Hi all, my name is Sarah Charnley and I am a self-proclaimed eventing nut! To earn a crust and pay for my passion, I work full time as a Building Control Surveyor.
I am 55, very soon to be 56 years-young and an extremely keen amateur eventer. Coming from a completely non horsey family, I plagued my parents to ride. At three years old, I apparently toddled off across a road to see the hunt horses at a meet where my father found me up on a horse, in front of the huntsman as they thought this was best place for an unclaimed three-year-old! I screamed and cried when I was removed from the horse and it was after this that I was allowed lessons. I rode family friend’s ponies and basically any horse that needed to be ridden to get a ride. I finally got my own pony at 15, who I brought on and sold before going to University. After University, I worked, travelled and rode overseas, returning to the ‘real world’ to get a permanent job – yawn, yawn! I eventually purchased my own horse again, aged 30 and from there started eventing. Since then, I have volunteered at numerous events, covering every role, together with completing the training for controlling at events in 2014. I had the immense honour of fence judging at the London Olympics, which was just the most fantastic experience. I am currently training to become a British Eventing Steward.
Several horses and years later, I now own a fantastic little mare called Etie (Enjoy II). Now rising nine, I bought her at the end of the 2014 eventing season. She has fantastic paces, a lovely attitude to life and just loves cross country. She has been placed most times out, only failing to do so, when the silly jockey has let her down by missing a fence or just seeing the wrong stride! In our first season together in 2015, we qualified for the National Riding Club Championships and the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at BE90 level. Our first visit to Badminton was in 2016, where I let Etie down in the show jumping, but she was amazing cross country, so lots of positives to take away.
Team work is everything in eventing both between horse and rider, but everyone around you. I have a great partner in Geoff, who is a willing supporter and not only helps at events but also, mucks out, is there for farrier visits, maintains the lorry, cleans, cooks and is someone who stops me getting cranky at events by just making me laugh – as I always joke “everyone should have a Geoffrey!” Friends are always commenting “POOR GEOFFREY”!
Training with Etie for the most part is from Rosalind Canter who is a team gold medallist at the European Championships in 2017. Ros helps me both on the flat and over sticks, but I also use the BE training program. I am very privileged to be part of Ros Canter’s team and groom for Ros regularly at BE events and internationally. In 2016 I was not only taking part in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup, I was also grooming for Ros for the main event, sadly Ros was only able to do the dressage. However, in 2017 Ros and Alby (Allstar B) returned to be the best British rider gaining fifth place. Last year it was so exciting, I was honoured to travel with Team GBR to the Europeans in Poland to look after Ros’s horse Alby. I am extremely fortunate to be able to watch and learn from the best riders in the world!
Etie is kept in tune by the trusted hands of Veterinary Physio Jess Spalding, who comes once a month to give Etie the once over. At the end of last season Etie picked up an injury which initially looked serious like tendon damage, but thankfully after scans it turned out to be swelling of the tendon sheath. Jess came three days a week to laser and ultra sound her leg to reduce the swelling and aid recovery. Friend and equine vet Cath Hill was a huge support with her treatment and recovery programme too.
I look forward to updating you about this more in my next blog.