Here at Equine Superstore we have a team of featured riders. Our featured riders are a key part of our brand, helping us to give you trusted reviews and an inside insight into the lives of other riders. The partnerships we form with our featured riders give us great content and give them great support, products and promotion!
Recently we began the search for our next featured rider and that’s how we found Josephine! We really hope you’ll love her as much as we do! Read all about her in our latest Q&A:
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Josephine Manning, I’m 28 years old and I am your typical working class equestrian. We have a small yard where we have 13 horses alongside a herd of goats, a sounder of swines, flapping chickens, ducks, rabbits, cats.. you get the gist. Furthermore I have two mares of my own and a stinky little Shi Tzu cross called Monster. Who is clipped like a lion. I am the epitome of your slightly mad working country girl. I fractured two vertebrae beginning of Feb and as such, am on the dogged and determined road back to the saddle to compete by May.
How did you first get into riding?
I actually come from a very non horsey family. Aside from a few lessons at Talland when I was very young, I didn’t get involved with horses truly until I was 16. Plonked in front of Chrissie, the first pony of my Best Friend (Jen), I whiled away hours chatting to her with a mud scraper to try to control her cushings hair, deftly avoiding her teeth. I was later told her nickname was Gnasher. Well into her 30’s she’s still alive and to date has a few trophies to her name with parts of people’s bodies she has passionately bitten. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she started to lose her teeth. I first started to ride Flo, the second pony where I would wiggle like a puppy inside when I was told that I had the body of a natural rider. Can I just hasten to add that having the body of a natural rider does not actually make you a natural rider. It just means you are tall and have long legs. But still. Nothing was watering down my fire at that age.
Do you have any riding icons?
I don’t as such have any riding icons. Of course it’s easy to admire top riders and dream the dreams. Although I fancy myself as an eventer, I absolutely love watching Guy Williams. Christ he can do a jump off. It’s like watching a grown professional doing pony club. I love it! But I’m digressing, I have two equestrian icons in my life. The first is Ang. She’s my second mother (mum to Jen) and the whole reason why I am horsey. She changed my life forever that day she planted me in front of Chrissie and it was her that told me I had a body for riding that day I first rode Flo on the lunge with her. Without her none of it would be possible and she’s always that constant in my life. The second is Polly Williamson. A top eventer who has won medals for this country – if you don’t know who she is, look her up! She is my instructor and guide and really, the first instructor that just ‘gets’ me and Libby. She’s so patient and I can only but admire her following her injury and her fight back to life. She is one of few that truly believes I have a talented mare and that accounted for a lot. Really, I could have no better mentor following my own injury. I trust every word that comes out of her mouth and she’s never let me down. Plus when someone has reached the heady heights that she has, if she says kick… then kick!
Tell us about your horse:
Bella: 14.2 18 year old Dun Welsh Section D Mare by the famous Hendrewen Deryn. The love of my life. My soul sister. My pea in a pod. My once in a life time horse. If she were to be a person she would be Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. All sass, junk in the trunk, beautiful and bright gold yet wouldn’t be afraid to fart in front of a first date. Spent our days dominating unaffiliated show jumping up to 3’6. Flew around Team chasing cackling like we had a screw loose. Best friends with Jens old mare Millie. Has been taken with chestnut mares ever since so is a heartbreaker for any boys on the yard. Total flirt though. Introduced me to showing (Not boring if you win apparently?!) and in the 10 years I’ve had her I’ve never fallen off. She was kindly gifted to me from a livery owner at a yard that I worked at when I left. We were such a pair together and I was devastated to be parted from her and so Mandy gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever had. My first pony. 4 years ago she developed ringbone and it was career over. She had a cast on last year through my amazing vets and now has a fused pastern joint. She moves a bit different now that it’s changed mechanically but she’s now able to be ridden again. Embarrassingly, there were a lot of tears that day I sat back on her again.
Liberty/Libby/TheSheWitch/The Libster/Lib Lob: 15.1 10 year old Bay Welsh D X Thoroughbred by the famous Erwfforch Dewin Direudus out of a lovely old Chaser type mare called Bumble Bee. Libby – The reason I created the Wishful Eventer. Though she be little She is mighty. I wanted something a little more athletic following Bella and so appeared Libs. I found her as a 6 year old although she was more like a 4 year old. She hadn’t had the best start and had found her way back to her breeder Sue. She has a love heart on her head and four white socks. I’m a sucker for a pretty mare, how could I not? She’s been frustratingly smart and has at times gotten the better of me. I was fresh from losing my chestnut mare Bryony and at first struggled to bond with her. I find it very ironic that Libby is often similar to her. The right ones always fall into your lap eventually.
Where is your favourite place to ride?
The fields at home in the summer. That’s where life is always good.
How do you prepare for a show? Any weird superstitions?
I love preparing for a show! Particularly eventing, I take a lot of pride in plaiting up and The Libster has such a pert little bum she always has a perfectly pulled tail to show it off. For myself there’s no special pants, no lucky bracelet however I’ve now learnt it’s always wise to wear respectable knickers at all times. Apparently, if you have any wording on said knickers, a CT scan can pick it up and doctors find it hilarious seeing ‘LOVE’ or ‘TUESDAY’ across the front of your Apple catchers.
What has been the highlight of your riding career so far?
Team chasing both Bella and Bryony at Foxcote team chase. My dad came to watch me and he hasn’t really seen me ride properly ever. It was the best riding I’ve ever done, one after the other and it was that feeling that made everything so totally worth it. Plus seeing my dad’s face drop.
What do you aim to achieve in the future?
I’m aiming to get Libby up to Advanced Medium at BD and comfortably event at 90. Dressage does come very naturally to her but we struggle with show jumping. Everything has to be perfect otherwise she can loose her confidence very quickly. I’m not the bravest rider now as you can imagine and she’s also not the bravest horse. Far too much self preservation. I should really take a tip from her.. but short term goals are all about getting back in the saddle and get to our three day event at Keysoe at the end of May. If the stars align, we will get there.
What is your favourite piece of equestrian equipment you own?
My Toggi feather down coat. Its a mans one and goes halfway to my knees and I look like a weeble wearing it but in the winter I’ll be the only one sweating down the Yard. Secondly it’s my Albion jump saddle. I cannot stress how important a good saddle that fits your horse and you is. The moment I sat in it I wanted to jump.. and so did Libby!
If you could design any new piece of riding equipment, what would you make?
An air jacket for your bum that you can’t feel when riding. Preventing fractures through your spine!
What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to other riders?
Surround yourself with the right people. You are a product of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Make sure those 5 people support you inexplicably with love and humour.
Want to get to know Josephine more?
Find her on Facebook as The Wishful Eventer here.
Follow here on Instagram here.