In 2013, owners Belinda and David Keir transformed Maidwell Lodge Farm from a cattle farm to an eventer’s. Consisting of barn-style Monarch stabling, facilities include wash-down areas, solarium, rug room, feed room — and a tack room so large that it must have its own postcode! In addition, there is a quarantine block, spa, weighing machine, horse walker and a superb 60×40 metre manège, lunge pen, lots of paddocks, cross country fences and a four-furlong gallop; it really is a top-notch equestrian yard.
On my arrival at Maidwell, a smiling Piggy was finishing a Pilates class in her vast tack room — as if 25 horses were not enough to keep her fit! The yard is immaculate and an absolute tribute to her team. Happy and gleaming horses peered inquisitively over their doors as we passed. All the stables have a large window at the rear, enabling the inhabitants to look outside, too. The views from every angle of the yard are truly breathtaking, a rolling patchwork-quilt of Northamptonshire countryside extending as far as the eye can see.
Pilates completed, we head out to the manège where Piggy rides one of the young horses on the flat, Geoff Burton’s eight-year-old I Diablo Joe — a combination that won five of their 10 outings in 2020 and wrapped up the season in third place at the Osberton at Thoresby International and Young Horse Championship CCI-S YH3*. Since my visit, Piggy has ridden this talented horse to first place in the Open Intermediate section at Burnham Market International on 26 penalties — more than 10 penalties ahead of the runner up!
Being a spectator in Piggy’s manège really does make you feel as though you are on top of the world. Piggy’s description of it as “an infinity manège” is most apt. As I enjoyed watching and photographing what felt like a flatwork masterclass from Piggy, a half dozen of her horses were enjoying the sunshine while being hand-grazed, the grooms chatting, watching Piggy and one even reading a book. Piggy explains that she “likes the horses to leave their stables at least twice a day”. In fact her Badminton winner Tilly, aka Vanir Kamira, spends the majority of her time in the field where she is happiest; true to form, the mare just about manages a brief smile in my direction as Piggy points her out to me in a paddock close to the yard.
Piggy talks with great warmth about all of her horses. Watching her recent video diaries, it is clear to all that she spends a great deal of time working on her individual relationship with each horse in the yard. It is fair to say that her methods are very successful, spanning newly-broken to five-star horses. In addition to her numerous successes to date, I feel there are many more to come from this lady. Unlike some sports, eventing athletes are able to compete into their 50s and 60s; New Zealand’s Sir Mark Todd being the obvious seemingly ageless rider to spring to mind.