By Aliki Kraterou
At 93, you might expect to see Margaret Bradshaw relaxing with a cup of tea on a cold autumn morning.
But the nonagenarian would rather warm up with her favourite hobby – horse riding.
The renowned botanist is the same age as the Queen, and shares Her Majesty’s favourite past time.
And despite her age, she loves nothing more than cantering around an arena practising her dressage moves with her loan horse Percy, a 15.3hh Thoroughbred, which she rides four or five times a week.
Dr Bradshaw, from Eggleston, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, said: “I don’t see what the fuss is all about really.
“I have always liked horses and horse riding.
“I would have loved to own a pony when I was a youngster because I grew up on a farm but times were really hard then and I didn’t get one.
“I then threw myself into my career and only started riding in my 50s.
“But it’s only the last 10 years I have really started working hard at it, I really want to master the art.
“I hope to get people who are older to keep active.
“I have had the odd fall but I just get straight back in the saddle.”
Margaret met her coach Sarah Tubbs, 44, about ten years ago, in 2009, when Margaret approached her and express her interest in horse riding.
Sarah, who is the owner of Marwood Equestrian, says that when the horse Margaret was previously riding, Freeman, sadly passed away due to heart attack, Margaret was insistent she wanted a horse ‘as responsive and with a similar character’.
She then posted an appeal on Facebook and that’s how they found Percy, the horse Margaret is riding today.
Margaret does dressage and she can do leg yields, rein back, shoulder-ins and although she is not as ‘athletic as she’d liked, she has only fallen once.
Although she has had a few injuries in the past, she hasn’t let that put her down and rides Percy 4-5 times a week for half an hour.
Sarah said: “She is highly successful in her profession and still very active.
“She doesn’t let any of her injuries hold her back – even though she fell off a horse a few weeks ago, she was right back on the saddle straight away.
“She doesn’t let any physical weaknesses let her down- she’s incredible.
“What’s amazing is that Margaret is happy to work through challenges.
“She is 93 and she wants to improve, she surely is an inspiration.
“I think she started in her 50s, she had a late start at horse riding because she was so passionate about her job but now she wants to ‘master the art’.
“She is definitely not at learning level , she can ride.
“She ‘s hoping to inspire other people in their 80s and 90s to be active, even if it’s horse riding or something else. “
Margaret is well known for dedicating the biggest part of her life into her research into the plants of upper Teesdale.
But she has always loved horses and eventually started spending time learning how to ride.
Margaret added: “I did some riding locally and then I discovered Sarah- she has been teaching me for about ten years.
“She describes my stage now as ‘learning the craft of riding’-at least I stay on the horse!
“I would advice other people my age to try horse riding if they really want to.
“If they are already doing it they should keep doing it, they shouldn’t think they can’t ride any longer because of their age- the Queen still rides and she is quite as old as me.
“It’s a good sport, it’s good for keeping you mobile, this why riding is so valuable because the horses movements are bigger from your own so it helps to move your own joints.
“It’s the equivalent of people running around the park for me- they go for their run, I go for my ride.”