After leading the riders out on to the track, I walked alongside the horses as they got into their stride. But as they picked up pace, I just couldn’t keep up.
I was a volunteer at Quest, a Riding for the Disabled Association group, but I was starting to worry I wasn’t cut out for it. Once a keen horse rider, I hadn’t actually been in the saddle myself for years. My weight had risen during three pregnancies, then in 2010 my legs were injured in a car accident. During a slow and painful recovery, I comforted myself with biscuits, chocolate and crisps, and more weight crept on.
Years later, on holiday in Borneo, my husband, Neil, and I took a trip on a riverboat. When I couldn’t lower myself into the boat, Neil had to ask two of the local men for help. As they lifted me down, one puffed: ‘Must be... 100... kilos…!’ I realised then that I had to do something about my weight, and a few months later I joined Slimming World.
I’ve always loved my food and was amazed that simple changes – like cooking curries from scratch instead of using shop-bought sauces – could make such a big difference. Every week, I’d plan meals that I knew my family would enjoy, too, such as diet cola chicken, meatballs and risotto, and the weight kept coming off week after week. My youngest daughter, Lucy, posted my progress on social media, saying how proud she was.
After a year, I noticed something rather surprising – I wasn’t just walking beside the riders on their horses, I was actually jogging.
And I was going fast enough to keep up with them – even at a trot! It renewed my passion for the job and my self-confidence, so much so that when the opportunity came up to speak at a Quest Riding for the Disabled Association charity ball, I didn’t hesitate. I took to the podium in a gorgeous size-12 dress I’d bought for the occasion. I’d dropped six dress sizes!
And the best was yet to come. My parents bought me a gift voucher for riding lessons. As I swung nimbly into the saddle, it was like being home again. I’d thought in my 50s that my riding days were over. Now I’m looking forward to the adventures to come!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.