In the first of a series of interviews designed to introduce BHS Oxfordshire members to their local committee, we meet the Chair of the Oxfordshire committee, Troth Wells…
Name: Troth Wells
Age (a ballpark, please!): Mid 60s
Family: I have a daughter and a son by my first marriage, and two grandchildren.
Occupation: I worked in publishing, but am now retired.
Tell us about… your first pony: I didn't have a pony of my own, much as I'd have loved one. I learned to ride at a riding school near Lincoln, run by a former Cavalry officer. My favourite pony there was a grey gelding called Solo. We used to go to gymkhanas and Pony Club events that were within hacking distance, and once did a hunter trial where Solo was so excited that it took about 20 minutes to close a gate!
I bought my first horse when I was in my late 50s. Copper was a 21 year old chestnut mare who had done lots of competing and was ready for a quieter life hacking out.
… the first fall you can remember: I fell off my cousin's pony, Gypsy, in Lincoln. I still bear the scar!
… the first rosette you remember winning: In Coronation year (1953) I won a fancy dress competition dresses as the Queen in her Trooping the Colour outfit, riding my first riding school pony Candy.
… your horsey highlight: Riding Copper to try and save a bridleway in Oxford that was threatened with closure. The route led to a country park, but part of it lay across the BMW car works. Copper took the cars, heavy lorries and industrial surroundings in her stride. We lost the battle, but what a brave horse! The BHS's access fighting fund grew out of this campaign.
… your most embarrassing horsey moment: Attempting a showjumping class on Copper. We had just taken second place in the veteran showing class, and Cops decided we could now go really fast. We were rather out of control, crossed our tracks and got eliminated. What fun, though!
… your current horse(s): Sadly, Cops died in 2012. I don't think I'll get another horse of my own. I'm lucky in that kind friends allow me to ride their horses.
Do you compete? What is your preferred discipline? I don’t compete anymore, but my childhood dream was to follow in the footsteps of Pat Smythe and David Broome and become a showjumper.
What’s your favourite horsey activity? What can beat a lovely ride out on your favourite horse, with the sun on your backs? Until recently, that was on Copper. When I was 12, though, I was allowed to ride Solo from the riding school and take him, on my own, to the blacksmith seven miles away. It was wonderful, just me and my horse riding along the wide grass verges and fairly car-free roads of 1960s Lincolnshire.
What’s your equine ambition? Just to know more about horses and the horsey world. I realise how little I know about so many things.
Share your yard secrets, please… what are your best time saving tips? Making sure there's always plenty of soaked hay on the go. Oh, and digging out ragwort when the plants are still tiny!
What about money saving tips? Copper and her friend, Harley, always lived out so that helped. I also made my own fly spray mixture.
Tell us about your involvement with the BHS… what is your role on the committee? I’m Chair and also County Access and Bridleways Officer (CABO).
How long have you been on the committee, and how long in this role? I’ve been CABO since 2006, and Chair for the last two or so years.
How did you get involved with the BHS? I used to be a Pony Clubber as a child, and when I got Copper I wanted to belong to a horsey organisation again.
What’s your favourite part of the role? Seeing how knowledgeable and enthusiastic people are, and being able to go to horsey events.
Finally, what are your plans for the year ahead within the BHS? We have some great BHS Oxon events coming up - Trec/Agility, our annual Fun Ride and training days. We are also looking forward to welcoming William Reddaway and his horse, Strider, on their Ride Round England in November. I would love to increase the membership in Oxfordshire, and want to encourage all ages to get involved in the magical, healing world of horses.
Is there anything else we should know about you? My weird name... it is old English, and means 'truth'. It has been a name given to girls in my family since the 17th Century - you may recall hearing it in Shakespeare plays ('by my Troth') or in the old marriage service ('plight my Troth'). I often get called Tracy, Ruth or Trish by mistake... oh, well!
Thanks, Troth! Next time, we meet Anna Wilby, who is secretary and Riding Club liaison.