Amanda Marfleet, South East TREC Group
I was looking for a nice easy 'something' to do in my impending old age - little did I know!!
I have been involved with horses since a very early age. I had shown from the age of 5 (I still have my 1957 Royal Richmond leading rein rosette!), was given a pony for my 10th birthday, then was lucky enough to come across the Ramsays, Marjorie and Richard and kept my ponies with them until I was 18. I mainly did showing, jumping and PC (including being in the Prince Philip cup team when I was about 12 - I know that is hard to believe now as anyone who sees me struggle to get on in the PTV will testify!!), and left home to briefly work in a riding school and livery yard in Essex.
Horses became my entire life, and I was lucky enough to scrape a living by teaching and buying and selling. I took schooling liveries and rode hunters, eventers and showjumping horses for the next 20 years, including jumping several from nothing to Grade A. Interesting trips to Denmark to import youngsters, jumping them and then selling them on were all part of life, living then in the beautiful Shropshire hills.
Life took another turn in the late 80s and I ended up in London. Horses took a back seat for a few years, suits replaced jeans and jodhs, smart haircuts replaced hairnets and heels replaced jodhpur boots.
However, as we all know too well, horses get in your blood and a small fib later, a trip to Gloucestershire on the pretence of looking at a horse to lease (the new word for 'for sale') and BH was mine. BH as in the Bloody Horse - as in 'now I have a BH I need a b----- lorry', not to mention somewhere to keep him.
Windsor Park sounded good. Not so good in rush hour from London as it turned out so we moved to Westway stables under the Westway flyover in Notting Hill. The riding was fab and you could spend hours meandering around Kensington streets peering over walls into secret gardens!
Australia followed (not quite in the original life plan) but we had a fantastic 8 years there with lots of super ponies and horses. I had wins at all the major shows including Hunter Pony of the Year at the Grand National (the Aussie Horse of the Year) and Kate (now 23) won every major dressage title in pony and young rider up to Prix St George level. We travelled all over Australia, which would explain why we now TREC everywhere - when you've driven 2 days from Sydney to Melbourne in 40 degrees of heat with no air con in the cab, Scotland is easy!!!
Home in September 2006, we ended up in Kent as the husband needed to be near the Eurostar (in fact, that lasted a couple of years, and he then decided air travel was more convenient!). So we live in an area infinitely nearer Paris than anywhere sensible like the midlands, and live with negotiating the M25 carpark before we start any journey! I’m so glad I had the years of practice in Aus of sitting in a lorry cab for hours and hours.
A chance remark made at the 2011 Windsor Horse Show by Jill Jerram, of showing fame, started my TREC journey. She asked me what I would do when Kate went to university with a yard full of show horses and ponies, and behind me there was a PTV demo going on with Tim Stockdale and, I think, some south east Treccies. I pointed behind me, and replied ‘that is what I am going to do’, despite not having the faintest idea what was involved.
The week after Horse of the Year Show I found the Tilford competition, rang someone and dragged my partner in crime, Vicki Glynn along to look. We were welcomed by everyone, allowed into the maproom, allowed to copy a map, and in whispers as we walked out, I asked where the start was? I thought this was a logical question, and was met by astonished organisers who said 'here'. Now, the answer we expected was maybe 'down though the gate where you will see the large start flags'. Our turn to be totally astonished!!! Ooops - ok, so we have to find our own way out of the field?? It got funnier as, having managed to get down the drive, across the road, and into the woods, we came across several perplexed riders all standing in a group staring at their maps, then came across a man hidden on a deckchair in a large clump of bracken (now identified as John Mclean) - 'a manned ticket'!!! Did we really want to do this???
We went back, slightly traumatised, walked the PTV course and came across Di Cripps judging an obstacle, who was so lovely. She explained that her husband did TREC on his retired eventer, and really she was one of the main reasons we decided we might have a go the next season.
I started on the 15 hh hunter pony, Valentino, the following year, with Essex short comp and then doing Battlefields and another Central TREC, coming 2nd in the level 2 individual by total beginners luck. On looking at the results for this article found I beat the illustrious Bob Cripps on the way!!!
I kept badgering Vicki to come as well, but she was still showing Red at a high level, and only joined me at the Swanworth TREC at the end of the year, where we won by a totally astonishing huge margin! Things could only go downhill from there, but by this time we were both completely hooked.
Since then we have had two fantastic years as Treccies on tour - the ‘Ladies in Pink’. We are lucky enough to have the time to be complete partners in crime, and have competed in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Belgium and all over the UK from Cumbria to Kent.
We have made fantastic friends, laughed and cried, been very loud (sorry!) and generally had a ball. We have learnt to appreciate how much time is put in by volunteers to enable our sport to go forward, been exhausted and coped with broken bones (and still kept riding). Vicki learnt to use a compass and I am now very grown up with a speed/distance chart. The extent of our teamwork is this: Me "I think we need a bearing Vick", Vicki "ok, stand still Red, will you stand still" long pause "we should be going North East" very long pause and then in an astonished voice "and we are!!!"
So much for a quiet retirement sport, but we are not yet ready for knitting or stamp collecting yet, however much we say so!