Despite living in lockdown, Katherine Bertram of Avonbrook Stud takes her first steps back to normality after her injury and subsequent surgery.
My first sit back on Marcus (c) Rowena Bertram
After 16 weeks of watching and waiting on the sidelines, I was finally allowed to ride again – albeit under strict supervision and wearing a body protector with shoulder pads! Predictably, our senior stallion Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica) was first on my list. He did, after all, take me for a walkabout just before my surgery so he likely considers himself a therapy pony – another string to his bow! Marcus was beautifully behaved as always and seemed smug when we went back to the barn and got glared at by his increasingly impatient offspring. Next was Odin – Avonbrook Odin (Marcus Aurelius x April) – who just about contained his bucking fits and managed not to snatch the reins from my hands in order to not scare me off! More recently, Odin’s usual naughty behaviour has resumed, and my new metal collarbone has stood up beautifully to the challenge.
Odin, absolutely not thinking about bucking (c) Rowena Bertram
Princess Penny – Annia Aurelia (Marcus Aurelius x Bint Zaehaebi) – had to prove herself to be completely safe and trustworthy before I was allowed to jump aboard again. Although we were both initially a little offended, Penny demonstrated her gentle demeanour with my sister, so I was given the green light to ride her for the first time since my injury. I knew she would be perfect and, being Penny, she did not disappoint! Despite my reactions being a bit slow and me being less fit than usual, both of which Penny could have used against me, I was treated to a glorious show of her smooth paces. You can imagine my delight at being allowed to ride properly again, and my relief at realising that I hadn’t lost the ability or the love for it. I was a little worried it would feel different, my collarbone would start hurting, or maybe I would not be able to use my right shoulder like I used to? So far, my worries are unfounded and, as I begin jumping again, my metal friend is giving me no trouble at all. Long may that continue!
Penny making me smile (c) Rowena Bertram
Just as I was re-planning my year with Penny, the time came to move the mare herd up to the summer grazing to reduce the pressure on the main barn and their scarily large food intake! Sadly, this included my beloved princess, mainly because she is such an integral part of the herd and we needed her as a lead mare for one of the groups. The mission split the herd into two groups, who were led up the track, across the main road, and across some fields towards the summer field. The first group consisted of Penny; Coca – Caveland Calypso (Winter Words TB x Cassie); Archie – Avonbrook Beltane Silver (Marcus Aurelius x Caveland Calypso); and Maddie – Avonbrook Winter Queen (Marcus Aurelius x Avonbrook Summer Breeze). There were a couple of heart-stopping moments, but we made it and Penny took the lead horse job in her stride while I quivered and trembled beside her. If I ever hold a horse next to a main road again, it will be too soon!
A fantastic commision of Penny by Jasmine Hemming (c) JH Photography
The second group was led by our other ‘Holly-daughter’ Rosie – Avonbrook Green Rose (Marcus Aurelius x Bint Zaehaebi) – who I was thankfully allowed to take; her yearling daughter Lily – Aurelie Rose (by Marcus Aurelius); and three year old Delphi – Blue Delphinium (Shadow Blue x Bey Drachma). Lily ended up leading the group as Rosie was keeping tabs on Delphi, she has such a maternal instinct and stayed between the road and the other mares as we angled away from it and towards the field. One of the fields was littered in knee height plants, burnt and black under the hot sun. Every so often, we’d carefully step over plastic shells shaped like water bottles and negotiate the constant rise and fall of the ploughed field. The fields we traversed were all unsown and we had permission to use them – they were a blessing to us as the nearer we were to the road, the higher my blood pressure went! The herd have since settled in their glorious new surroundings although they do occasionally play during their twice daily checks.
Archie and Maddie playing on the summer grazing (c) Katherine Bertram
This month I have been investigating future study and job options which has kept me busy and a little bit nervous. University isn’t over quite yet, I still have one more essay to complete and the titles have just been released. One final push to the finish line before the next adventure! On our quieter evenings, I have enjoyed facetiming my friends, watching films, and finding other ways to fill the gaps between sleeping, eating, and riding. After working our way through several Netflix shows (a particular favourite was I Am Not Okay With This), we have been going back and forth between horror films and musical comedies. For someone who can’t be in the same room as an active toaster, I have a real penchant for watching killer demon-clowns devour children, adults posing as orphan children to murder adoptive families, and anything with Jordan Peele attached to it… Go figure, I guess! Of course, films require snacks, so there will be a lot of riding, running, and at-home workouts needed to stay on track with my fitness for when the competitions eventually come back.
Lockdown brownies supporting a friend who is talented at baking
Lead photo: Marcus Aurelius posing for the camera in 2019 (c) Bob Langrish
Katherine Bertram is an English young rider who competes in a variety of different disciplines on her mother’s homebred pure and part-bred Arabians. Having achieved advanced rider status in Endurance after her first season at age 14 on Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica), Katherine turned her attention to showjumping with his progeny, at which she currently competes at Senior Newcomers (1.10). As well as also delving into showing, eventing and, occasionally, dressage, Katherine juggles her studies while attending the University of Birmingham.