Incorporating Darmanin Stables and Darmanin Equine Consultants
Lucy Darmanin started riding at the age of nine, when her first riding lesson was given to her as a birthday present by her parents.
They had been advised to find her a sport which challenged her both mentally and physically by doctors, as she had a medical condition, which caused her to have blackouts without warning. Needless to say, this medical condition ceased almost immediatly when she took up the sport on a regular basis.
She went riding every week at Llanfrechfa Riding School, first just for an hour, but within a couple of months was staying all day, riding for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
Starting on the lead with "Smokey", and then progressing through the different class levels, first with "Sparky" then moving onto mares "Starlight", "Kim" and "Charm" amongst others. Whilst at riding school, Lucy learnt most of the basic riding skills, and it was here that she first took part in Cross Country, which was to become her favourite of all the equestrian disciplines. It was here, that she also began to prefer riding mares to geldings, finding them more enjoyable and challenging to ride.
It was after she had been riding for four years that she acquired her first horse. "Babe" as she was nicknamed, was a quiet, undernourished mare that had been found by a local dealer. The mare had been badly neglected, and it was several years before Lucy was able to get her through a winter without losing too much weight.
The neglect also caused another problem. Babe's hooves were very brittle and one of her front feet had developed a large crack which was an inch wide at the base and split the hoof from top to bottom.
However, with corrective shoeing, and 15 months of patience, the mare became fit to ride, but she was no longer quiet and placid. In fact, she had turned into a strong-willed, unpredictable handful, a typical "chestnut mare"!
Now 15 years old, Lucy had a battle of wills with her completely different horse. The mare was now well fed and up to full body weight and had increased two inches in height.
After six months of bruising falls (and learning to stay on) Lucy was on the verge of giving up and selling the mare after being dragged under the branches of several trees in her field, when friends suggested that she take her to a local gymkhana.
Lucy had been teaching the mare to jump and agreed. At the gymkhana she took part in the games, but the mare was a little too big and exitable for bending and the flag race, and refused twice in the jumping, but Lucy decided to try her luck at "Chase-me-Charlie", a high jump event over a single fence.
The fence went higher and Babe kept
jumping, eventually coming second to a
16.2 hunter after jumping nearly four feet.
Offers came for the mare, but Lucy had
changed her mind, success had given her
the confidence to continue.
In fact, Babe became known as 'the horse
to beat' in future competitions, and Lucy
frequently had to clear heights of over
four feet, in order to win.
"Babe" gained a jumping name, "Rio
Dancer", and although it was a few years
before success came in the main jumping ring, Lucy never gave up and built up a partnership with her 15 hh mare that saw them doing well at many shows in the local area, Lucy's first love remained cross country, and she achieved some excellent results in this field, both individually and in pairs classes, with friends, but not in dressage - Rio hated it and used to gallop off to the gate after just a few canter circles!
Whilst still at school, Lucy worked for a short time at a local racing stable. This experience left her in good stead for the future, as she learnt a great deal about getting horses fit for such strenuous work, and also about specialist feeding routines and blood testing, as well as helping to train young horses to prepare them for racing. However, there was a side effect - for some time Lucy did not feel comfortable riding in long stirrups!
When Lucy left school after doing her 'A' levels, she at first wished to join the Avon and Somerset police, where she had hoped to specialise in the mounted division after completing her first two years. This was prompted by her experience in Holland, where she had spent a day at the mounted police stables near Alkmaar - arranged for her by her uncle, who was also a policeman. He also paid for her to have some jumping lessons from a former Dutch team member. 'Ome Harry', as Lucy came to know him, took the basic knowledge that she had learnt at riding school and taught her more specialist knowledge, how to judge a stride, walk a course correctly, find a line through a sequence of fences, and how to find the shortest route in a jump-off course. Upon application to the police, she found out that there was a three year waiting list and turned instead to the RAF.
It was during her basic RAF training, that Lucy first took part in an eventing competition. As Rio hated dressage, Lucy had dismissed her from one day events, taking part in show jumping and cross country (Hunter Trials) only. Here however, on an RAF horse called Shogun, she was able to take part in an RAF championship, representing RAF Cranwell, the first officer cadet to do so for over 25 years. After finishing her training and leaving the RAF, she took her newly gained experience and put Rio into a few one-day-events, accepting that her dressage score would never be one of the best, but realising that her jumping would bring her up into a higher position. In her last one-day-event (coincidently held at RAF Cranwell), where she represented the RAF St Athan saddle club team, she finished in the top 15.
After leaving the RAF, Lucy decided to
put Rio in foal to a local stallion called
"Gaudy Royal". Descended from the
"Great Nephew" line, Lucy hoped that
the foal would be good enough to train
up for eventing, with stamina and good
character from Rio, and an increase in
height and speed from Roy, as the sire
Unfortunately, after the foal was born,
he suffered a serious accident, so
severely damaging the hock area of his
near hind leg, that it was doubtful if
Lucy would ever be able to ride him, let alone jump him. Patience won the day, and although Lucy realised he would never become the event horse she wanted, "Sunset Samurai", or "Sam" as he was known, not only went on to jump, but also to play a little beginners polo. It was 6 months after Sam was born that Lucy went on a holiday with her parents to Malta for a family holiday, and it was here she first met the Darmanin family.
To cut a long story short, Lucy spent the next three years flying back and for, between Malta and Wales every six months, until 1996, when she moved to Malta permanently, however she was not alone! Along with her came not only Rio and Sam, but also Tammy and Lord, two extra horses, one for the riding school, with which Lucy was to become fully involved, teaching mainly jumping and some basic dressage, the other for Ann Darmanin, her future Mother-in-Law. Lucy encouraged many clients into taking part in competitions,and also continued to compete herself with excellent results. She joined the local riding club and assisted with organising local events, and also with husband Mark a 50th Anniversary show, for the riding school and novices polo tournament .
Sadly, Rio, Sam and Lord are no longer around, but Lucy continues to teach and Tammy is still a very central character in the stable. Lucy now splits her time between teaching, both English and riding and exercising husband Mark's polo ponies.
Lucy is also secretary of the La Vallette Riding Club and assisting as a representative on the Malta Equestrian Federation committee.
Currently competing with novice horses
Sundancer and Tottillaz in Prelim Dressage
and 60/70cm Jumping.
Lucy Darmanin and 17.3 hh Irish Heavyweight Hunter, "Poirot". Lucy competed with this horse succesfully in Intermediate Hunter Trials and One Day Events, after returning home from the RAF.