Julia Norman’s Burghley first-timer blog: life is too short to not follow your dreams

I am so excited and honoured to be H&H’s 2019 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials first-timer blogger!

This season has been stuff dreams are made of having completed my first Badminton on horse of a lifetime, Carryon Bobby Boy, who is owned by Diana Wethered. Now to be possibly ending the season with him at Burghley is truly a dream come true.

My journey with ‘Bobby’ started at BE90 level in March 2014 at Swalcliffe, and together we have gone all the way up through the levels to jump clear cross country at Badminton this year, which was both our first CCI5* (pictured throughout). It was a total dream come true and still seems so surreal. Bobby is the most brave, genuine and honest horse, who LOVES cross-country, almost as much as he loves his food!

Bobby learnt his bravery with his owner Diana on the hunting field, as well as team chasing, and he was the ultimate Pony Club horse for Diana’s children.

I grew up on our family farm just outside Marlborough, Wiltshire, with my siblings Giles and Georgia, spending my childhood pretending to showjump around the front lawn winning Olympic gold, and building lots of dens in the woods!

I went to Dauntsey’s School followed by university at the Royal Agricultural College for a year, before switching to UWE to study business in property, somehow graduating with a 2:1, despite rather too much time spent partying and riding horses rather than studying! I then moved to London with my then boyfriend, now husband Tristan, to gain my RICS qualification as a quantity surveyor and construction project manager. This consists of essentially being a spreadsheet geek, brick counter and generally bossing around builders and ruining architects’ visions by telling them their design is too expensive!

I then moved back to Wiltshire to work as a rural planning consultant for Kernon Countryside Consultants to allow me more time to ride alongside a full-time job.

In November 2014 my whole world turned upside down, when we very suddenly lost my mum, Gill. Having fiercely and determinedly battled breast cancer for just under 15 years — hunting, shooting, galloping about and living life to the full even during chemotherapy — it was still the most devastating shock to us all, and a loss I still struggle with, and always will.

It did make me truly realise that life is too short to not follow your dreams, so I then took the scary step of giving up the day job to create a business to work with horses full-time. Putting my RICS qualification into use, we converted some disused barns on the farm and Windmill Stud was born and I began my full-time eventing career.

Julia Norman (GBR) riding CARRYON BOBBY BOY during the cross country phase of the CCI*** during the Ssangyong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials near Oxford in Oxfordshire, UK between 16th September 2017

Bobby and I at Blenheim

I’m very lucky to run my own yard, and have an amazing team — Hannah Quick, Alice Maundrell and Amy Mawson, who all do an amazing job in keeping the horses looking and feeling amazing.

Continued below…

I have had an exciting season so far, with my fifth advanced horse stepping up to the level, and some really exciting new horses adding to my team. I’m very lucky to have such amazing, supportive owners including Diana Wethered, Margaret Cuff, Sarah Ensor, Chas Bright, Caz Hewer, Edward and Elizabeth Fowler, and my dad, James Hussey.

I’m also very lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband, who loves the sport of eventing and is one of the most competitive people I know — he can normally be found at all my events with our golden Retriever Mango tethered to his hip and seemingly always knowing the scores before I do! He also owns one of the yard favourites, Metalbridge Harry.

That’s about all from me for now. Bobby and I will be having a cross-country school with Yogi Breisner before heading to Blair this week for the CCI4*-S for a steady final run before Burghley. All fingers crossed we both stay safely in one piece. Cotton wool and bubble wrap are all out!


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