Back in 1992 I decided to buy myself another horse having had a brief break from riding, but was drawn back into it, by buying my little sister a pony. One show later and the old competitive instinct was back and I wanted my own!
Duke was found in a field on a cold November day, no rugs and him being a pure bred Arab, shivering uncontrollably – cold and miserable he was herded into a stable where I found out he was unbroken and unhandled and just four years old.
My buying list of dos and don'ts consisted of:
Not a pure breed!
Not a youngster!
Not a grey!
And definitely not an unbroken four year old!
However, lists mean nothing and on the 24th December 1992 out of a trailer emerged a snorting, sweating monster who was all of the above - I thought “Oh my God, what have I done!”. Little did I know I had just bought the horse that dreams are made of!
Duke’s registered name was Apollo’s Destiny and so it was that Team Apollo was born. In his sixteen years with me since then, he has competed and won at the following:Showing – at county level
- Dressage – at affiliated level
- Show Jumping – at affiliated level
- Combined Training
- British Eventing
The pictures you see of him are taken during his career it was the best £800 I had ever spent. He owes me nothing and will remain very special to us all, always. He was retired in 2006 and he now spends his time…….. eating and being in charge!
"Dan" : Apollo's Statesman:
“I forbid you to buy another horse” those immortal words of one’s non-horsey husband on the 30th April 1999. Two hours later a leggy 17 hands five year old bay gelding descended down the ramp of a lorry that had travelled from Newmarket.
I made the intrepid phone call :.............“I’ve got a surprise for you"......the reply:...........“It better not have four ******* legs!”
Well it did have four legs – very long ones as it happens, now standing at 17.2 hh – 'Dan' came to me just broken, but with manners and a personality to die for.
His results speak for themselves although he still can’t canter a circle and finds he can only canter properly when heading for a fence.
Each section at British Eventing competition, contains approx. 50 competitors. All horses have to complete a dressage test (from memory) a round of show jumping and cross country course which is timed. Those on the least penalties at the end of the competition – Wins.
The pictures you see are of Dan “Apollo’s Statesman’ competing at one of his British Eventing Events.
In 2006 Dan qualified for the Eventing Regional Finals at Intro level by winning at Solihull - he then qualified for the National Championships at Bradwall with a 6th place amongst the other Regional Qualifiers. He then went on to compete in the Grass Roots Eventing National Championships at Aston Le Walls, where he did the best Dressage of his career, and jumped a double clear - he didn't let me down and although we weren't placed because everyone was at the top of their game, I think I was the proudest of owners on the day.
My heartfelt thanks go to Lewis, my groom (and fabulous dressage rider!) and Trevor Statham, my driver (and fabulous person!) for their unstinting belief in me and their unfailing support - even when I'm having a senior moment! Others worthy of a mention here, are my sister Sally who also supports me at all times and my friends, Anita, Claire, Emily, Corrina, Julie, Ashley and Dawn to name just a few and of course, Richard Hayward (once seen never forgotten!!) all of whom form part of Team Apollo!
"Buffy" : Apollo's State Secret:
‘Buffy’ was purchased back in January 2005 by myself and Richard Hayward as a ‘project’. She was an unbroken 4 year old mare and when we saw her she was completely ….well…mad!
As she had not been ridden we saw her loose in the school and as well as trying to jump the five bar gate out, she jumped a fence and her heels cleared the top of the wings ! We bought her, along with a couple of ponies for the school – the ones we were supposed to be there buying!
We nicknamed her ’Buffy the Richard Slayer’ although she could quite easily have been called ‘Buffy the Kerry Slayer’ as both Richard and I have never fallen off a horse as much as we have off her.
She has proven to be super sonic over a fence and as brave as a lion cross country and she really has earned her Apollo name, I lightly competed her in 2005, doing just 4 events, her best result was 6th at Solihull where she jumped a double clear much to our amazement as she had to jump a newly erected owl hole which even Dan found spooky.
Buffy peaked early in 2006 and won her first event by a mile but was then lame for the whole of 2006 which I have written about previously.