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My life with horses: an engineer balancing her horse with a hectic work schedule

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Gemma Gilbert - My life with Horses

Join engineer Gemma as she runs through a hectic week balancing work and horses – plus some bonus glamping

Gemma Gilbert is a 23-year-old full-time precision engineer working in the motorsport sector. She lives in Somerset with her partner, James, and enjoys low-level eventing and competing for her Riding Club with 12-year-old skewbald gelding, Conner.


James and I are enjoying a couple of days off to celebrate our anniversary this week, so this morning’s spent walking around Neroche Castle in the rain, which is gorgeous regardless of the weather. We then head down to Dimpsey in Somerset for a night’s glamping. My partner and I are huge camping fans, so this is the perfect way to spend our short celebratory break. Conner’s on part livery due to my work schedule, so I know he’s being well looked after at home. Later on, we enjoy pizza and a spell in the hot tub to unwind – I wish my life was always this glamorous!


A rare lie-in this morning. We have tea in bed and spend a few hours relaxing before heading home a bit before lunch. A quick bite to eat, then James and I decide to make the most of our downtime and head out for a stroll across Exmouth beach, which is pretty quiet today thanks to it blowing a gale! We fit in a very muddy bike ride to make the most of the remaining daylight before retiring for the evening.


I’m up by 6am for a quick shower and breakfast before getting to work for 8am. It’s a busy day catching up after a couple of days’ annual leave, but I’m out of the door at 4:30pm and hurrying to the yard to squeeze in a practice run of our dressage tests ready for the weekend. Conner goes really sweetly and I’m feeling positive. We’re doing two Prelim tests this time, so I’m focusing on keeping him supple and off my leg in canter and soft through transitions, particularly from canter to trot. Then I give Conner a wash off and let him eat his dinner while I bed down his stable – it’s just had its pre-winter clean and paint.


An 8am – 4:30pm workday today, so it’s another 6am start. I’m really lucky to have Conner on part livery, as it really takes the pressure off when things are busy at work. I head home from work for a bike ride before it gets dark, followed by an early night.


I’ve a really busy day today, getting to work early so I can leave in time to rush to the yard for the farrier at 3pm! I have an afternoon of jobs before our dressage lesson under the arena lights at 7:40pm. As well as running through our tests, we’re putting some time into our lateral work to improve Conner’s strength and suppleness to really boost our scores    this winter.


The big day has arrived! We’re not competing until lunchtime, so I spend the morning bathing and plaiting, which inevitably takes ages due to Conner’s white bits! The drive to the venue is about 40 minutes, so we leave with plenty of time, as there’s nothing worse than being late on show day. Unfortunately, our tests didn’t quite go to plan, but it was great to get out competing again and the judge’s comments will give us plenty to work on before next our next competition.


Sunday is a very quiet one after a busy week. We enjoy a lie-in until 9:30am then I head down to the yard to give Conner a quiet hack after his day out yesterday. He’ll have tomorrow off, but I like to see how he feels the day after a show.

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