Meet Liz Beddows – A Rider With A Passion For Training And Trec

Autumn 2023 – pg.10

Liz Beddows, aged 64, clives in South Oxfordshire near Henley-on-Thames with her husband Simon. They both ride, although Simon now favours dingy sailing when he has time. Their two children also ride, and with her daughter’s children now on horseback too. Last October all three generations competed successfully together in a TREC competition aged from 6 to 63!

“My proudest achievement has been training Rose to a be a winning TREC horse.”

I grew up in the middle of Bristol, my parents were shopkeepers and not horsey at all. It all started when I was 11 and Mum and I went on holiday to Wales to stay with a friend of hers and go pony trekking. Sadly, the Welsh weather did its worst and I never got on a pony, so when we returned, Mum arranged for me to go to a local riding school. In those days, the highlight at the end of the day was riding the ponies bareback in headcollars, leading one or two as well, up to the fields.

I was lucky enough to get my first pony, Toby when I was 12, then a 15hh cob Breeze when I was 15. I did Pony Club and local shows, most of which we hacked to, or else 5 or 6 of us would get together and go in a cattle lorry traveling in the luton and nagging the driver to stop for chips on the way home!

After I left home at 18 to go to college and work, I didn’t get to ride much again until my daughter, Rebecca had a pony big enough for me to share.

I have been an IH member for around 16 years and first got involved when Sandra Williams came to help us with my son’s pony, Digby, who was a bit tricky. He turned into a super jumping pony and is still with us enjoying a long retirement. Around that time, I went to my first Monty Demo and then was a helper for several years. I loved watching him assess the horses that were brought in; sometimes it was really a human issue, not the horse at all! I really appreciate being part of the IH family. If you post a question or problem, you know you’ll get sensible, workable, and horse-friendly ideas to help you solve it.

I did the Perfect Manners course in 2009 and went on to do the Horse Psychology, Five Day Foundation, Feeding & Leading & Loading courses. They were all great and really started me on my path of ‘other’ ways to do things from the ‘traditional’ methods I’d been taught as a teenager. I like to think I look for reasons and solutions to problems now and not quick fixes.

In recent years I have ridden Polly, Rose, and Ciara. Polly was bought as a mother/daughter share in 2004 and was probably ¾ TB ¼ Welsh – full of fun and 100% opinionated! She loved hunting and excelled at XC with Rebecca. It was Polly who first took me to TREC in 2008, in woods in Surrey in a thunderstorm. I think we were out about 4 hours but did find our way back after everyone else, except the organizers had gone home… However, I persevered as I wanted a sport for me to do, not just being the groom for the rest of the family, and I didn’t like dressage or jumping much, so I gradually mastered the art of map reading!

We bought Rose in 2007. She’d been a broodmare in France and basically just been taught to hack in a straight line. My husband took her XC, which she loved, and Rebecca joined me in TREC. We competed as a pair for a few years, and I swapped onto Rose as Rebecca really preferred Polly, who was more whizzy, and I decided Rose’s sedate paces were more for me. Rose and I went to Devon, Norfolk, Kent, West Wales, Scotland, and everywhere in between. TREC is a great way to see the country! She has won 3 Championships at Level 2A, the middle level in TREC, and been the horse of a lifetime. She is 25 now, still hacking and doing fun rides and the occasional lower-level event escorting newbies to the sport.

With Rose hanging up her saddle bags I needed a new TREC horse, so in November 2021, I bought Ciara unseen (horrors!) from Ireland, after many fruitless trips to see horses all over the country. While basically a nice horse, Ciara came with issues which we have been working through for the last 18 months. I wanted to start off on the right foot so we did the IH Standard Award, but the puppy ate the rosette before I could send in a photo! IH Trainer Cyndie Gould has been great with her help and support, and I’ve now at last found a riding instructor who will suit us, so I’m hopeful for our future.

TREC is my passion, and I first found out about it when the local riding club did a fun event. I’ve now been competing for 15 years and have qualified as a judge and TD (Technical Delegate, who oversees competitions). Rebecca and I thought it might be fun to run an event in 2012. As I thought people might like to know what it was about beforehand and with a background in teaching, we ran some training events which have grown year on year. I take TREC to local riding clubs and yards as well as using two lovely venues near me. My IH training has been central in how I train TREC, breaking down the skills needed to help horse and rider understand and tackle obstacles confidently.

TREC is an all-round test of horse and rider and a fun, friendly sport where you get to ride in places not normally accessible. Summer TRECs mostly take place over a weekend, and it’s the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your horse and friends. TREC teaches you both to think, problem-solve, and grow in confidence and partnership while enjoying some wonderful scenery. All types of horses and ponies take part and can do well. You don’t have to look pretty, ride in an outline or jump. You can compete on your own or as a pair, and at the first level, L1, the map reading is straightforward and the route is a maximum of 15km long. At L4, the orienteering is longer and more testing, ideal for those who like a challenge! It’s a very user-friendly sport, you can ride in almost any sort of tack, shod, booted, or barefoot. You can choose not to do an obstacle, for example, if you don’t jump or your horse doesn’t like something, as long as you stop and tell the judge. There is lots of information on the TREC GB website and details of local clubs.

A highlight was in 2014 when Kelly agreed to commentate for a TREC demo I arranged in the main ring at The Henley Show. I had a selection of horses and ponies from a Shetland with a young rider to a cob, Highland, Connemara, and TB. The crowd roared when the Shetland cantered some of the obstacles led by Granny!

My proudest achievement has been training Rose, who could barely canter in a straight line when we got her, to be a winning TREC horse. My next goals are to train Ciara to be a useful TREC horse, work up the levels, and enjoy her. Cyndie tells me ‘Horses are sent to us for a reason,’ and this one is teaching me so much.

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