How can one little horse make all your dreams come true?
By Rebecca Murch
In July 2020, I received a call from a friend asking if I wanted to have a ride aboard her new RoR. Having always ridden show cobs and natives it was fair to say I am not the bravest of riders. So when I turned up to her yard and was presented with a 16.3hh bay thoroughbred that had just come off the track, I asked the question, “is he safe?”
Nevertheless, I climbed on board and as soon as I sat in the saddle I felt safe. I am sure many of you can agree, this is a priceless feeling for so many riders and this was my first introduction to a former racehorse and to the man himself The Groovy Hoovy.
I had not been riding him for more than a few weeks at this point when I found a lump in my breast. I was referred to Broomfield Hospital and it was a long two weeks wait to find out if it was Cancer. I remember the day as clear as anything getting told “Rebecca, unfortunately it is Cancer”. The appointment was a blur but then I had to digest the treatment plan ahead. I underwent surgery to remove the lump, IVF, chemotherapy, two lots of sepsis and radio therapy to finish, all during the Covid-19 pandemic. I remember the days after, as crazy as it sounds, asking “can I still ride during treatment?” Horses have always been my escape and I knew I would need this more than ever now.
No one will ever know what that big bay horse did for me on my darkest days, chemotherapy is poison let’s face it. You feel weak, sick, unbalanced, pain and that’s just a small fraction of it but, the main thing is you feel like you lose your identity. I felt like I was losing everything but Groovy looked after me and I am sure he understood, if I had just twenty minutes sitting onboard him, I felt like I had achieved something in my day.
My chemotherapy thankfully finished in February 2021 and then Lucy his owner said “right let’s get some shows booked, you two can get to Horse of The Year”, I was thinking, you’re crazy. Our first show was at Brook Farm Equestrian Centre and Groovy looked the part despite not standing still. However, we managed to get our ticket to qualify for the RoR Tattersalls Amateur Ridden Series Final at Hickstead.
From there, the goal was to take him to more parties to get him used to the atmosphere and not thinking he was going racing. Every show he got better and better and we felt, at Hickstead, we should be able to keep our cool and not disgrace ourselves.
The class was big but we were there to enjoy ourselves and were just so proud we had got there. After the go round, we didn’t get pulled in but that didn’t matter, he gave the ride judge a lovely ride so were really happy, but to our disbelief he then got pulled in fourth place meaning he was making it to the championship in the main arena. To ride in the main arena at Hickstead and gallop upon the hallowed turf felt amazing and I never ever imagined I would get that opportunity and to do it with my best friend Groovy.
Next stop was Royal Windsor Horse Show, unbelievable, and we finished fifth in a massive national hunt section. Our last goal on the agenda was to give Search for a Star ago. We entered six times and qualified on the last and final attempt, it wasn’t easy and we had a few days when we all said “why are we doing this?” Never mind our bank accounts emptying we kept going and thank god we did.
I’m writing my story as I want to give people hope that anything is possible if you work hard and are determined. I could not have done any of this without Groovy, the racehorse that Lucy purchased for a client at the sales in December 2019, he was the last lot of the day. Fortunately, the client thought he was too big for her daughter and asked Lucy to take him back. I think these horses have a funny way of finding us.
I said to Lucy I have three aims for this year, Qualify for Hickstead, get placed at Royal Windsor and qualify for Horse of The Year.
It seems dreams really do come true!
RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.
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