Horse riding is not just a career for the Wirral's Pippa Hattan
PUBLISHED: 00:16 07 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013
Horse riding is not just a career for Pippa Hattan from the Wirral, it's in her blood WORDS BY CLAIRE GARNER PHOTOGRAPHY BY LESLEY WOOD
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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Smokey the Shetland pony was one of Pippa Hattans early equine challenges during a career with horses which has taken her around the world and back to the Wirral where she grew up.
Her late father, Geoffrey, a Fellow of the British Horse Society (BHS), took his family to Little Neston, overlooking the marshes and the River Dee, when he became Riding Master of the Wirral Riding and Saddlery Centre when Pippa was 11 years old.
The feisty, black pony taught Pippa a thing or two about riding. She recalls the day she was sent off to raise money for St John Ambulance at a show in the south of England close to where her family were living at the time.
Pippa said: Two tins were fixed together with a bit of string and then we laid them over Smokeys withers. I was about seven at the time and got bundled on top and sent off to raise some money. I didnt have much success so someone had an idea of putting money in one of the tins so it would rattle around and people would know I was collecting. The trouble was that the noise it made spooked Smokey and he just took off across the field.
The funny thing was I fell off him just outside the first aid tent which was handy and he just thought, well Im off then - and went home!
Fortunately, this early experience failed to deter the pony-mad youngster and her love for horses has taken her all over the world including Malaysia, Australia, Spain and most recently Hong Kong from where she moved back to the Wirral just over a year ago.
Pippa, a former pupil of Wirral Grammar School, said it is lovely to be home among family and friends. She said: I love the greenery. When you come up the M6 you always know when you have reached Cheshire because suddenly everything turns so green and there are these lovely big trees. I always know I am almost home.
Pippa, who is one of only a handful of BHS qualified instructors on the Wirral, has a new role as the BHS North West and Wirral Training Officer.
The principles of the BHS - the UKs largest equine charity which offers support and guidance on the care, management and training of horses - have been at the heart of Pippas global career.
She said: The grounding and foundations created by the BHS system and training have been invaluable to me, especially working overseas. I was able to implement a true and tested formula for horses management and care and rider training in multi-cultural environments, working with a variety of breeds and equestrian disciplines.
She added: At the heart of the organisation is a passion for horses and ponies of all makes and shapes, sizes and breeds. The BHS takes on board the aspirations of all from the happy hacker, grass roots to internationals, and also non-riders, family members and friends who just want to be involved.
Pippa believes that many horses and their riders are often capable of achieving much more than they think they can and it is simply a matter of unlocking each partnerships potential.
While this is something Pippa has developed herself from several decades of working with horses she also learnt from the example set by her father who was deeply respected in equestrian circles for his understanding of horses.
Pippa said: He had such great charisma and commanded attention, some times just by his presence. However, the bottom line was that everyone knew him to be a fair man and most importantly, he was passionate about his horses. He was light years ahead of his time especially in the development of the rider, which he advocated yoga and meditation techniques.
But Pippa said her father was adamant his daughter was not to become a Geoffrey Hattan clone. She said: He wanted me to be an individual and work out for myself how to train and how to ride.
Being Club Manager at the Lu Wu Saddle Club in Hong Kong involved working closely with ex racehorses sent on by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, an experience which has taken her to the heart of how to rehabilitate these track trained thoroughbreds.
Much of her teaching since she has returned to Cheshire has focused on retraining these horses for a different and useful future.
Pippas own horse, DOr Win, is a 16.2 hh Australian thoroughbred ex-racehorse which she brought with her from Hong Kong. The pair have trained together and reached Advanced Medium dressage and 1* eventing.
Through a BHS summer demonstration with DOr Win, Pippa used their own journey to teach others that with the right training and attitude, all horse and rider partnerships can achieve so much more than they think they can.
To contact Pippa go to www.pippahattanequestrian.co.uk or call 07887 771685.
To find out more about the BHS Wirral branch, including demonstrations by Pippa, email firstname.lastname@example.org