Wednesday, 10 April 2013


This is a post about a beloved horse in my life,


When I lived in Spain, I had the wonderful opportunity to look after an 18-year old, beautiful iberian horse by the name of Tanoka, who I could just treat as my own. The owner worked at my school and he had no time on his hands to care for him and he was at my stables where I rode, so I took up the chance immediately and I rode him for the first time on January 23rd 2010, the day after my birthday. When I first met him, he seemed overweight and had no respect for me at all. He would constantly try to lean into me and push me out of the way with his huge body, he would not stand still and would try to eat, and picking out his hooves was an absolute nightmare.

When I rode him, his head was constantly in the air and he was very tense, and at every noise and opportunity he would bolt with me to the opposite end of the arena, just wanting to be back in his paddock. After the ride he was very sweaty and the battles continued once more as I untacked and brushed him and put him back to bed.He used to always give me a look as if to say 'what are you DOING to me?!' when I tried to brush him...

The yard was so helpful in helping me with him, for example when there was a hack in the mountains they would try to take him out just to help him get used to being ridden again, get him used to other sounds and horses, and just get into the swing of things. I also lunged him frequently in aid to help calm him down in the riding schools and to relax him a little.

There were constant battles all the way and throughout. However, in just a few months in April time, during my Saturday morning lesson, something suddenly seemed to click.

I don't know what it was, but he grew calmer and calmer and started to accept the bit more and more, and bolting became much less and it became a massive achievement to see him trotting around the entire arena without having to cut corners because of a scary tree!

Tanoka was a real looker, everyone always stopped to stare and would ask 'what horse is that?' I began to feel more and more proud to say 'That is Tanoka!'

Every ride got better and better, even though he did have suspected arthritis in his fetlocks I took him over a couple of jumps sometimes (which he liked to have a cheeky buck afterwards!) and some of my most fondest memories of him are cantering on the tracks through the mountains in Barcelona to the top, and having a glorious view of the entire city by the sea, as the sun set. I wish I could just relive that moment just once more time.

Another fond memory was the first dressage competition with him. He knew what to do and was a superstar, unfortunately I was very nervous and he picked up on it, as well as he was excited. I made a lot of errors on the test and we didn't place at all but that wasn't the point. The fact that it came to me being barely able to ride him because he was in such a state to us being fit and good enough to enter a dressage test was a massive achievement and I was so proud of my boy!

He was full of cheek the whole way though...

And in the test itself we both had our moments!

But he was my special boy and I wouldn't change him for absolutely anything.

When he started standing still for me whilst grooming and tacking him up (and even picking out his feet!) I started to get worried, thinking 'is he ill, or sick?' but he just looked at me with his face, as if to say 'What on Earth are you talking about, Human!'He was such a massive highlight to my life and I hope I helped him with his nerves and the endings to his life and riding career too.

After my A levels everything was a blur, I got ready to move back to the UK and the next thing I know, I never said bye to Tanoka and had to take leave. I hadn't ridden him since around April 2011 at that point, a month before my exams were due, after taking a nasty tumble off another horse during a jumping lesson and hurting my back (thank goodness for my back protector!) and having trouble on other horses. I was also nervous as hell about my exams and my future about universities and Tanoka fed off me with such sensitivity, so it became wrong to ride him and get him worked up in such a state.

I haven't seen him since and my mother visited the stables shortly after I started studying back in the UK, but he was no where to be seen... I have no idea what has happened to him and I secretly think he has perhaps passed on. He certainly was an old boy and it absolutely saddens me to think it. But I hope I made a difference to his life as he did to mine.

So why this blog post? I feel like this story needs to be shared, to share the sentimental values that this horse had over me. He was such a massive part of my life as I was suffering from a culture shock and a new place and surroundings, and Tanoka was there undergoing a similar trauma of a nervous state. We both pulled through something together and now I wish to create something amazing to remember him by... So why not a full horse sculpture...

The only problem is... Which pose to choose...



  1. Thanks for sharing the story, he sounds like he was a really special boy. Such a lovely unique name too!
    As for poses.... I personally would choose a pose that showed his cheekiness. You can really see his personality in the photos.

    1. His personality was amazing! Definitely going to make him have a very expressive face. Can't wait to start this project! Thank you for your comment. :)

  2. That is such a lovely story, you certainly were lucky to have the chance to work with him. :) I sort of know how you feel, not being able to say goodbye. The same thing happened to the most special horse I met. I went in an unexpected holiday and during it, I received a call and was told he had passed away. :/ It's always very hard when something like that happens.

    1. Thanks! And yes it is very sad. I am sorry about what happened to you!