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A spotlight on Heidi Sands

Old Pond: Tell us a bit about yourself Heidi
Heidi Sands: I was born in Lytham, Lancashire, on the Fylde, where I lived for 25 years before moving north to Moray. I live on a farm with my husband & our youngest daughter. We keep Herdwick sheep & native ponies and have lived here for 26 years.

OP: What are your interests?
HS:  I’m interested in all things to do with the countryside but in particular native ponies, Herdwick sheep and farming. I have ridden, owned and bred natives for over 40 years, my particular favourites are Fells ponies; I was secretary of the Scottish group of the Fell Pony Society for two years. I’m also rather keen on Exmoor ponies; they are delightful and full of character.

OP: So how did you get involved in writing?
HS:  During the 1980s I studied graphic design at art college in Blackpool, included in the course was an element for communication; that’s when I began to explore putting words and pictures together.  I also became interested in photography whilst at art college and had a super teacher; he encouraged us to think out of the box and it’s an aspect I still use.  Later on I put the communication and photography together to create illustrated articles for publication and ultimately books.

Almost 20 years ago I entered a competition to write a short farming story for children.  It was for the Miller Freeman Group (Roger Smith who founded Old Pond worked for them by coincidence) and I won. The editor at MF encouraged me to write more and although that particular story was never published it began my writing career.  I have subsequently been a recipient of several other awards for my writing. I currently write for a number of UK periodicals including Smallholder magazine, Home Farmer and Farming North where I have my own column.  I write about rural matters including equine and agricultural.

OP: So what influenced you to write Appleby
HS: When I was 11 years old my father bought me a pony called Gypsy.  He was a skewbald ride and drive and came from Appleby Horse Fair via a dealer.  We lived in Lancashire at the time and seeing horse drawn gypsy wagons or vardos wasn’t that uncommon.  The gypsy women used to call on my mother and often sold her pegs and my mother told us tales of seeing gypsy encampments behind her own father’s public house in Lancashire.  When I subsequently got the opportunity to see Appleby Fair for myself I jumped at the chance to see where my pony came from; the idea for my first Appleby book was deep rooted.

OP: Do you have plans for any future books
HS: I continue to work as a writer and photographer and would love to get my Appleby books to the overseas gypsy cob market, in particular the US, Canada and Australia where there is a huge following of these coloured horses.  A third Appleby book is a possibility but what form it may take is as yet uncertain. I also have 5 other books published with another two contracted.  

OP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself Heidi?
HS:  I still ride and have owned more than 20 horses and ponies in my life so far. My youngest daughter has inherited my love of horses and has gone on to make her own career with them. I have two grandchildren from my eldest daughter; who knows when they are old enough to sit on a pony, I may get the chance to teach them all about equines too.

Heidi's books about Appleby are available for purchase on our website now.  Check them out today:
Absolutely Appleby
The Horses of Appleby Fair

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