We brought Penhaligon’s Riviera (Riva) on the 3rd of July 2016.
After having to say goodbye to my beloved 6yr old it was a while before I was ready to look for another horse, and when I was it was only more difficult by the lack of anything out there that was suitable to what I wanted and didn’t cost the earth. I was looking for something fairly young 3/4/5, preferably backed, with a good trainable attitude and ability to progress through the levels in my chosen discipline: dressage.
We first heard of Theresa from a friend of my sisters who had previously purchased a horse from her, my sister contacted Theresa for me and straight away the ball was rolling; Theresa replied back the next day with three horses in mind that suited what I wanted, she described them perfectly and gave us prices straight away for all three (something that I was finding was increasingly rare these days).
We arranged to go and see all three and in the meantime I trawled Theresa’s website for all the information I could find on my potentially new horse. From this I learned that they had all had an incredibly natural start to life (which was lovely as I think we don’t see enough of this anymore), none of them had been rushed in their education and they had been able to grow and develop at their own rate; due to this they were all such unspoilt friendly horses, who loved attention and wanted to please.
When we (me, my mum & my dad) went to Theresa’s weviewed both Riva and Fifi; Riva was 4 and had just started cantering and Fifi was 3 had just been backed and was ready to be turned away for a year. Theresa made us feel comfortable from the start, she was in no rush despite the fact it was late in the evening and tipping down with rain. Both horses were so relaxed in their environment and very inquisitive, I watched Dom mount Riva in an open space and walk her up and down the long driveway before schooling her in the arena for us, she was so unfazed by everything it was hard to beleive she was only 4 years old and had only been in work a few weeks.
Theresa allowed me ride Riva and once again I was amazed at how calm she was during all of this, especially in the weather conditions and considering she was used to only Dom riding her. Afterwards we watched Dom lunge Fifi who has the most amazing movement and presence; I was completely torn between the two. They were both built incredibly well, had excellent breeding, and such lovely personalities it was hard to choose, and if I could I would of very happily brought them both home – I did try and persuade my sister that she could buy the other and we’d have both but sadly that didn’t happen (although I think she too would have if she could).
After we’d viewed both horses we were welcomed into Theresa’s house where we sat with her and her husband Pete and had a cup of tea and chatted comfortably. I’d decided by this point that Riva was the one for me and already couldn’t wait to get her home; she was at that point in her life where she was ready to continue her education whereas preferably Fifi would need to be turned away for a year to be allowed to grow and develop, this with the combination of Riva’s calm mind set and polite personality won us over.
Theresa and Pete were incredibly accommodating throughout the whole process and we arranged a day to pick her up. Once again when we arrived at Theresa and Pete’s we were welcomed inside and enjoyed a drink and a chat before we went and saw Riva – who had been bathed freshly for the occasion. Riva had only ever been on a horse trailer for a very short journey to a nearby field in the past but when confronted with our horsebox took everything in her stride. After having a good look and some gentle persuasion she happily walked on without any fuss –something that amazed me for her age. She travelled without any bother at all, happily eating her hay net and not even breaking a sweat, I’d had to travel in the back with my last horse so this was incredibly refreshing and just proved what a good attitude Riva had.
I hope Theresa doesn’t mind be mentioning that she got upset when she said goodbye to Riva; if anything this made me realise even more that we had made the right decision in buying one of their horses. It’s easy to see that they care about them all so much, they aren’t just looking for a quick sale and some easy money; they want to make sure they go to the right home and they are in no rush for this to happen. They want the best life possible for the horses that they breed and this is often what people claim but do not follow through with.
Because of this you know that the horse you are buying has had the best possible upbringing, which was made obvious to us when we brought Riva home. She is not scared of anything; because she has never had to be, she will look at something if it is out of the ordinary but she will not spook or overreact, she will take it all in and as soon as she knows that there is no threat will forget all about it and carry on. I don’t believe she would have been the same without the upbringing that Theresa and Pete have given her and all their other horses, they breed for ability but they also breed for attitude too.
I believe Riva has enough about her to make a talented dressage horse, but she’s not silly with it. At times she is a typical 4yr old, fresh and happy to be alive but she is always controllable and quick to come back to you. Since getting her home she has been in an indoor arena, outdoor arena, schooled with up to 3 other horses, schooled over poles, seen all sorts of jumps and fillers and people in the gallery and has not bothered with any of it. We hacked her the first week we had her, she will hack alone or in company without any bother, she doesn’t mind cars, tractors, trailers, sheep, cows, hay bales but she also has talent.
She has come on so much since we had her; in strength and ability. We have recently introduced a very small amount of lateral work into her schoolingincluding shoulder in and leg yield, she’s quick to learn and finds everything very easy, she has an amazingly active backend already which I believe will make future collected work very easy. We are in no means in any rush with her, we plan to school her over the coming winter and start taking her out to new venues in the New Year, she’s still growing and has a lot of strengthening up to do but I can’t wait to see what she grows up into.
Theresa is always very interested in what we are doing and how she is getting on, something that people often promise but never actually follow through with. I like to keep her as updated as possible on Riva’s progress and love the fact that she is so supporting and happy to hear how she is doing. The quality of Theresa and Pete’s young stock continues to improve every year and I think I fall in love with every foal they post a picture of. I cannot imagine I will be looking for a new horse any time soon, but if I was I’d know exactly where to go.
I cannot thank Theresa and Pete enough for producing such a lovely young horse that I can very proudly call my own, and for making everything to do with it so easy and pleasant. I will happily recommend them and their horses to everyone I know who’s looking for a new best friend.