My name is Heath Ashley and I am 13 years old. I have been riding since I was 2 years old. I am in pony club and I do a lot of show jumping on my own horse, Grace, but I have always enjoyed hacking out which then led to my interest in endurance riding.
I had done a few pleasure rides on my own horses over the last couple of years and really enjoyed it. Late last year, a lady called Thay Stephenson messaged my mum to see if I would be interested to ride her horse, Sheer Bliss, for the following endurance season. My mum already knew Thay and had always liked Bliss, so she spoke to me and I was keen to meet Bliss and see how we got on together. I went to meet and ride Bliss and we just gelled straight away and I felt very comfortable on her and so our endurance journey began!
Earlier this year, we worked a lot on Bliss and my fitness and then we did our first pleasure ride together at Ravendale in February. I loved it and so did Bliss! We then entered for Elkington in March, as our first graded Novice ride. I was nervous, but got to ride with a lovely lady called Danni, who I already knew and we had a great ride and ended up with a Grade 1, which I was thrilled with!
We then went to Kings Forest in April and did 2 days there. We did 40km on the first day and 30km on the second day. I rode with the same lady, Danni, the first day and we had a lovely ride together. Bliss felt amazing and we made good time, as the going was great there. We finished with a Grade 1 and won the performance formula for our section, which was a lovely surprise for me!
The second day we rode with another really nice lady called Karen and again made good time. We finished with a Grade 1 and another performance formula win. We were all so happy! Me, my mum, Thay and her friend stayed over and had a great time all weekend, it was so much fun and the atmosphere at Kings was just amazing. I can’t wait to go back to Kings Forest again! We are aiming for me to get to Open level and we have 2 more rides to complete to get me there. Bliss is already an advanced horse. We are aiming to start to do longer distances than 40km and to do some 2 and 3 day graded rides in the summer. I am really looking forward to seeing how we get on this season.
I am really grateful to Thay for this amazing opportunity to ride Bliss, she is such a lovely horse to ride. It is not always easy being a boy that rides, as sometimes it can be viewed as more of a sport for girls, but I get a huge amount of support from my family and friends. I would definitely recommend endurance as a sport for boys. Everyone is so friendly and it is like a family as you get to know everyone. I am really looking forward to our next few rides!