Thursday, 13 August 2015

Goodbye to my show jumping days, getting married and a move to Raffingora.

On 31st December, 1967, Neil's 21st birthday, we got engaged, with no further dates in mind at that time for getting married.  He was busy working at the farm in Beatrice, 50km away from Salisbury and I loved my job and the horses, which were all stabled with my Dad.

Engagement 31 Dec 1967

In 1968, my star horse Kubla Khan started contracting colic quite badly and regularly, so I was hardly able to ride him at all! We finally sent him out to the farm with Neil, where we turned him out in the paddock, hoping that the rest would bring on a recovery. Unfortunately, after what looked like some good progress, the colic returned and getting a vet to go to see him out at Beatrice was not a practical option. We therefore brought him back to my Dad's home at Borrowdale, Salisbury. It was eventually agreed by our own vet, and from a second opinion, that there had to be an internal problem and the only answer was to put him out of his misery. It took me some time before I could agree to this and when I finally did, I took him to the Vet Research Laboratory where my boss Dr John Condy finally put him to sleep and did a post-mortem. The right decision thankfully had been made; we discovered that he had a badly ulcerated intestine, which the vets suspected was due to a massive dose of worms probably when he was younger. I was utterly heartbroken that such a brilliant horse should end his days this way, but I can only say that we did at least find an explanation for the persistent colic. If the post-mortem had produced a negative result I don’t think I could have ever lived with myself.
Kubla Kahn.

As I was then pretty much without a show jumping horse, I managed to find and buy a 16.2 hands high 5 year old gelding called Chervil during 1968. He had only raced a couple of times and both times had ended up at the back of the field! This meant that I had to go back to the very beginning again and spend much time on schooling and training him as a jumper. Chervil made his debut in the low grades in 1969, showing lots of promise, but he did not have the enthusiasm that I was accustomed to from Kubla Khan and I felt this partnership would mean a slow rise back to the higher grades! 

At the beginning of 1969, Neil moved from the farm at Beatrice to work for one of the local vets, who owned a farm at Raffingora, 140km north of Salisbury. As this was much further away than Beatrice, to see him on the odd weekend was not nearly so easy for me.  We decided now that it was time to finally get married. This of course meant two major changes for me, in that I had to leave my job with Dr Condy, and my riding days became somewhat numbered, being so far from Salisbury, where equestrian activities were centred.
20 Sept 1969
Neil and Diane

Myself with my two bridesmaids.

The Bruss and the Beak families
Don Beak, Georgia Bruss, Neil, Diane, Les Bruss, Dulcie Beak.


Meanwhile, Chervil had been improving all the time, though slowly, but of course my time was limited for schooling and for entering shows even more so. In 1971, one of the young riders that had just gone into adult classes made me an offer for the horse. As he was by then, all I had, I turned it down. They were obviously very keen and kept phoning me. After talking it over with Dad and Neil, I put a price on Chervil that I considered to be outrageous, so I hoped then that they would not bother me any more. The next thing I knew was that I had a cheque in my hand and no horse in the stable! Chervil in fact did very little after I sold him and I never did get to see him in the higher grades as I had expected which was quite disappointing. Maybe the sale was definitely in our best interests!!

My Life Before Charente to be continued :-) 


The section of my life story during our overland trip is published on Kindle if you should be interested:-


  1. Another similarity between us. We were married in the same year. But you have lovely wedding photos unlike me who has not. You must have been so upset to lose your favourite horse.

    1. Diane it is amazing how many similarities there are between us. It was a very hard decision to put Kubla to sleep, thankfully we discovered that it was the best thing we could have done. Very sad though with a horse that had so much promise for a great future. T'other Diane

  2. Big changes in your life to loose not one but two horses but it must have been the right decisions all the way around, especially marrying Neil.

    1. Gaelyn it was a massive change of life for me, and yes at the time marrying Neil seemed the right thing to do. Three years later I had my doubts, but that is another part of my life yet to come in this story :-)

  3. This was such an interesting post. I got married close to the same time you did and can appreciate the gown you wore and clothes. You were a lovely bride! Hugs, Diane

    1. Thanks so much Lavender Dreamer for the kind comment, Have a good day Diane

  4. What a beautiful bride you were Diane. Love all the modest clothes back then compared to what they were these days on weddings!

  5. Dearest Diane,
    Guess you beat me by a couple of years as I'm a post WWII child.
    You are attempting like I'm doing, to create a story to the photos of places lived over quite some time.
    We never had actually time to look back and study photos, another move, another job in yet another country + a new language. Total 7 languages and it sure feels rich!
    But it is time for putting things together for my 91-year old Pieter. He has been such a worker and never had time to look at our photos or videos. Made all we had digital and now he's enjoying it on his iPad, bit by bit.
    Hope he lives to see some more in print.
    We published our book, not about memories, a scientific and practical book. In my learned Oxford English as I find that better for world English. I've opted for the most complex route of publishing by self publishing. That's the ONLY option for having worldwide print on demand reach. So I did and it will take four months till you get the first paycheck but that's okay. Hoping to get our costs back and feeling satisfied for leaving some knowledge behind for several others.
    Feeling quite proud for having preserved Pieter's intellect as he's one of the world's first and leading pioneers in his field. Under P.J.C.'s Publications on my blog, below in the Labels you find them.

    1. Thanks Mariette for the comment and I have just visited your blog. For some unknown reason I was not notified of your comment and I only found it today.
      Hope you are well and managing to stay safe with this horrible COVID!
      Take care Diane


Verification free blog but all comments will be modified before publication.
Thanks for reading my post and I would love it if you leave me a comment. I will try to answer each and every one.