Words and photography by Clair Young
HT Cecilia was bought as a foal from Mrs Woodward at High Tor Stud. She is by RA Scimitar (Imperial Imdal x Imperial Oreeyah), and out of Camela (Ghadames x Corona). We wanted a horse that would be quiet and 100% reliable for my mum to ride. We knew the dam line to be just that, as Camela was at the Maxwells’ when I worked there and she was ridden by their grandchildren. We had also had Coronel (Cala d’or x Corona), who was bred by the Maxwells, on loan for a few years previously, and my sister and cousins all learned to ride on him. I don’t think he knew he was entire and for three years he was their Pony Club horse in the days when Pony Club didn’t mind stallions. So when Cecilia was offered to us, we could not believe our luck. We had always wanted a horse with High Tor bloodlines as well, and so ‘Cec’ joined the Young family in North Wales.
Cecilia started her career in dressage. We dabbled in ridden showing early on with some success too. Her first show was a ‘C’ show, where she won the novice ridden. But, showing wasn’t really our bag. I prefer the technicality and training involved in dressage and as Cecilia is very biddable, with a steady temperament, we embarked on a dressage career. Over the years, she has won many competitions and could be relied upon to bring home the silverware, topping league tables, and winning countless highest percentage on the day/year and highest placed mare awards. I can honestly say that I have had endless fun competing her in open company and against specialist dressage breeds.
In her late teens, I retired Cec from competition, but as she has had a brush with laminitis in the past, I felt that she still needed to be doing something. One thing I have always wanted to do is have a go at carriage driving. Cecilia, with her honest and amiable temperament, was the obvious choice for my first attempt. So after much scouring on the internet, a training cart and harness were soon acquired.
The first step was to learn how to put on the harness. Cecilia patiently waited while much debate went on as to how. I did get better at it after a few sessions. Once proficiency was achieved, and with my Idiots Guide to Carriage Driving to hand, Cec was put between the shafts and we have never looked back!
It has been a learning curve for both of us, and Cecilia seems to be relishing her new career. Most days last summer were spent with family excursions around the country lanes, dogs in tow, hopping on the cart whenever they got weary. I often drive to my local village for a bit of shopping and have been known to drive around the fields checking on my sheep. We plan to do more again this year, perhaps competing at the odd show, and we have joined our local driving club, although I do not think Cecilia is quite up for driving trials!
The fact that a complete novice such as myself could take up driving is testament to the intelligence and temperament that Arabians are known for and Cecilia has more than proven their sheer versatility.