Shared by Suzie Roberts

After not owning a horse for over 25 years due to getting married and having a family, I decided I would take up my beloved passion again and try to find a project horse (not sure I gave that much thought at the time)!

Growing up I always had 13.2hh quiet all-rounder ponies but always wanted a big bay thoroughbred with a white blaze and socks. At the age of 48 that dream came true when I was offered 3 ½  year old Cleopatras Secret (Cleo).  Liv Carr is the daughter of one of my school friends who was working with Cleo at McShanes Stables in Broadmarsh and she thoroughly enjoyed working with Cleo, saying she was a ‘hop on hop off’ kind of girl. The first time I met Cleo I fell instantly in love and couldn’t wait for her racing career to be over. Cleo only raced 4 times with $0 prize money and liked to finish well towards the back of the field.  (I can see why as –  these days she definitely has more woah than go).

On May 27th 2021 I picked up my forever horse and our journey began. Cleo was spelled for around 5 months and in this time she proved to be fairly quiet but also seemed super sensitive and over-reactive with many things. I now put that down to me not returning to riding as a confident handler and she wanted me to be in control of her not the other way around.  I now know that taking on an OTTB shouldn’t be taken lightly and without the right help, it could become quite dangerous.   In October 2021 Cleo went to Pip Godfrey’s for 4 weeks of re-education which was very beneficial for both of us. Pip was the perfect start for us both and I will be forever grateful for her care and guidance. Cleo was showing signs of being weak in her hind end so we had x-rays to rule out anything major and she has had regular massages from Sarra Avery which have helped her body too. Thankfully Cleo just needed to get stronger in her hind end which took some time.

I started to expose Cleo to the odd Clinic at different environments from June 2022, which she has taken all in her stride.  Her moments of being anxious are becoming less and she seems to be able to manager her anxiety more quickly than 12 months ago.  We have worked a lot with our groundwork manners which helped with trusting each other more.  For the past 8 months we have agisted and been under the watchful eye of Mykaela Peterson, for which I feel so lucky.   From our first lesson I knew that Cleo and I were in good hands. Mykaela is very professional and experienced. Cleo and I have improved under saddle so much in the past 8 months. Cleo is getting stronger by the month and understanding what we are asking of her.  I’m excited to see how much our partnership will improve in the future (even at my age).

A lot of people ask me what discipline are we wanting to do.  At the end of the day I will do whatever makes Cleo happy. She does love getting out and about on trails and to the beach but she also shows that she enjoys a little jump here and there. We are currently members of Monmouth Adult Riding Club which we both thoroughly enjoy and we also go to regular clinics. I have taken Cleo to two small gymkhanas and she has come home with multiple ribbons in the novice classes including 3 champion ribbons. We have a goal to attend a few dressage training days later in the year but for now I’m just so happy that she has finally got her person who loves her immensely and no matter what she will always be my forever horse.

Our journey has been challenging at times (mostly due to my own self and possibly taking on a younger horse than I should have) but Cleo has made the journey so rewarding.  She gives her heart to everything we do, even on the days she brings out her attitude. I love her quirky side and wouldn’t change her at all.  I am so proud of giving her a second chance.  OTTTB’s are so versatile and loving. I never knew what I was letting myself in for and I am so lucky to have an amazing village of people who are supporting us on this amazing journey. Cleo has taught me that patience, persistence and hard work does have its rewards. Cleo is definitely that forever-heart horse that I will never let go.