Horses have always been an important part of my life. I started riding at about 6. My first pony was Shadow (bay pony mare). I spent all the daylight hours with her, and developed the kind of relationship where I would think it and she would do it. I was lucky enough to have her with me until my mid-thirties. Sadly we lost her in 2007 during the Pasha Baulka weekend storms. She was in her late thirties.
In the early 2000s I wrote a series of five pony books for (then) Random House, which were inspired by that time in my life where Shadow was the best part of every day.
Here are links to further information about those books:
Since then I've been lucky to have over 20 horses. We currently have 7. We interchange them across our 2 properties in Milbrodale and Nulkaba.
Istana Kazrah - chestnut Crabbet arab mare
When I first saw Kazrah I thought she was the most beautiful horse I'd ever seen. A family friend had an agistment property and Kaz had been left there. The owner had stopped paying agistment and disappeared. She had a tendency to laminitis (which is a hoof problem). I offered to take her on. Finding natural, sustainable solutions to Kazrah's soundness was where I began my journey with hoofcare.
In 2002 I was living in Frenches Forest and I kept Kaz and Shadow at Terrey Hills. I was writing full time, researching about laminitis and barefoot hoofcare, and riding every day.
I took Kaz to the local shows where she picked up lots of champion ribbons.
While my children were small, Kaz was a school pony at a local riding school, but now she is retired. She's 31.
Greenbrook Elizabeth - grey Welsh mare
I saw Ilu in the $1000 and under section of horse deals in 2004. I bought her site unseen for $300 because her Grandsire was Keston Royal Occasion -"Perhaps the most preeminent sire in the history of Welsh and Riding Ponies in Britain and Australia", and out of Wingana Well To Do. I figured I could breed from her if I didn't ride her, and I have. She is the dam of Peekaboo.
When I bought her she was a 3-year-old, bought as as yearling by a lady who was allergic to horses, and so she had pretty much been completely isolated from horses and people since weaning. As a result she's a bit of a weirdo, which is why I called her Independent Little Unit (ILU). She is still odd. Peekaboo adores her, but she just rolls her eyes.
Bones - black stock horse mare
I saw Bones in the Trading Post and went to have a look at her. She was in terrible condition - hence the name.
At the time I had achieved quite a bit of success returning soundness to horses that were deemed 'incurable', or 'unridable' with founder, navicular syndrome, club feet and other lamenesses. I could see that she wasn't sound but I bought her anyway, thinking that I could fix it.
As it turns out she had had a bad injury, fracturing her ilium (hip) sometime before I bought her. While she lives quite comfortably, she was never going to be a competition prospect. It was a very good lesson in humility about what I could fix and what I couldn't.
Bones is the sweetest of the mares and has spent her life as a paddock ornament and companion.
Rose - leopard spot appaloosa mare
Rose belonged to a client. She had come with the property because the previous owners couldn't get her on a truck. She had brought in many 'breakers', and tried lots of 'tough love' to no avail. She dumped everyone.
She was chronically lame and lived with a lot of pain. I knew when I met her that she was my horse, the same way that I knew with Kazrah. When the owner decided to put her down, I offered to take her.
I put her in a paddock, where she lay down and wouldn't get up, so I put Peekaboo in with her, and he annoyed her until she got up to get away from him. Recovery was pretty rapid with a simple diet, regular hoofcare and Peekaboo making her move around.
Once she was not in pain she ended up being the best horse I have ever ridden and the best and most trusted kids pony.
Her vision is too poor now to ride, but she's probably the best and most useful pony I've ever had. I would buy another appaloosa in a heartbeat.
Aims - grey thoroughbred x Welsh mare
Aims was another client's horse. He was an elderly gentleman, and being a young, energetic horse, Aims was a bit too much for him. I thought she was gorgeous from the moment I met her, so I was happy to take her when he said he wanted to move her on. She has a tendency to throw in a bit of a pigroot, but mostly it's joy.
Aims is incredible versatile. I take her to the beach and on trails. She is a bit of a Miss and is the boss horse in the paddock, and always the leader on trails, but she is an absolute pleasure and I enjoy taking her out.
Buttercup - palomino riding pony mare
Buttercup is the dream pony. She is immaculately educated and I think if my daughter fell off, Buttercup would carry on and win on her own. She is the perfect model for the Sound Advice horse gear and I use her all the time for that.
She is a sweetie who loves people and she's always trying to come into the house. She does suffer from chronic laminitis, which is takes constant vigilance to manage and that's the reason we have her. She belonged to a friend who didn't have the facilities to make sure she stayed sound.
I only wish she was bigger so that I could ride her myself! I feel very lucky that we have had this perfect pony in our family.
Peekaboo - grey Welsh gelding
Last but definitely not least is Peekaboo. I bred this pony in 2007 when I was pregnant with my first son, out of Ilu, from Wingana Gideon, who was then standing on the Central Coast. I backed him at 2 and then again at 3, and I don't think anyone else has ever ridden him.
I take him out once a week on trails and he is so much fun. He takes everything in his stride. He loves people and he's very cheeky.
I bred the perfect pony for myself and he is one of the great loves of my life.