As sports venues go, Gower Riding Club is no Millennium Stadium. There are no seats for a start, unless you count saddles. It is, in fact, nothing more than a large sloping field accessed by a shaded, tree-lined dirt track off the North Gower Road near Swansea in South Wales. The clubhouse, while I rode there at least, was a single-storey white building, no larger than a decent-sized mobile home housing toilets, tuck shop and little office where a lady took entries on show days.
There was enough room for a good-sized cross-country course and three competition rings boasting the dressage or showing, the main jumping classes and clear-round. It was not grand but it was my theatre of dreams. I would be so excited before a show I would stay awake rehearsing each jump in my mind, even up to the part where I collected the winning rosette, the accompanying £15 (Dh81) that sometimes went with first place and, as all the youngsters did then and probably still do now, flat-out galloped the lap of honour to the Horse of the Year Show music they played through loudspeakers in a way no professional showjumper would ever countenance.
Sometimes I really would be leading that lap of honour and just like my night-time rehearsal, would go so fast in celebration that often the rosette would be ripped from my pony's bridle by the wind. Other times I would be bitterly disappointed, ruing a silly mistake until the next show. Ramsen, a lush green leaf related to garlic, grows in the woods at the bottom of the field and we used to put it in our breakfast omelettes.
To this day I still associate the smell of garlic with my happy days at Gower Riding Club. * Sarah Tregoning