Jenny Hughes

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This is me riding my Thoroughbred, James.

The photo looks airbrushed (yeah, OK I need it!) but itís actually sun faded because itís pretty old. James was the horse love of my life and even after he died I still love him best. He was a racehorse before I got him but he learned cross country, show jumping and even Pony Club Games with us!

Iíll always miss him but Iím very lucky to know lots of other horses, some Iíve worked with...

... like polo ponies.

I didnít compete but I helped school six, called Kismet, Pharaoh, Oberon, Claudius, Shaka Ė and George. Guess who was my favourite? Yeah, youíre right, it was the lovely, cuddly, quite dim and often naughty George. Hm, maybe Iíve just got a thing about horses with human names!

Though when I worked on a stud farm I loved a gorgeous mare whose name was Cariad, meaning sweetheart in Welsh..

While the first pony I ever rode, a very hard working, not very pretty, but to me beautiful dun-coloured mixed-breed, bit-of-everything pony was called Topper. He lived at a local riding school and taught me loads.

I saved up my pocket money to ride him every week, and he also let me practice stable chores. I was very slow at mucking out, and impatient to learn grooming, which I didnít mind taking ages. Topper also put up with my first attempts at mane-plaiting and didnít seem to mind that I made him look like a punk pony.

The first pony I owned was a Welsh Mountain filly called Black Magic (Madge for short), small in size but the owner of a very big heart.

And now? I still have lovely, lovely horses in my family, Apollo, an Appaloosa whoís ridden by my niece, and his friends, the wonderful matriarch Flo and beautifully bred Welsh bay Treacle.

So having spent most of my life working, owning and loving HORSES Iím now lucky enough to have another fabulous job Ė writing about them. So hereís one more pic for luck just because horses are beautiful! !