THE ORIGINAL HUFFERS - MEET MELANIE HUNTER YELL
Who is Melanie Hunter Yell?
Well thats me! But I thought you might like to learn a bit more about me. Why I live this lifestyle and what's driven my passion for our horses and our sport.
So what’s your discipline and why?
I event, or let’s say I try to event. I enjoy the dressage training and development, but don't love riding a test. I love love love cross country...it's where I feel at home and the most relaxed. I don't get nervous....until show jumping. I don't know why, I just don't love the show jumping. I have a super talented mare that is probably completely wasted with me, but I love her so much and she really is a dream to ride. She’s currently at BE100 and I have ambitions of taking her to a 1*. I’d love to team chase at some point in the future. But I’m off games right now as I’m 8 months pregnant!
Tell us about the horses that have driven your passion for the sport?
I’ve had some great ponies and horses and came from a horsey family, so this lifestyle is engrained in me. We have very much a ‘get on with it’ attitude in our family.
My first pony was a little brown roan called Bonzo. My parents 'cleverly' bought me a 5 year old, when I was only about 4! So I spent a lot of time on the lunge rein!! He wasn’t a bad pony as such, just a 5 year old with opinions! But he turned good in the end and was quite a little school master. I pony clubbed him and competed in Working hunter pony until I was about 11. We won everything and gave us so much pleasure. It was a very sad day for the whole family when we had to sell him, but he had to go and make another family happy, so we sold him to a family in the Percy Hunt and he spent his remaining days hooning around the countryside teaching kids to stay on!
My next main man was Danny O’Malley. An Irish bred horse I evented. We’d been looking for a long time for my next horse and I think we were just bored looking as when we went to view him, he hadn’t been ridden in a year, had no tail as a cow had chewed it off, he wouldn’t jump a thing and I couldn’t hold on to him! Dad said, ‘give him 8-9 months if you still can’t hold on to him, we’ll sell him’. Selling horses has never been our strength. So, after 9 months I just started to lie. And told dad all was fine I could hold on to him, despite being in pain every time I rode as he just pulled me around like a rag doll. Then one day he just stopped! Stopped pulling, got his act together, jumped and became a dream horse. A little pocket rocket machine!
Then there is Princess Florence. My current quirky, chestnut, Dutch Warmblood mare. Again, on paper one would ask why I bought her. I had been out of the game for almost 13 years apart from hacking, but decided I wanted to get back into the sport seriously and went horse shopping. She was a 5 year old, just broken and turned away. I just knew when I saw her, she was the one. I’ve produced her myself and I know what mistakes I’ve made along the way. But she is a talented and gorgeous mare. I truly believe that if I put her with a professional she would go far. But I couldn’t bear for someone else to take the ride. She’s taught me so much and we do have a special bond.
How do you relax at the end of the day?
Right now there is little to no time to relax! I have two mares to ride, two ponies under 4 that need backing, two dogs and cat to look after. Plus, a business to run and I’m 8 months pregnant, so I’m supposed to be nesting or something like that! But the yard and tack room seem to be getting more attention than the nursery right now! If I were to relax and I wasn’t pregnant, then I’d like to spend time with my husband, have a G&T, glass of champagne and go somewhere lovely for dinner! I also love a ‘proper’ dog walk with the hubby. When I do get to relax…hopefully in the next few weeks, when I slow down, I do love some back to back Real Housewives watching. I'm an addict!
What do you do to keep fit?
Fit? What is that? My body and fitness has been in decline for that last 8 months! But in theory, I find all the yard duties and my horses keep me generally fit. I used to run a bit. Peaked at a half marathon and then felt I’d ticked it off the list. I do LOVE hot yoga! I’ve asked hubby if next year’s project can be a Yurt in the orchard so I can have my own hot yoga studio!
What’s your biggest luxury in life?
My biggest luxury is my home and my lifestyle. We’ve worked really hard for it and I appreciate it everyday. Having my own yard, my own arena, my horses at home and having acres to walk the dogs and call home, really is my biggest luxury. I hated being on livery. And having everything right here on my doorstep without even leaving home makes life so much easier. We also live in the most amazing village with the most wonderfully kind people, so that is also a massive luxury.
If you want me to be a girl about it. My other biggest luxury would be Espa facials and products. Can’t live without them!
When the going gets tough, what keeps you motivated?
I’m a pretty tough cookie who knows what I want and how to get it, so I don’t struggle with motivation. I just keep plugging away at something – I’m a bit of a dog with a bone! I do need goals. Really clear goals and deadlines. From a business perspective, I’m good at this. From a riding perspective, I don’t think I’m as clear cut on the deadlines for my goals, which is probably my shortfall.
What do you think is the biggest challenge you face as an amateur rider?
Not riding enough horses daily to really improve. Riding two very different mares improves me every day, but I also know riding more would really help me. I also struggle with putting the competing first, as I have a business to run! And lack of ‘help on the ground’. I train with Sam, Julia and Cara, but it’s daily eyes on the ground that I miss. As much as my hubby thinks he’s Yogi Breisner…..he’s not!