Christiane has some amazing friends, the kind of friends you know will always be there whilst letting you live your life too.  After realising that her life had been quite full on in recent years- within which there are 3 small children – they decided to club together and buy her a shoot session with me.  We  booked in her session for later in the year and then typical of life for Christiane, it went a bit crazy.

After a number of postponements generally down to kiddies being poorly, Christiane also having some sickness, tricky availability issues to work with or the flipping weather that just seemed to be against us we finally got to meet properly this summer. To be fair by this stage I felt like I knew Christiane pretty well by now!

… and then I met Cadbury

Cadbury is her dream Friesian black mare… oh, hang on, no he’s not!!

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A few moons ago, Christiane’s dream was to own a Friesian mare.  A big black mare.  This was still her dream as University beckoned, but then things took a severe turn with a terrible riding accident when riding a horse for someone else. She doesn’t remember the fall (thankfully I’d say) as it left her with a smashed femur and full of rods to hold her leg together.  Defying odds, she’s gone on to ride despite there always being the huge worry that another fall may cause serious issues for that leg.  The accident and subsequent operations also stopped her Uni course. She never returned.

What did then happen though triggered a new path. Instead of finally getting her Friesian she found herself the proud owner of Cadbury, a 3 year old Welsh D gelding. I reckon it’s OK to say she went for a more readily available version of her dream.  She thought she’d break him, bring him on and use it as a stepping stone to the original plan to get her dream mare.  Then near disaster struck and Cadbury suffered an injury that led to him losing a third of his hock.  Vet’s said, repeatedly, that he wouldn’t ever be sound again.  After rehab and astronomical Vet bills his recovery went incredibly well, to the extent that since his recover Christiane has been contacted by Vets to establish how Cadbury is as they’ve rarely had a horse recover from losing so much of the bone and not look back!

Not to be deterred by their past problems this pair set out to make a point in life together and they’ve really nailed that memo!  Cadbury is a small Welsh D but he’s got their very typical lion heart inside and jumping is very much his forte.  Together they’ve tackled some really decent courses and he’s got such a natural style.  It shouldn’t be possible given his injury but it’s never been a problem.

During our chats I never once got the feeling that Christiane was far too gung-ho in life.  She’s just a normal horse loving woman who wasn’t going to let a few ‘things’ get in her way in life.  They’ve made the most of their years together and thank goodness they did.  When marriage to a military man and three beautiful babies came along, the chance to do the same sort of thing she always had with Cadbury was naturally going to lessen a bit.  She’s never stopped riding him, but they’ve been pretty low key for a little while now.

Today Cadbury is 16 and he’s had Cushings for the past 4 years.  They’ve got it under control with brilliant management system and you really wouldn’t know he had it, as he looks seriously fit and well and full of life too.  Many of the typical signs you’d have with Cushings you just can’t see with him and whilst that might change with time, it’s unbelievable at how normal their lives together are.

Our shoot was nearly in jeopardy again that summers evening.  Whilst we were always going to start with a brief session at the yard she keeps Cadbury, the plan has always been to head up to a local country park that’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it’s an Iron Age fort and a working quarry for the renowned local yellow Ham Stone that’s used in some many of the villages for housing.  Unlike many of locations like this, Ham Hill is completely open to the public, to be enjoyed as much as possible by all.  It’s a very popular destination for dog walkers, picnic lovers and ramblers.  It’s also open to horses, which is refreshing.  To get to this amazing venue we needed to box Cadbury up there and a last minute possible issue with the proposed towing vehicle meant I just couldn’t not step in and help.  Ordinarily it’s not my responsibility to get horse and rider to any off site location.  However this shoot was much anticipated and with the prospect of perfect conditions I said I’d tow her up there.

I’m so so pleased we all agreed to this.  Alice, my amazing assistant provided the trailer and continues to defy gravity with her exerts at a shoot whilst being heavily pregnant.  The 3 off us had an amazing experience together and it’s really easy to see just why Christiane’s friends thought she deserved this gift.

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Until next time…

Rachel xx


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