My interest in animals began as a child when we always had pet dogs.
My first memory was of our crossbred dog called Ricky who was totally mad.
Later we got Shelley, a golden Labrador who was such fun and adored everyone. She had a mind of her own and would only do what she wanted to do unless treats were involved.
Her party trick was to balance a treat on each paw whilst laying down. She would not take it until told. One day my old nan put the treats on her paws, then left her to answer the phone. She came back ten minutes later to find Shelley soaked with dribble but she had not touched the treats � What a good girl!
I then moved on to horses and was a horse mad teenager. I spent every spare minute at the riding stables helping out and got my first pony at 13, a mare called Superstar. I then got Pip, a grey gelding who was very skittish but really loving. These ponies were on loan and were kept at Heron Stream Stud, an Arab stud that had around 50 horses.
My parents bought me a hunter when I was 16 years old. She was a 5 yr old chestnut mare who was very temperamental but a great jumper, called Teisha, who I kept for over 20 years through to her death aged 27. ( I rode her right up to the end).
I stayed at the stud after leaving school to train for my stud assistant exams which included breaking and schooling, show production, breeding and stud management. I then passed my British Horse Society Instructors exams, BHS stage 1, 2 and 3 and my pony club B test.
These exams and training helped to give me an eye for confirmation and movement, that is very similar in dogs.
With these qualifications I went to work for the Courtaulds in Halstead, Essex.
Mrs Courtauld had a stud with over 60 ponies and I was head girl. I am only small and in those days very lightweight, ideal for breaking in the ponies. I went to some lovely shows with the ponies and I have some pictures showing some of her lovely ponies who went on to great success. I had a great time living there for 2 years.
I then moved nearer to home and started a riding school in Chelmsford with 14 horses. I started to hunt and event at the same time but later had a nasty fall, which gave me a bad back, so I had to give up the riding school. When I had my first daughter, I put my mare in foal to a handsome thoroughbred stallion and she had a filly called High Time. I named her this because she kept going in to labour, then stopping for over a week. The reason for this was she did not want to give birth in a foaling box as she wanted her old stable. Every time I put her back during the day, she would go into labour, so I moved her to the bigger box. She caught me out when I went in to get a cup of tea. I came back out and she had given birth before I could put her in the foaling box. This little wet face was peering over the door, whilst Teisha was flat out, exhausted on the ground.
I kept High Time until she was nearly three but with a toddler and a baby I did not have the time or facilities to break her in, so I sold her to a lovely home where she reached intermediate level in eventing but she sadly broke her leg aged 6 in an accident and she had to be put down. Her owner was devastated.
I could not give up my lovely mare Teisha though, and continued to compete in smaller shows and did many charity long distance rides, the last of which Teisha was 21 yrs old. I loved my mare and would never replace her so gave up riding when she died. My love of animals and competing moved to a new area � dog showing � and the rest is history !
My career has taken a new path nowadays.
I took over a garden building business with a 20 yr history when the previous owners retired. This now takes up most of my time, often working seven days a week, as the show site is on my fathers garden centre that is open every day. This means I have had to cut back lately on the amount of dog shows I can attend.
We can supply any type of garden building from log cabins, summerhouses, home offices, kennels, indoor barbeque cabins, sheds, chicken coops and rabbit hutches.
Please look at our link to ' Harveys Garden Buildings'.
The dogs come to work with me every day and spend half their time in my office, or sunning themselves in their purpose made kennel outside, when the weather is good.
In the evening they come home and watch TV in the lounge (Its a dogs life!)