With a combined age of 98, Fiona Burns and her horse Loumic King of May (Tim) have a lot of ‘equine’ experience between them but whilst their eventing days are over, they are still finding other innovative ways to compete. We caught up with Fiona to find out more about her partnership with Tim, competing and her tips for keeping him feeling tip top too...
When did you start riding and how did you get involved with horses?
I was aged 10 when I first rode, if you could call it “riding”. A friend dragged me along to our local riding school. In the 50’s there was no such thing as Health and Safety. I was taken on a hack wearing a dress, sandals and no hat. I can only remember bouncing about on the ponies back, but I then had the bug. Of course my mum then had to buy me the full outfit.
What has been your greatest achievement with horses?
I can’t say I have done anything earth shattering with horses, I was part of a show jumping team at Riding club level and I have been placed a few times in dressage. Whilst not achieving anything to set the world on fire I did have one funny incident. I was competing at a one day event (riding club level). I was in the lead after the dressage and show jumping. I went clear cross country and then did something I have always wanted to do. I stood in my stirrups as I went through the finish, punching the air, only to hear it announced that I was eliminated for missing a fence.
Which is your favourite SPILLERS feed?
Tell us a little about your current horse.
Tim is a thoroughbred and is 24 years old. He did dressage and then went eventing with a well know event rider, who said Tim’s heart was not in eventing so he went back to doing dressage. Some days he forgets he is 24 and thinks he is a 3 year old.
I have a vet physio to check his back twice a year and after his visits, Tim feels like he is ready for the Olympics.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your equine career?
The biggest influence has been my trainer, Kathryn Edwards. Tim has never been the easiest horse to ride, but Kath is always there to offer advice and encouragement. Sometimes she has had to give me a gentle nudge out of my ‘comfort zone’. Kath’s son, Ben Edwards, is a 3* eventer and when he is not working with either Paul Tapner, or Holly Woodhead he will school my horse.
Tell us about competing on veteran teams and how did you get involved with that?
I don’t have any horse transport, so I was delighted when Dressage Anywhere (an offshoot of British Dressage) set up online dressage. You are subject to all the usual dressage rules, but you can have someone video you at home and you upload the video to the Dressage Anywhere website. I have been competing with them since 2002, but they have recently started classes for veteran horses and this suits us admirably.
You and your horse have an incredible combined age of 98 yrs, what is your secret?
As far as my horse is concerned, it’s a healthy diet (SPILLERS, of course) with succulents i.e. carrots and apples together with a good joint supplement. I’m not sure about myself? I do try to eat healthily, but I have a glass of wine every night and I can’t resist chocolate.
What tips do you have for keeping senior horses feeling young?
- Make sure they are on the correct diet, if in doubt contact SPILLERS
- Ensure you are always aware of their weight, are they losing/gaining too much weight.
- Older horses may need a joint supplement.
- Don’t leave them in a stable 24/7. It is good to give them turnout then they don’t stiffen up.
- Be aware of their capabilities in relation to their age i.e. like us as they get older they need longer time to warm up and forget about team chasing, or 3 day events.
Any other information you think the SPILLERS readers/users will find interesting?
We all know that keeping horses is an expensive hobby. Whatever you are doing with your horse, if you are a happy hacker, or an avid competitor, enjoy yourself. That’s what it’s all about.