February 2019

I’m back baby! You may have seen I have a new horse from a couple of video’s I’ve posted over the past week, so I’d like to introduce you all to Midget aka Santo Domingo(No I didn’t choose his name, I’m just extremely unlucky in the name department with any horse I have) He is rising 14 year old German Warmblood, out of Sandro Hit,  and has worked up to medium level at home.

We found Midget initially by accident while we were researching trainers and came across his advert on Louis Principes website, but assumed he would be to expensive. The following week we saw his sales advert and he wasnt anywhere near the price we thought he would have been, so decided at such a good price we could overlook the fact that he is older than we normally would consider, plus after speaking to Luis, who he was previously owned by, and based with to be sold, we had no choice but to go and have a look at him, as he sounded perfect for what I needed.

I hate trying new horses, as you never know how they are going to react to the way I have to ride due to my disability, which has meant I have had a few bad experiences in the past, and I have to say I was even more nervous about trying Midget given the fact I hadn’t ridden properly in seven months. I had however been for a lesson on a horse at Levi Hunts yard, and as he was in such close proximity to Louis, we asked him to come and try the horse with us.

It was an extremely surreal experience when we went to see him, as I instantly felt confident around him from the moment I saw him in the stable… It was the same feeling I had with Prince, I knew he would be fine. I was fortunate that Levi was with me at the viewing to get on first and make sure Midget would be suitable for me to get on, and he did a great job of putting me at ease and taking my mind off the fact that I didnt know how Midget would react to me, but needless to say he was absolutely fine.

I genuinely feel that it was the most decisive I’d been in months on the day of the viewing, as soon as I got off I knew we had to snap him up before someone else did. The following week Mark Georgetti from 3 counties equine changed his diary around so he personally could perform the vetting for us, which I am extremely grateful for as I think its really important that a vet knows me, how I ride and what the horse will be expected to do when evaluating its suitability, I often wonder if that had been the case when Bongo was vetted whether his asymmetry would have been brushed off as un important as it was. Needless to say Midget passed the vetting and came straight home with us that same day.

We had been having conversations with Sue Brennan since last October while we were still based with Leonie and trying to formulate a plan to sort Alfie out, but obviously sent Alfie to Henry  because I think we all knew really that Alfie and I were never going to work out.  In the mean time we had kept in touch with Sue, as she and Jade seemed very genuine and keen to help, which is really important as I take up rather a lot of time. So Brennan Equestrian in Kinver is now our new home, with Sue and Jade Clarke.

Obviously not only does it take time to build a relationship with a new horse, but building a relationship as a team also is built over time, so the next month or so will be dedicated to us all getting to know each other, and putting a training system into place so that we can hopefully start going out to compete as soon as we are able.

I’ve learned a lot over past few months whilst I’ve not ridden, the main lesson being that the riding doesn’t define me as a person. I’ve always thought that without it I wouldn’t be me, but that’s not true. Having the time away from it all has really made me evaluate and question a lot of things such as why I even ride at all.

Now obviously, like every other person that rides, the fundamental reason as to why I do it is through the love and enjoyment I have of the sport, and I’m sure you all can relate that when it’s all going well it’s very easy to love the sport and justify the cost it comes at, because it’s not cheap. However when things aren’t going well, it’s really hard not to wonder how much easier life would be without it. This is the predicament I’ve been in for months whilst I’ve been out of it, because I have really contenplated giving it all up, and focusing on a professional career, as I always remember David Hamer saying once to a room full of athletes that realistically speaking, we stood more chance of winning the lottery that actually getting to compete at a Paralympic games.

However I also will never forget something else David Hamer (World Class Cooridinator) told me at a home visit a few years ago when we were having dificulty with Polly;

Times of difficulty sets apart those who quit when the going gets tough, and the people who are resilient enough to work through difficulty to see light at the end of the tunnel. The most resilient people may not have the amount of talent the people who quit have, but they have the determination and drive to become the best, and that makes a medal winning athlete’


Now it’s evident there has been times lately that I’ve been far from resilient, but upon reflection, I really do owe a lot to everyone who has continued to support me through one of the most difficult stages throughout my journey so far! That goes for friends, family, and sponsors. In particular I would like to thank Jo Beavis from the National Saddle Centre, who not only stuck it out with us during some testing times, also went far above and beyond her role as our saddle fitter to advise and help us formulate a plan to deal with Alfie. I would also like to thank the fabulous guys at Bettalife, who never drop there sponsored riders when they are going through a tough time, I was so pleased that they are still willing to supply there joint supplement to us, as we will need to take particular care of Midgets joints with him being that bit older. Without the reassurance and encouragement from all of you, I wouldn’t be in the situation I now find myself in where I’m finaly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and enjoy the one thing I’ve been most passionate about since such a young age.

Just like we have changed our strict criteria on the age of Midget, I’ve also decided to change my values slightly, and do it because it makes me happy first and foremost, Prince made me enjoy riding again, and I felt that I had lost that yet again with Alfie as it wasnt fun, but there is something in Midget that reminds me a lot of Prince.The dream comes as an added bonus if I get there, and I think the fact that I’m not going to stress out about that side of things anymore, will actually enable me to perform better… who knows, my dream may even come true one day, and if not maybe I’ll win the lottery instead.


Ashleigh Jones

Team BETTALife® Sponsored Rider 2017-2019