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In between parties...

Even disco divas have other interests, I choose to fill some of my downtime with voluntary work for the British Horse Society. I have so much to be grateful for, since joining the Society in c.1995 and embarking on the qualifications which have enabled my coaching career. The Society provides my business with a network of approved, accredited, professional coaches. For me, that's about quality assurance and providing "best-in-class" coaches for our events.

I am on our local BHS Committee here in North West Kent and my particular interest is access. This means working to improve the network of Public Rights of Way available to equestrians and consulting on local plans in terms of the effect they might have on our community.

Here is a bit more about it...

I am a Volunteer British Horse Society Access and Bridleways Officer for Tunbridge Wells Borough. That is rather a lot of information to process, so to explain a bit better…

I am a lifelong horse enthusiast, having experienced riding for the first time at a friend’s 10th birthday party and truly getting the bug. The first pony I loved was an elderly chestnut wonderfulness named Ginger.

My family and I lived in surburban Walderslade in Medway, so riding school lessons were the route to learning for me and I was very lucky to have family support which enabled this. My sisters and I, in fact our whole family at one time, progressed to having many lessons at Rooting Street Farm in Pluckley in East Kent. We had a succession of beautiful ponies on loan and many smiles, tears and bumps ensued.

My Godfather Tim, also a lifelong horse enthusiast, bought a characterful 4 year old Welsh Cob x Connemara horse when I was 16, who he owned until just before I went off to University.

I thought that might be the end of my riding life, but no, I discovered that the University had a flourishing riding club and I quickly became involved on the Committee and captained the A team.

Having graduated, I moved to London and started work in a media agency. Quickly growing despondent at office life, I plotted my escape to the country, taking British Horse Society qualifications by studying, riding and eventually coaching at the weekends.

At a crossroads in my mid-twenties, I opted to go deep into Northamptonshire countryside for a fully immersive training job at Brampton Stables. Ireland was next, followed by a retreat back to Kent when I became very homesick. I had some truly brilliant experiences along the way, including riding to sell at Goresbridge Horse Sales which was epic.

Fast forward to 2023, I am married with two young children. Volunteering for the British Horse Society (which I have done for 10 years), has given me so much while I’ve been hopefully helping others. I am part of a team, working for improvement for others. It is incredibly rewarding, although hard at times. Access work (improving routes) for equestrians can feel like an uphill struggle, with road safety concerns and a backdrop of diminishing equestrian centres.

Here in Tunbridge Wells, we are not blessed with a good bridleways network (save for a few areas). There are routes, but they do not join up. There is work to be done.

We do have beautiful Commons and Greens.

Over the next few months, I am going to write about some of the different aspects of the work I am doing in the Borough, from planning consultation, to gate improvements, to legal applications for paths and other things that I’m sure will crop up.

If you have any thoughts in response to anything I mention, please do get in touch:

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Great post. I am always apprehensive when I see riders, cyclists and walkers on the roads that are shared with cars. I think there should be far more public information put about in social media and in public media spaces by councils and government ministries. I think we have lost touch with each other in the sharing of highways and byways. We need this sort of work like yours to increase awareness. Could do with some 'big' guns in popular media to get on board to help the campaign.

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yes agree. The Dead Slow campaign by the BHS is good, more mainstream cut through is needed to educate. Off road riding routes with multi user (non motorised) paths are so important to preserve and add.

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