First time tears of happiness...

"When my parents said I could have a horse of my own, it was the first time I had experienced tears of happiness. Having ridden for seven years, I was not blind to the responsibility that owning a horse would bring, but I did not anticipate what a huge impact Trudy would have in shaping my personality, especially during my teenage years.

"Trudy is a mare with a strong personality (something which has been prevalent since the first day we bought her). I was only 15-years-old at the time and was terrified by her irrational behaviour. Even handling her, never mind the riding part, was quite a challenge and I often questioned whether buying her was the right decision.

"The main problem that we faced was gaining each others trust, as I was an anxious young girl and she knew that. It took a while for me to feel safe within her presence. Persistence was and still is the key to our partnership, which has grown stronger throughout our seven years together. The biggest turning point for us came with the summer weather, as she became more settled and happier in her field when the cold weather lifted and the mud cleared. I also dared to start competing her in local show jumping classes, which proved a massive success and I felt that we both found something we enjoyed and could work at together, putting trust in each other. We have competed in classes up to 3'3" and enjoyed many successes, though competing has always come secondary to her general care and the enjoyment we get from hacking through the Leicestershire countryside.

"My favourite part of owning Trudy is the escapism that she provides from everyday life. From college and university exam stress, to relationship breakdowns, looking after and riding Trudy has always provided an escape and a distraction, whether it's mucking out her stable or being in her saddle. Although a horse will always be an animal of flight and it would not be wise to ride and trust her completely, I have as much faith in her that I could wish to have.

"I am lucky enough to have a horsey mum who helps me look after Trudy, but there is no doubt that owning a horse is a major responsibility and the decision to buy one should not be taken lightly. Aside from the financial commitment, I have to go to the stables everyday and muck out her stable, make sure she's fed and watered- that's before I start to think about riding her.

"You could say that Trudy is the horse version of me, something which is difficult for a 'non-horsey' person to understand. Aside from sharing the same hair colour, we share many personality traits which means that I can relate to her insecurities and give her the reassurance she needs. Nevertheless, we both know our own mind and although sometimes our personalities can clash, we have grown in confidence together."

Words by Emily Wardle.