Penny’s Story

As a long term friend and follower of Equilibrium Products, we felt that we had to share Penny Hayward’s story.

The past few years have included a roller coaster of ‘ups and downs’ for Penny . Through adversity her horses have proven to be the best therapy giving her the motivation to carry on through illness and set backs.

Penny says

My association with Equilibrium Products began in 2011 when I entered a prize draw at Blenheim Horse Trials.  I was very taken with their Tri-Zone Boots and was hoping to win a set, instead I won the main prize – loads of goodies AND a lesson with Australian Event Rider, Sam Griffiths!  As if that wasn’t enough the lesson was to be featured in Eventing Magazine!  I’m pretty sure Laura Cutter, Equilibrium’s Marketing Manager, didn’t actually expect me to turn up as I’d had a serious fall and hadn’t left the ground in anger for about 5 years! I was petrified!  I needn’t have worried, Sam was awesome, the lesson was fantastic and I didn’t stop grinning for about a week afterwards!


Using the lesson with Sam as a springboard, I continued to jump my mare Spera and we competed on various teams for the Riding Club and we were even part of a Quadrille!

My beloved cob Jake came back into work after almost two years off and qualified for the BD Novice Music Winter Regionals in 2015 at the ripe old age of 21!  The following year we qualified for the Team Quest Regionals and were working towards the Music Regionals again.  All in all, the future was looking good.

Health Check

In January 2017, being a “lady of a certain age”, I went for my routine mammogram. Then the whirlwind hit!  Within days I had a recall letter, they’d found a small lump!  A series of tests and biopsies followed and before the month was out I was scheduled for surgery!  I had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed.  It was scary and sometimes painful but ultimately successful.  Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy were scheduled and I got through it all with the help of my friends and my animals!  Waking up to find more hair on my pillow than I had on my head was a real low point but I managed to keep riding and competed throughout.  Jake and I even performed a Dolly Parton medley for a Fancy Dressage Gala raising £750 for Macmillan and two placings at the BD Arab Championships.


On Wednesday 23rd of August I had my final Radiotherapy treatment!  To celebrate I bought Noah that very day!  Why?  Because life’s too short not to have the very pretty dun pony!  Ok, so buying an unbroken 3yo Connemara, unseen, from Ireland, might not be the most sensible thing I’ve ever done but what the heck!  I paid for him on Thursday and he arrived from Galway in the early hours of Friday morning so there was no time for buyer’s remorse!

Training Noah

Over the next few months I did a lot of ground work with Noah and in January he went to be backed by the team at Mount Pleasant Competition Ponies.  Fortunately, I was allowed to be part of the process at each step of the way.

As you will see from the beaming smile all over my chops – this was a very exciting moment!

At the end of five weeks Noah was ready to come home and begin his further education!

We hacked out over the next three weeks almost every day with a variety of friends riding shotgun on Jake.  At the beginning of March Noah was turned away until the end of May!

Whilst Noah was on sabbatical I began the task of updating my arena!  As my budget was very small, a lot of the work was done by me and Roger – including moving 8 tons of hard core by hand, laying the membrane and spreading 16 tons of carpet fibre surface without machinery!

The weather was seriously against us for most of the Spring and the job took far longer than anticipated but we were finally finished by the beginning of June!

In the Meantime…

Jake went lame in April!  It seems his dancing days may be over – he was experiencing some soft tissue problems in his hock which have now settled but might never be up to the strain of competition again – we have to wait and see.  At 24 he has more than done his bit and he will be a very hard act to follow. I hope Noah is up to the task!

New Puppy!

I got a Labrador puppy – I went for some “puppy therapy” at a friend’s house thinking all the puppies were sold only to find the one I’d fallen in love with was still looking for a home!  But not for long!  We welcomed Cooper into the family at the end of April.

And then….Ouch!

I got kicked in the face by my Welsh Section A!  He’d escaped into the arena and whilst I was chivvying him out up the slope he let go with both barrels!  According to A&E staff,  I was extremely lucky – I’d thrown my hands up to protect myself and in effect punched myself in the mouth!  I put my teeth through my lip, had a massive nosebleed and my left thumb was put back together with 17 steri-strips!  Had I not done so I would have had a broken nose, missing teeth and very probably a broken jaw!  For a day or two I was regretting the choice I made some 16 years ago – me or the meat man?

Long Hot Summer

As if to add insult to injury it is currently soooo hot I am hardly able to use the arena.  I’m out early most mornings – usually having mucked out 4, groomed 3, ridden 2 and lunged 1  by 10.30am each day!  Like most people, I’m finding this weather very tiresome.  Fortunately, I’m able to swim in a friend’s pool most days which is a very welcome respite!  The swimming is part of a diet and exercise regime that I’ve been on since February.  My Chemotherapy caused me to pack on the weight – the massive doses of steroids I was given made me permanently hungry and the anti-nausea meds meant I wasn’t sick so my weight ballooned!  It was quite some time before I felt physically able to go on a diet but I’ve now lost 2st 5lbs and have a mere 7lbs to go for my final goal weight!

Educating Noah

Noah’s progress has been steady but as I’m in no real rush I’m taking things nice and slowly.  This week he hacked alone for the first time and worked nicely over trotting poles before going “off road”.  Ok, so it was only a short walk along the stubble and a small stroll down the by-way but he was a very good boy!  Our next target is a trip to King’s EC to use their lovely arena complete with boards, flowers and mirrors, before our first dressage test and our first show both of which are in August!  I will keep you posted on our progress!

Pen xxx

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