In the second of our interview series designed to introduce BHS members to their local committee, we meet Claire Simkins. Claire joined the Buckinghamshire committee in October 2012 and is settling in nicely…
Name: Claire Simkins
Age (a ballpark please!): 30s
Family: Just my pets these days, as my partner of 10 years passed away just over a year ago. I have a naughty but lovely cat named Tazmin.
Occupation: Due to epilepsy, I am only allowed to do voluntary work now. However, I am kept busy by my pony, helping out at the stables and now with the BHS, too. Previously, I had an office job in finance, and also did various work with horses. Probably my favourite job was working with a pair of carriage driving horses in the London area. We drove a white coach and the horses wore big plumes, with the footmen dressed up as 'Prince Charming' for weddings! It was brilliant fun!
Tell us about… your first pony: The first pony I owned was a 13hh mare called Lady. She was well known in the area, and instantly recognisable as she was light grey with a large very dark dappled splodge on one side.
…the first fall you can remember: There have been far too many of these, I can't remember the first!
…the first rosette you remember winning: I did lots of Pony Club competitions on Lady, and we did win a lot of rosettes together. Most exciting was being in the tetrathalon team, although worryingly my best discipline by far was the shooting.
…your horsey highlight: Winning lots of BSJA on a crazy little mare that I bought when no-one else wanted her. She basically wanted to gallop flat out at any fence you put her at, which wasn't many other people's cup of tea.
…your most embarrassing horsey moment: Far too many to remember!
…your current horse(s): Since getting epilepsy, I've downsized from a 16.2hh warmblood to a 13.3hh Connemara mare called Dolly. She's a real all-rounder, and it's not so far to fall off!
Do you compete? What is your preferred discipline? I would love to still be able to event. I didn't realise when I bought Dolly that she had done very well in the show ring, in breed classes and as a Working Hunter Pony. I guess I ought to re-train myself for showing now and give it a go.
What’s your favourite horsey activity? I’m lucky enough to live on site where I keep Dolly at DIY livery, so I enjoy spending loads of time with her doing all sorts. She's a great friend.
What’s your equine ambition? To go out and win lots on Dolly in the show ring - I know she's capable of it, I just need to learn the art myself and catch up with her.
Share your yard secrets, please… what are your best time saving tips? Hay bars and automatic waterers are great - the yard I'm on now has them, and it's made me realise how long filling haynets and water buckets takes! I certainly rediscovered the joys of water buckets when the drinkers froze up during the cold snap this winter.
What about money saving tips? Isn't everything to do with owning a horse expensive?! I do think that having my small M&M seems cheaper to keep than a large thoroughbred or warmblood though.
I have rubber mats in the stable, and use cardboard bedding which I top up with my own shredded paper.
Tell us about your involvement with the BHS… what is your role on the committee? I'm the District Rep for the Chiltern area.
What does your role involve? Very little so far, as I've just started, but I'm keen to do more.
How long have you been on the committee, and how long in this role? I only joined at the Annual Meeting in October.
How did you get involved with the BHS? I attended the Annual Meeting, and realised there that therre were vacancies on the committee so I put my hand up. The BHS is something I really wanted to get involved in.
What’s your favourite part of the role? It's given me even more incentive to get involved in 'the love of my life' that is horses!
Thanks, Claire! Next time, we meet Alison Heath, who recently stepped up to the role of County Access and Bridleways Officer (CABO).