Occupation: Airline Pilot
Horse’s name, age and breed: Randalstown Guinness (Dougal) 15 year old Irish Sport Horse
Horses history, how did they end up being a superstar TREC horse!
Dougal was bought to be ‘mummy’s safe happy hacker’ when my son was 8 weeks old. I’d gone to look at an experienced show cob, but was offered a quick try on a nameless little dun horse that looked as though he had been put together from leftover parts from about 5 different horses and had a permanently surprised expression on his face, and as soon as he hopped into canter I knew he was the right horse for me. He fulfilled the role of happy hacker for years, and one day we decided to enter a ‘have a go’ TREC competition. We won the class and thought we had better have a go at a proper TREC competition. Since then, we have progressed through the levels up to Level 4 together, and as he has got older and better at TREC he has become a lot more opinionated, and no longer looks surprised all the time! He had a brief career as a novelty racehorse, finishing the 24 mile Man v Horse race in Wales in under 3 hours, and the 4 mile Kiplingcotes Derby in about 11 minutes (the same speed as Grand National runners – but without the hedges!) Dougal thoroughly enjoyed being a racehorse but it was decided it was best all round if he stuck to TREC as racing was far too exciting. He is very recognisable and has got quite a fan club.
How did you get into the sport of TREC?
For years I had competed at county shows in Ridden and Working Hunter classes, but once I had children, I realised I didn’t really have the enthusiasm to keep a big grey horse that liked rolling in mud as clean as a show horse ought to be. I stopped competing for a few years and bought Dougal (who is conveniently mud-coloured) in the meantime. Once the children were both at school I saw an advert for a TREC competition. I knew very little about the practicalities of the sport, but had always fancied having a go. I had a great time and the organisers were so encouraging, I signed up to do another one, and it snowballed from there. Now you’ll find me at as many TREC events as possible, along with my daughter Eleanor who has also got the bug.
What do you love about the sport?
I was intrigued by the idea of orienteering on horseback – navigation forms a big part of my job, and I’ve always had a fascination for maps and adventure. Throw in riding a horse whilst reading a map, and it seemed like the perfect sport for me! It’s brilliant spending a weekend surrounded by people who are as enthusiastic about horses and maps as I am – the people in TREC make it such a welcoming sport.
What is your favourite Phase and why?
The POR, without a doubt. Every single POR is different, and can throw up a lot of different challenges. I really enjoy being out on my own, just me and my horse, using my brain to try and work out how to face the current challenge and my horse’s kind nature and stamina to carry us through it. Every now and then a new kind of navigational challenge I haven’t seen before takes me by surprise, and it’s good fun trying to work it out.
What advice would you give some one wanting to get into the sport?
Don’t be scared to give it a go. I hear a lot of people saying they would love to do it but are worried their map reading isn’t up to the standard, or their horse is not brave cross country. You can ride as a pair while you learn how the POR section works and if you don’t fancy an obstacle on the PTV you don’t have to do it. You’ll soon learn how it all works and everyone is keen to help a newcomer out. You’ll make a lot of new friends through TREC!
And the one moment of TREC you will never forget!
I have a lot of very memorable moments! So,s I’m going to choose two. One that really sticks in my mind is riding along the top of Rhossili Down in torrential rain and 50mph winds wearing every article of clothing I’d brought with me and still not being warm enough. It had been the second hottest day on record the day before! For better reasons the other memorable moment is winning the Level 1 Pairs championship with my daughter. She was only 11 years old and a complete novice. It was a different sort of challenge for me to teach TREC to a child and it was a hugely enjoyable achievement to share that win with her and start her on the