My Life In Horses


Horses have always been a huge part of my life.

Of course, there must have been a time when that was not the case.

But I can’t remember the moment when my very young self discovered a passion for all things equestrian. I just have always loved horses.

Perhaps it was in my blood. My grandpa Roberts adored horses, too.

He cared for the coal horses in Portobello, near Edinburgh, and my mum remembers sitting on their broad backs as they waded into the sea to wash off the coal dust.

Childhood holidays were spent in Middleham in Yorkshire, where there was the thrill of hearing hooves on cobbles early every morning.

If I leapt out of bed quickly enough I could reach the window in time to see the string of racehorses making their way up to the gallops on the moor.

Even better, Grandpa knew lots of the stable lads. One of them, long moved on by the time I was around, was Davy Jones of “The Monkees” fame.

Grandpa’s contacts meant we could visit the racing yards and spend time with the gleaming thoroughbreds. At one of the stables, the trainer’s daughter had a grey pony called Toppy, which we were allowed to ride. Such a treat.

A pony of my own

Inevitably, I wanted a pony of my own. But we lived in Edinburgh at the time and it wasn’t an option.

Instead, I went for riding lessons to Silverknowes Riding School. Small for my age, I wasn’t considered old enough to start learning till I was seven.

I remember feeling very honoured to be allowed to ride Bramble, a tiny black pony who was recovering from injury, because I was the lightest and smallest child on the books!

I devoured every pony novel I could lay my hands on, went to “pony camps” at the riding school in the holidays and made our poor dogs play horses for hours on end.

Then, when I was thirteen, my parents decided to move out of the city. Our new house would have space for a pony. My excitement was indescribable.

I was told very firmly that the pony would be entirely my responsibility. I would have to do all the work of caring for it myself. To be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Many adventures

The day we welcomed Syani, a five-year-old Connemara pony, home was one of the happiest of my life. She and I grew up together and had many adventures.

She was with me for the rest of her life, till she passed away aged almost thirty.

There have been several horses over the years.

Rona, the beautiful bay mare I would have trusted with my life.

Tiger, the cheeky pony whose escaping antics made Houdini look like an amateur.

Summer, my gorgeous golden girl taken much too soon.

All of them have brought me both joy and heartache. Loving horses is not always easy.

These days, my equestrian best friend is a Highland pony called Texa. She has a big personality and isn’t shy of letting me know her opinions! She is also gentle and kind and funny – yes, horses definitely have a sense of humour!

I can’t imagine a life without horses.

For more from the “Friend” team, click here.

Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.