Welham Lane Livery at Dimlicote Farm is run by Mary and Chris Weston, and their daughter Helen. Mary was taught to ride by her mother when she was four years old and has had horses ever since. As a child she belonged to the Fernie Pony Club and took part in as many activities as she could, including the very first Fernie Pony Club Camp hosted at Bringhurst. Showing was a major summer activity and success in gymkhana and show pony classes, whilst the chief winter activity was hunting with the Fernie and Cottesmore Hunts.
When Mary was old enough to drive her father’s cattle lorry to transport horses, Mary and her mother took up Long Distance Riding (the forerunner of Endurance) – they had always been keen on hacking in different areas and loved maps. Mary competed in the Golden Horseshoe three times achieving first a Silver and then two Golds. In 1973 Mary was introduced to ‘Driving’ a pony and trap. This quickly spawned an interest in Horse Driving Trials and Mary achieved many successes in the ‘Single Pony’ Classes including 2nd in the National Championships. Showing the Pony and Ralli Cart in Private Driving Classes resulted in a lovely photograph of Mary driving past the Royal Box at Windsor with The Queen waving to her.
Mary’s competitive career was interrupted by teaching her 3 daughters to ride and then taking them to Pony Club Rallies and Events and Pony Club Polo. A love of maps and riding in various parts of the UK persisted and when the girls had left home Mary joined the Leicestershire and Rutland Bridleways Association and started to work for the British Horse Society in the Access and Rights of Way Department. To bolster these two activities she recruited Janet Benskin and Alex Pyper and together they organised the ‘Round Rutland’ and ‘Round Leicestershire’ Rides to publicise the need for joining up the network of Bridleways – each 50-60 mile section taking three or four days during Access Week at the end of May.
A love of hacking and interest in maps was destined to generate an interest in TREC which Mary heard about in 1998. She took part in, and won, the first competition held in England and has been ‘hooked’ ever since. Seven boards of rosettes now adorn the family home and several trophies for championships won individually or for pairs with one or other daughter. Second daughter, Anna, was on the GB Team competing in World and European Championships from 2006 to 2014.
When the British Horse Society decided to relinquish TREC, Mary started TREC GB with eight other like-minded competitors. She was the first Chairman and is still actively involved with the Board and as an Organiser and TD (chief judge) of competitions each year. In 2018 Mary and Anna were Reserve Champions in Level 2A and second in the League at that level while Helen and her riding partner won the Level 3 League.
Mary’s daughter Helen started riding at the age of 5, borrowing a pony owned by friends of Mary’s, so she doesn’t really remember learning! She was given her first pony, an 11.2hh Shetland x Welsh Section A called Mighty Mouse, at the age of 7. Helen was a keen member of the Fernie Pony Club and credits their rallies with putting the polish on her riding skills. During her time in the Pony Club she attended camp every summer and took part in showing, dressage, show jumping, eventing training and events. She also hunted for several seasons with various ponies while a teenager. Helen joined a long distance ride organised by Alex Pyper in 1994 (aged 15) from Radcliffe on Soar power station to Great Bowden and took up her mother’s love of exploring the countryside on horseback.
Helen wasn’t able to have a horse of her own while away at school and university, but regularly borrowed horses belonging to other members of the family when at home. After joining the Royal Navy in 2001, she bought a horse of her own a couple of years later, choosing a TB mare called Barley.
Helen and Barley were involved in riding with the Navy, attending several showjumping training camps, and also joined Mary (and younger sister Anna) in competing in TREC from 2002. Helen is a prolific former and reigning champion, having held all 4 domestic Championships titles at Level 3 simultaneously in 2007. She is currently reigning Level 3 Pairs League champion, and also acts as organiser, TD (senior judge) and judge at events across the country.
Helen’s current mare, Willow, was bred by Mary from her own much loved Connemara mare, Floss, and was given to Helen as a wedding present in 2009. Helen and Willow have concentrated mainly on TREC over their competitive career together, but have also dabbled in dressage, showjumping and eventing.
Helen left the Royal Navy in 2007 and went into teaching. She currently teaches Chemistry at Oakham School so fits her riding and competing in around the demands that Oakham places on her time, as well as being a wife and mother to Henry and Katie (7 and 5). She and her husband James have built their own house in 2019 and Helen is also Treasurer of Central TREC Group and a Board member of TREC GB.