Meet A Treccie - Nicky Bunting

Nicky's Story

My name is Nicky and I'm a Countryside Access Officer

The first time I heard about TREC was during the Foot and Mouth crisis. I was working as a Ranger and a colleague told me about a sport she did which involved leaving your horse to stand while you walked away.

I wasn't lucky enough to have my own pony when I was young, so as a kid I spent Saturdays hanging around a riding school. 

I progressed to doing jobs on a private yard in exchange for rides. We rode at an opencast pit, there were white deer in the woods and once I got bogged cantering on the slag heaps! 

The pinnacle of my competitive career was winning second place in the mounted fancy dress at Alrewas Show in an upcycled reindeer outfit. I was Dick Whittington's Cat. 

When I was fourteen, more interesting things came along, and I didn't really ride again for twenty-five years.

It was my next-door neighbour's fault for getting me back into horses with her warnings of "not leaving it too late". So I found myself back where I began, at a riding school, having lessons and helping out.

Eventually along came Missi, my loan horse, and after a year or so of hacking and getting into scrapes, we rocked up to our first TREC comp at East Marton. It threw it down with rain throughout the POR, although that did make for a good water crossing on the Sunday. 

Then I met Julia McHugh (Bowland's TREC GB rep) and we started competing at Level 2 as a pair. When we qualified for our first GB Champs, to be held at Bryn Sion in 2010, we were so proud and excited you'd think we'd been selected for the Olympic team!

In the run up to the competition, Missi got sinusitis and it became clear she wasn't going to be able to go. But the lovely Chris offered me her cob, Wombat, even though she'd only met me a couple of times, and it was game on.

Things were going well on the POR but then Jake slipped and fell, breaking Julia's ankle. And that, as they say, was that. It was just not meant to be.

A month later, and me and Missi were back in Wales chasing a qualifier for the following year's Champs.. Now my perfect horse would have been a 15' 2", smart, minimally-coloured, hunting cob mare. Definitely no hairy, white, cart horse things with feathers and pink noses. So how come I came home having shook hands on a not even 14' 2", mainly white, very hairy and very feathery, pink-nosed gelding?

So at the age of forty-seven I bought Samson, my first horse. But although he was such a good boy (my farrier said it was because he was such a good boy), it would be another year before I could stop comparing him to Missi and love him for who he was. 

In 2011, Samson and I competed at the GB Champs on Dartmoor and although we didn't get placed WE JUMPED THE WALL!!!!! [The wall at the Dartmoor Championships cut a swathe through the field as it was fairly imposing - it has since become legendary - Ed]

In 2012 we came second in the Level 2 Individual class at the GB Champs at Fife.

The next plan was to go for Level 3 and early in 2013 we scraped a qualification at Park Farm. Shortly afterwards I broke my ankle and that was me out for the rest of the summer. I would like to say I did it getting jumped off over a huge hedge whilst team-chasing, but I actually fell over whilst leading Samson down to his field.

In October there was a qualifier at Urswick and we came third in the Level 3 Individual, which was good enough to qualifiy for what would turn out to be the final BHS TREC Champs in Oxfordshire in 2014.

But in the spring, Samson was diagnosed with a hind suspensory injury and, after surgery, spent the summer on box and then paddock rest. He did get to watch the Tour de France go past though. 

At the time of writing he is back in full work and, fingers crossed, we will be back out at Level 3 in 2015.



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