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Living Our Dream - Pine Grove Stable

Updated on November 10, 2014
Dressage Husband profile image

At 6 Stephen fell for a small Shetland Pony abused by other children, and often fed him his lunch. So began a lifetime love of horses.

The Flying Scotsman

Th Flying Scotsman
Th Flying Scotsman | Source

Pine Grove Stable - Our Lifetime Dream

This Lens was inspired by the Squidoo challenge to write a lens about your biggest unfulfilled dream. Pine Grove Stable and all that it involves is our biggest dream and as yet it is not fully fulfilled. For me the dream began as a small boy living in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom. I used to walk to school alongside the railway tracks for the famous "Flying Scotsman" the beautiful old steam engine that pulled a first class train of Pullman carriages between London and Edinburgh. I went to Long Benton Church of England School and was taught by Miss Carr who was very strict! She would hit us with the sharp edge of a ruler on the back of our knuckles if we ever misbehaved.

Anyway, alongside the track there was a farm and on the farm was an old dark chestnut Shetland pony, he was moody and grumpy because the kids would all tease him and throw stones at him etc. I started feeding him the long grass and dandelions from the railway side of the fence and little by little he came to trust me. So I would save the apple from my school lunch and started to feed him them on the way home. The pony started to trust me and would come over to me whenever he saw me coming I formed quite a bond with that old pony. One day the farmer saw me doing it and he was surprised he said that the pony was unreliable and never liked anyone before! I was not surprised as the kids had taught him that all people were bad.

That was the beginning of my dream to one day keep beautiful Happy Horses that would never be abused.

Meanwhile several thousand miles away in Canada a baby girl was born (six years after me). She seemed to always have a fascination with anything horse related and would run around on home made hobby horses wishing one day to have one to ride, and maybe to have a place to keep her own.

The years passed and as a teenager now living in Harpenden Hertfordshire I started to clean cars to earn pocket money. One of my clients kept race horses and I would feed them treats in the barn whenever I could. I would cycle around the county (Hertfordshire) and feed all the horses I could find, there were several stables and most of the horses were thoroughbred race horses. They would all be friendly with me and would let me pet them scratch their noses and always awaited my visits with carrots or apples for them.

Across the Atlantic in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada the young lady Shauna was finding ways to pay for riding lessons at the Junior Bengal Lancers, a charitable trust set up to teach children to ride and as the name suggests to eventually ride in a musical ride inspired by the Bengal Lancers. She went on to become their youngest ever head instructor.

This lens is the story of how we met, married and started to live out our dreams.

Flying Scotsman Picture courtesy of

King Faisal Hospital Riyadh

King Faisal Hospital Riyadh Saudi Arabia
King Faisal Hospital Riyadh Saudi Arabia | Source

How We Eventually Met

The Dream Begins to Crystalise

The years were rolling past I studied Maths and Computer Science at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, studied accountancy at Price Waterhouse and eventually became a Computer Systems Auditor. I married and gradually worked my way up to becoming the Head of Computer Audit for the Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance company (then just Sun Alliance).

This is where things started to go wrong as the result of a period of illness I lost the job and ended up applying for and getting a job as a Computer Audit Manager at the Saudi French Bank (Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi) in Riyadh Saudi Arabia..

Back in Canada Shauna was out manouvered by a new instructor at the Lancers and resigned. She studied Physiotherapy and after several years applied for and got a job as a Physiotherapist at The King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

When I arrived in Riyadh my boss was on the committee of the Riyadh Megamob Hash House Harriers a running group that arranges social runs and walks in the desert outside of Riyadh as a way for the Western expatriates to socialise (it was illegal for unmarried men and women to meet in Saudi Arabia).Dick was at that time the Hash brew-master, and he had also been the Hash Rides.

I started going to the Hash every week and at some point met and made friends with the members of the Riyadh Third Herd Hash. Several colleagues from the Bank also were members of the Third Herd and I became a Committee Member first doing Hash maps (the important job of choosing a map for the next weeks Hash and ensuring each member receives it and keeps it secure (We did not want the Hash to be raided by the Matawah - Saudi religious police). After a while I became the Hash Rides (we arranged for transport for the girls, who are not allowed to drive in KSA). This involved arranging for the single men and families with larger AWD vehicles to pick up the single girls at the hospitals to attend the Hash.

One of the hospitals we picked up at was the King Faisal,the pick up point was in the middle of the road that crosses the picture from left to right, the residences are in the foreground and the hospital main buildings are on the far side of the road. The main highway can just be seen running across the bottom right corner of the picture.

I first became aware of Shauna as a pair of bright blue eyes smiling at me from the centre of the back seats of my Mitsubishi Pajero on the way to a Third Herd Hash. I now think from that point on my fate had been sealed! Not that I am complaining.

It just so happened that Shauna's boss was also a Third Herd Hasher and she was soon persuaded to try doing the Hash as this is the way that you stay in touch with the expatriate social scene in Riyadh.

There Are Issues Living In Riyadh

Many of you may be aware that living in Saudi Arabia has its darker moments. This is the story of what could have happened to us. William Sampson did many of the things that we also did living in Riyadh, he was just the unlucky one that was caught by the Mutawah who tried to make an example of him. To put it in context at that time the Al Qaida movement was just getting itself established and many young Saudis were being converted to their cause and going to the training camps in Afghanistan run by Osama Bin Laden.

No wonder the Saudi authorities seized on this opportunity to distract the Worlds Press from investigating their larger issues.

Saudi Arabian Related Items From Amazon

Confessions of an Innocent Man
Confessions of an Innocent Man

This is the story of a Hash member and socialite who through his penchant for a drink or two managed to get on the wrong side of the Muttawah! This is the film made of these events.


William Sampsons Own Story

Sadly William is no longer with us he died young, after suffering heart failure, caused in no small part from the torture and brutalization (including sodomy), that he endured while in a Saudi jail.

William Samson's Confessions Of An Innocent Man

Confessions of an Innocent Man: Torture and Survival in a Saudi Prison
Confessions of an Innocent Man: Torture and Survival in a Saudi Prison

This is the book written mainly in William Sampsons own words. It is not for those who have delicate stomachs!


Help To Make Your Dreams Come True

A little help to get you on your way to making your dreams come true. It requires a plan and like anything some hard work to make it happen. Just remember, never let anyone steal your dream. The most successful people all know it is not work when you are living your dream!

It Was Not Easy But This Is Where We Are Now

Life was not easy I was still in my first marriage and undergoing a long and difficult divorce. Shauna was Canadian and I was British and to make matters worse I was dating an English nurse at that time!

However love will find a way. I actually left Riyadh and returned home to England where my mother was gradually declining in health from a lifetime of health related issues. She died shortly afterwards.

Shauna took a position looking after the ailing Saudi Queen in LA, but we stayed in touch by Email. That exchange made Sleepless in Seattle look tame.

I had a job with a British Bank working as an Treasury IT Audit Specialist and a house and flat that I sublet in Wimbledon.

When the Saudi Queen died Shauna returned to Riyadh and we were still in touch. She decided to come and live in England with me in the house in Wimbledon.

That did not work out, she was missing her horse in Nova Scotia and she found London claustrophobic. It did not help that she had a failed pregnancy and we got married on October 10 1999 just a few months after she had arrived. There was too much change and chaos in our lives.

She flew home to Dartmouth Nova Scotia and I followed her arriving 29th December 1999 having quit a well paid job and leaving behind the financial security of two dream properties in Wimbledon, where I had been set for life.

Not long after I arrived the stable where she boarded her horse Nate (Native Mint) decided to stop taking board and we had to move the horse.

This led to a major search for new board the first did not last very long and a new search ensued. We found a place which had a run down house but a fabulous facility for the horses. The owners inspired us and thus our own search for a suitable property began.

We drove over a lot of the province looking for a place for Nate, which we eventually found. We bid on it subject to selling our property in Cole Harbour (Dartmouth). Of course someone else made an unconditional offer and we had to decide whether to take on a second mortgage to remove our condition. We did, but our first home did not sell so we had to rent it out for 6 months and re-market it. Finally it did sell and we could start building our dream.

Of course nothing was easy Shauna tired herself out commuting and we had contractor issues, but that is another story. This is home and where we are now.

Pictures From Pine Grove Stable

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Watching The Early Morning Sunrise From The Driveway August 2012The Main Field As Seen From The Stable At 6:30am on an August MorningThe Stable And Arena (Top Right)The Stable Under Construction (2003)
Watching The Early Morning Sunrise From The Driveway August 2012
Watching The Early Morning Sunrise From The Driveway August 2012 | Source
The Main Field As Seen From The Stable At 6:30am on an August Morning
The Main Field As Seen From The Stable At 6:30am on an August Morning | Source
The Stable And Arena (Top Right)
The Stable And Arena (Top Right) | Source
The Stable Under Construction (2003)
The Stable Under Construction (2003) | Source

Poll On Saudi Arabia

Have You Ever Lived In Saudi Arabia?

See results

Saudi Items On eBay

eBay is a great source for finding unusual and collectible items, many Saudi items are not readily available as the country is one of the last closed countries on earth. You can only go by invitation of a Saudi or if you have a working sponsor. Even then there is a lot of paperwork required, which will require many trips to one of their embassies.

Expatriates that have been will often sell memorabilia on eBay after they return home.

Let Us Know What You Think About Pine Grove Stable - Or Anything You May Have To Say About Our Experiences

Submit a Comment

  • Dressage Husband profile image

    Stephen J Parkin 2 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    Thank you, I hoped so and I wish Christians and Muslims could learn to live together in peace.

  • CrisSp profile image

    CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

    I am so sorry about William Sampsons. I've heard a lot of horrible stories from people who has lived in KSA, including my dad and my hubby. Lucky, none of them had any such bad luck.

    I'm glad you're living your dream now. Your story is quite inspirational and motivational. Good hub!

  • Dressage Husband profile image

    Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    That will get you there it is just a matter of time and taking those opportunities when they appear.

  • JenwithMisty profile image

    Jen withFlash 3 years ago

    Thanks for this inspirational and motivational message! I will keep dreaming, praying, and working hard at it :)

  • Dressage Husband profile image

    Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    I have found that if you wish for something hard enough and plan to do it even if only in your dreams then the doors that once blocked you will open one by one until you have the dream. So keep dreaming and stay focused on your inner desires. Good luck, not that you will need it now it is almost inevitable. When you are stuck pray, God will answer it, although you may not at first see how he did that but he will.

  • JenwithMisty profile image

    Jen withFlash 3 years ago

    You are so lucky! I have 2 horses now and I wish more than anything that I could afford my own place to keep them plus a few others. I'm working on it though :)