• Gillian Keegan

This equestrian's life

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

You could sum it up in that I really like horses. I think about horses for most of my waking hours. Then I dream about horses. But because I have a million and one things to juggle, and what feels like a million and one children (3) and a busy busy busy busy corporate job, my riding time is more limited than I would like. In my perfect world, I would still juggle, I like to be busy, but somehow I'd fit in a couple of hours riding a day, teach and then compete at weekends (I'm not sure which discipline yet...) and I'm not a qualified instructor yet - but I can work out those minor details! I have dreams about big trekking holidays, staying in tents and camping hearing a horse munch next to you, and also riding at the Spanish riding school, feeling what a piaffe is like. I have so so much left to do!

Anyway, I'll start with where I am right now. I'm in Alderley Edge, a lovely village in Cheshire, England where I feel a bit like a fish out of water as I don't have a Range Rover, and I haven't had any plastic surgery. The cars are flashy and the ladies are flashier, out for coffee after a morning of tennis dahhling. My lovely in-laws live here, and have done for years, arriving before the footballers and want-to-be's, and thankfully, they are very normal! It's summer and the nights are long. The Cheshire countryside is beautiful. Bright, scented, green paddocks, stone cottages with pink wallflowers, thatched roofs and whitewashed pubs, crammed with small, dark, cosy rooms, serving real ale on tap, and beer gardens overlooking the cricket pitch.

It's hard to beat the English summer. It's light until 10pm, long trail rides after work, and no need for arena flood lights. But, ahh, it's achingly short lived. Anyway, I'm here for 7 weeks and breathing it in. The first time in the UK for 6 years. I moved away to Australia over 10 years ago now. I had gone through university, qualified as a solicitor and was offered a job with a big firm when it just all felt too serious and dull. I was happy to work hard, but there had to be more to the weekends than living in my hometown and going round Ikea. A girl from my office applied for a job with a firm in Sydney. She got it and I heard they were doing another recruitment drive so I thought - why not?!

I had never been to Melbourne before I moved there. Australia is hot, isn't it? So I clearly had no need for a coat. Then I rented an apartment in Port Melbourne in June. YIKES! Melbourne is the coldest place on EARTH in winter. A very thick winter jacket and a few insanely intense months as a litigation lawyer later, I met Mr Lawyer and boom, here we are.

We lived in Melbourne, Perth, Melbourne again, then settled in the Macedon Ranges, a beautiful rural area around an hour north of Melbourne. There are gum trees, red dust roads, kangaroos, cockatoos and kookaburras. The sky is big and brilliantly blue, people are friendly, open and welcoming. Australia is a very special country and I love this part of it. We bought a dreamy property on 65 acres of land, part bush and part open paddocks. Built an arena, rode, played fetch with the dogs in the dam, drank Australian wine on the deck and helped the kids collect the fresh chook eggs each day. It sounds heavenly, and in so many ways, it was.

Fast forward 5 years. We have fully settled into our home, we have a lovely group of agistees (DIY livery, to those in the UK) and I have two fabulous young horses that I'm ready to get going after the birth of our third child. All is great, better than great. I'm genuinely excited about life, excited about the kids growing up in such a beautiful part of the world, and excited about my youngsters, starting them under saddle myself, getting out and about.

Then Mr Lawyer came home one day and announced that it was very likely that he would be assigned overseas for his next role. As he is the main salary earner, it wasn't something that we could really turn down. My mind immediately sprang to the US, or Canada possibly. As I worked through the shock, I tried to convince myself that it could be great. I even started googling good yards around the office!

Then Mr Lawyer broke the news that we were moving to India. Holy crap.

Ruby (left) and Merlin (right), my young horses in Australia.


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