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Elaine lives in Surrey with her husband and son, but her story begins with toy animals and plasticine.
That’s right. I was born in London to, unfortunately, horse-naïve parents, and was passionate about ponies from an early age. I remember playing in my mum’s bedroom as a toddler with a farm set, pretending that the cows and sheep were ponies and fashioning saddles and bridles out of stickers and plasticine. My parents gave in and booked riding lesions for me when I was nine and in the ensuing years, I fell off a great variety of ponies. I was determined to have my own pony one day and when I left school, I started putting some of my meagre wages away every week in my “pony fund”. I discovered a stable of coster (rag and bone) ponies under the railway arch local to my home. There were also some rough types who kept horses there and I fell in love with one of their horses, a handsome black gelding. I was determined to buy him and negotiated fiercely until his owners gave in and I was allowed to work in the stables and pay them some money every week until I’d earned him.
I’d nearly paid for him when, arriving at the railway arches one morning, I was horrified to find him and some of the other horses being loaded onto a lorry destined for the notorious Southall market. When no-one was looking I got him off the lorry and, with nothing but a headcollar and lead rope, negotiated the busy Stockwell one-way system and all the way to my home. I put him in my back garden, but unfortunately forgot to tell my mother. The first thing she knew about it was when he put his head through her kitchen window with one of her precious roses hanging from the side of his mouth like some mad Flamenco dancer.
Of all the horses I have owned, or been associated with, my favourite is pictured above with me – Tia, a palomino Welsh cob cross. We’ve accumulated a cabinet full of rosettes over the years, but more than that, a wonderful relationship I never want to end.
Some of the exploits in my books are my own, some are straight out of my head but a lot of them are very real and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.