in the background, I was taught how to properly mount a saddled pony (very different to the handfuls of mane required to assist in hoisting myself onto a pony’s bare back) and everything that came after.

That day is as clear now as it ever was and, yes, I am still as passionate about horses as I was then. These days though, my riding is restricted to a gentle trail ride or two every summer. The days of dressage and what show jumping (never my favourite riding activity) I did are in the past but I still think and dream about horses and, because I write historical fiction, include them in every story I write.


  1. I was horse crazy as well when I was a girl. I saved every penny I could to buy myself a horse and eventually I had the princely sum of $100. My father dealt with a number of farmers in those days and he managed to find a lovely little pinto filly by the name of Tamala. Oh, the excitement when we went to see her. She was so pretty, with patches of caramel on cream. I adored her on sight. Alas, it never came to be as reality came crashing in. As it so often does. ;) First of all, Tamala needed training. A lot of training which of course I knew nothing about. And secondly? Buying a horse is one thing, keeping it something else altogether. ie boarding, hay, vet bills, tack, etc. etc. I never did buy a horse but I'll always remember how sweet my dad was to indulge me in my dreams. :)

  2. Yes, those extras quickly add up, don't they?