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    While I was on holiday I had some thinking time, those who know me know this can be a bad thing!


    So, what did I think about? Well, I’m a nutshell, I reviewed my career and where it was, where it is currently and where I want it to be, which to cut a long story short meant I realised how much I missed riding, schooling and competing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a ball riding other people’s horses and am very grateful to the owners, but since I lost my beloved rocky in June, I’ve been in no mans land and totally lost. So, during our holiday my ever patient husband endured a week of my ramblings about the afore mentioned, and the decision was made that we should look for our next Equine friend.....


    I had no preconceived ideas of what I wanted, so the challenge was made somewhat harder to find that friend! 


    I basically spent 90% of our holiday perusing the internet, when I actually found signal (!) and seeing where my heart would take me, finally settling on something I’ve had before.... an ex racer. So contact was made to every rehoming place I could find to see what was looking for a new home, and the procedure I would have to follow to get one, which seemed to vary from easy to quite hard, but I know I can give a horse the 5* home they deserve so wasn’t put off by this. 


    A few weeks after the search began, I have to admit I was feeling defeated, with some pages advertising a new arrival and then being homed that very day, I had a change of mind, perhaps a rehoming centre wasn’t the place to look, until purely by chance someone had tagged a Scottish rehoming centre on one of the other pages, which lead me to immediately go check it out! 


    Not expecting anything at all, I looked through the page, saw a few lovely looking ex racers and for reasons only known to me, I messaged the page with my information and a plea for help to find my next best friend. I didn’t expect a response, but after a few moments I found myself chatting away to the person behind the page, Kevin, as I now know, who informed me of a potential that was arriving the following day, Sunday, and he would have more details once the horse had arrived and been assessed, so having heard a similar story what felt like a hundred times, I said ok, let me know, with a sinking feeling of “here we go again” and continued my perusing....


    Monday the horse was up on the page, and contact was made again, I watched some videos and saw pictures, there was something very attractive about this one, I couldn’t tell you what, just “something”, anyway my brain said don’t be stupid, he’s in Scotland, you are in Hampshire, you can’t go and try him, so leave it alone.....


    Meet Harry!!! 

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    Yes, I know, what have I done?! I’ve bought a racehorse who had his last race a couple of weeks ago, totally unseen and a proper gamble, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained yes? 


    He’s called Mercer’s Row, which is something to do with tailoring, but we thought he looked like a Harry. A 10yr old bay gelding who has spent his life racing on the flat, so I have some work to do to sort out the muscles and put them where they should be! 


    I can’t thank Kevin enough for his help, his organising the transport and putting up with a barrage of questions about harry and his history, think he should have a medal!


    Harry will never replace rocky, but hope he fills a very empty void that he left behind. 


    Can’t wait to start writing some blogs about his progress. X



  2. Visiting the Haras National Du Pin in France


    While I was on holiday in France last week (yes I know, I was shocked by that too!), I was determined to do something “Horsey”!

    Having searched for something suitable, I stumbled across the Haras National Du Pin, or the French National Stud. The website looked amazing and mentioned that on Thursday afternoons they held a show, so my week was planned, all I had to do was survive horseless until Thursday!

    Thursday arrived – eventually!- and off my husband and I went on an hours journey to see this infamous stud…

    On arrival I was rendered speechless (yes I know, yet another surprise!) at how big the place was, this was by no means an “everyday” stud, this was simply spectacular.




    There was a large welcoming sign, some of which was in English- thankfully! *Should have paid more attention in French at school* the entrance took you into a large shopping area which had the usual touristy type items for sale, t-shirts, bags, pens etc, but there was also a library to wonder around which offered reading materials ranging from the early horses to present, classical riding to everyday riding, quit fascinating really, along with some more expensive items such as bronze casts of horses and luxury bags. I think there was something for everyone really, but mainly tourists wanting memorabilia. I was very good, yes that’s right, I looked but didn’t purchase. (Mainly due to the husband being present!)

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    In the centre of the vast room was the information desk, where once again they spoke English, informing us that there was a guided tour that pm followed by the show, all-inclusive for 36euros for both of us, so it just had to be done! The tour was in French but we were provided with an English “script” which they followed and allowed us to keep up with what they were talking about.

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    The tour started at the main entrance with a brief overview of the great driveway, moving on to the chateau where the tour guide spoke about the great and wealthy who had visited there over the years, followed by a view over the outdoor arena, and WOW what a place to ride…



    Then we had a tour around their “tack room”, well, I know I have an obsession with tidy, but this is a whole new level!

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    Following this we saw the many carriages and heard about their role in history, fascinating moment of the tour.


    Then the bit I was waiting for, the stables…

    WOW, I genuinely can’t think of another term to describe them, tidy, beds neat, tack all in the correct place, it was picture perfect.

    The different yards hosted different breeds, from the tiny Shetlands, to the giant Percherons, who were all stallions and perfect gentlemen.

    Each yard was as clean and tidy as the others, all the horses were as happy as Larry and happily munching their hay or haylage as appropriate.

    The tour ended here in the stables, when we were left to have a wander around on our own, when I found the horses again (sorry – not sorry!) and imagined how it must feel to work with these awesome horses in such an awesome place…..

    Once I returned from dreamland it was 3.30pm and time for the “show”, not knowing what to expect, we joined the queue of people, who seemed to have grown by the hundreds!!

    Once we were directed to our seats in the auditorium, and the last of what felt like millions of others found their seats, the lights went down and a loud bang (knock?) not sure which, but two people appeared from the basement and the show began…

    I genuinely had no idea what to expect, as it was all in French *damn not listening in school!* and it took me a few moments to get the idea that it was based around Halloween (doh, didn’t I think about Halloween?!) the “actors” played various roles from ghosts to policemen and women, with an easy to follow “story” even if I couldn’t understand what they were saying!!

    The “actors” were clearly the staff and showed tremendous horsemanship varying from groundwork with the tiny Shetland ponies we saw in the stables earlier who all came into the arena with skeletons strapped to them, much to everyone’s amusement, and one of the “ghosts” controlled them in a display of magical horsemanship.


    The show went on for an hour and half, varying from the Shetlands as mentioned, to this: an astounding show of horsemanship, I had a tear in my eye when this finished, the relationship the man and horse had was simply amazing.

    We were treated to an ending varying from the “ghosts” standing on the Percherons backs, showing superb balance, to the Shetlands coming back in to take their bow. 

    The “Ghost Rider” from the Halloween show at the Haras Du Pin, October 2017 from Sharon Johnson on Vimeo.

    After a fairly mundane, boring horseless week, this afternoon made the French holiday worth every boring minute!! Would I recommend a visit… OMG YES YES YES!