I am English and came to Hydra with my Mum on holiday when I was 10 in 2000. We loved it, so we stayed. I was educated in Hydra and so I am fluent in Greek. I grew up around animals and always knew that I wanted to work with horses and dogs.
My Mum put me on my first pony ride when I was only eighteen-months-old and I started riding lessons when I was three. After graduating from High School in Hydra, I had a three-year gap off the island when I joined the British Army. I returned home to think of ways that I could incorporate my love of the outdoors and work with animals. In 2014, I launched Harriet's Hydra Horses.
My horses are my pets and are my family, so I treat them as gently as I do my friends.They work hard, especially in the summer, and I rest them in shade with water and a bit of food in between treks to make sure that they are happy and enjoy my horse treks as much as my riders do.
My horses are medium-sized, sturdy, with good stamina and perfect for mountain trails as they are all surefooted. I don't use larger pack animals for my horse treks because they don't cope with the terrain as well as smaller, nibble horses, or as safely with regards balance, especially if they are being ridden by novices.
Chloe stands 1.47 meters, is 5 years old and was born in Ermioni.
I met Chloe when she was a foal. She belonged to my physiotherapist. It took me a while to convince her to sell Chloe to me. Chloe was lucky because she had a very good start in life and had never 'worked'.
Eventually, I brought her to the island and started breaking her in and training her myself. Chloe and I have a very special bond.
Chloe is particularly good with young children as she is very gentle, 'interested' and is very trusting of humans!
She is also a confidence builder for novice riders because Chloe knows what she is doing with very little need for rider input.
Melina stands 1.37 meters and is 8 years old and was born on the Peloponnese.
Melina was my first rescue horse.
Unfortunately, she didn't have a very kind start as her previous owner beat, starved and overworked her!
Although she is, naturally, a lot more cautious about making new friends than my other horses, she has responded well to kindness and is a very safe horse.
She won't want to give you a kiss like the other horses do, but Melina is utterly reliable, bombproof and loves working with the team.
Dennis stands 1.34 meters, is 9 years old and was born on Hydra. He has always been well-treated and didn't come to me with any bad habits other than him being inquisitive to the point of being nosy! He likes to join in with everything.
He is a cheerful horse who is the smallest of the team but thinks he is the boss. He is very proud to lead the treks and also works as my bridal horse for weddings.
Dennis is cheeky but gentle and safe. He is always the favourite of children who have nick-named him 'Dennis the Menace' and he loves posing for 'selfies' with you!
Roulis stands 1.50 meters, is 4 years old and was born in the Peloponesse. He is my second rescue horse and sadly had his tail docked. He was starving when I first got him and took a while to put on weight. But his character is amazing, he loves the other horses, doesn't like being on his own and loves working as a team. Within a short time of me having him, I trusted him enough to give the reins to riders who don't want to be led.
Roulis is turning out to be the best of my team. Fortunately, he hadn't been beaten, so he is always interested and confident around people.
Lady stands 1.40 meters, is 4 years old and was born in the Peloponesse. She is a pretty little horse with a very distinctive white blaze down her nose. Lady was the pet of a friend who didn't work her and treated her very kindly. This gentle treatment at the start of her life shows in her happy, confident nature. Lady works very well with the team and is an easy ride.
Copper stands 1.45 meters, is 15 years old and was born in Galatas.
Copper joins the team when the number of people on the trek requires him.
He is a sturdy, reliable and friendly horse with years of experience of Hydra's mountain trails.
The well-being and happiness of my horses is a priority, and because there is no equine vet on Hydra, I am grateful to the team of volunteers from GAWF (Greek Animal Welfare Foundation), who visit Hydra annually, for their advice and reassurance so I can look after minor ailments myself. I particularly appreciate my first lesson in dentistry from Equine Dentist, Garry Draper. It's wonderful to be self-sufficient as it would awful for any of my horses to have to wait a year with tooth-ache!
Harriet's first equine dentistry lesson with Garry. Anyone who is scared of the dentist, probably shouldn't have the sound switched on as the rasping noise is really ..... umm loud!Posted by Kelsey J Edwards on Monday, 19 October 2015
Surprisingly, for an island dependent upon equines, there are many children on the island who have nothing to do with horses and are a bit afraid of them. But now I regularly have 'little helpers' at the stables and I actively encourage positive appreciation and care of horses with sessions at the local school.
Rather than being cooped up in stables during the winter months when it is quieter in Hydra, I take the horses to our home in Palamida where they have lots of space to roam, graze, kick up their heels and enjoy themselves! They work hard during the high season, and they would be bored if I left them standing in their stable, so they deserve a holiday especially when the weather is nice.
My husband Vasilis, is a builder by trade and didn't have a connection with horses until I launched Harriet's Hydra Horses.
He built our stables, repairs them and has extended them as our team has grown. He's even good a mucking out and feeding. Although he doesn't ride, he loves the horses as much as I do.
He supports and encourages me, and he frequently joins us on treks up the mountains, so together we can enjoy the countryside that we both love so much.