My grandad Arthur George Tomlin brought the farm in 1915 from his future father in law when he married grandma. He was a life member of the shire horse society. He brought shires to work on the farm and bred from them under the WYKIN prefix until 1969. The photograph is of me with homebred shires Wykin Jewel & Wykin Duchess at West Hallam Ploughing match, Derbyshire in 1968.
I learnt to ride as soon as I could sit up on my dads old Pony Club pony Alice. Sadly Alice died at the grand old age of 40 on Christmas Day 1968 with colic when I was two years old. The year before mum and dad had brought a Welsh Mountain Pony who we called Bobby as a yearling when I was a year old so we could grow up together. I wasn’t allowed to use a saddle until I had learnt to ride properly and went on to compete in local shows with Bobby when we were both 8 years old. Riding bareback as a very young kid meant I wasn’t unseated very easily and I won a few bareback jumping competitions. I competed in showjumping under B.S.J.A. Rules with various ponies from age 12 and various horses from age 16 to 23.
Dad used to plough with horses and when I was 19 someone goaded me to have a go. That person later complained he wished he hadn’t said anything when I came 5th at the Cheshire ploughing match and he came 6th the following year. I don’t like competing in showing classes but with Bobby as a kid mum made me compete so I could see how to turn out to a top show standard. Cleaning tack til it gleamed at 8 years old was not my favourite job. A few years later when competing at ploughing matches someone asked me if I did weddings with them, as they would like to book with us if we did. Mum heard them asking and commented that I was thinking of getting a carriage over that winter. They left us with their number and it became one of the first weddings I ever did for one of the Brailsford ploughing match Members. They were very pleased that the horse and carriage were turned out to one of the best standards they’d ever seen, considering that they had never seen me in showing classes. They made a joke of it at the wedding by walking past me pretending they didn’t recognise me all spruced up, compared to being covered in muck and grease from the plough at matches. It was a standing joke when I was showjumping that I usually turned up at shows looking scruffier than some peoples grooms. If I had been washing horses out before we left home I wouldn’t bother changing until it was time to walk the course. I remember one of the lads under sponsorship walking straight past me after walking the course commenting that he couldn’t see that scruffy so and so Ann Tomlin anywhere.
I’ve lived in Scotland and did horse logging for the HIGHLAND Forestry Commission in 2013. I was a member of the British Horse Loggers in the 80s when it was part of the Forestry Contracting Association. I met the chairman and his wife Richard and Angela Gifford at the Trumpet Ploughing match. It was our first time at the Trumpet match and Angela asked Dad if he knew what he was doing as competing in the high cut class was very specialist. Mum told Angela to eff off and mind her own effing business. Dad won the class so Angela avoided us at the prize giving ceremony. Other ploughmen were laughing amongst themselves as they knew we didn’t know who they were at the time and they knew I’d been approached about joining the logging association by a ploughman who was a member. I Joined the following year. A few years later I asked Angela if I could go to one of her training days at Holm Lacey College. I was introduced by Angela to other students that I was here to learn as I was a very good plough lady but knew absolutely nothing about horse logging. I remember going to a ploughing match afterwards and asking someone something, and he replied he knew absolutely nothing as he walked off laughing.
I am a life member of the horse boating society. There used to be a horse drawn boat in Shenton. I used to do tours with the horses and met up with the horse boat for lunch. At the time British Waterways priced them off the canal and I brought Bosworth the Boat Horse in the hope the horse boat would run in the future. He made an excellent plough horse and Sue Day from The Horse Boating Society came and introduced herself to me at the National Ploughing Championships in the early 90’s. I went to my first Horse Boating meeting the following spring.
Karen Bassett very kindly drove my horses with dads dray for his funeral a few years ago. We did a couple of practice runs so Karen didn’t need to drive them before the day. The horses behaved beautifully. Karen told me it was a pleasure driving them.
Karen Bassett Driving