SHE LEFT home 34 years ago to get away from horses - and has spent most waking moments since organising equestrian events.
Clearly, it hasn't turned out as Leslie 'Desi' Dillingham quite expected.
For a start, the lady from Maida Vale is currently practising her curtsy for the day soon when she and Her Majesty hunker down to talk 'horss' because Dillingham is getting an MBE awarded her in the new year's list.
Known to everyone in UK eventing and dres-sage circles as Desi (her baby brother couldn't get his tongue around Leslie),
Dillingham has raised millions for her beloved sport, and has done it all for free while running her recruitment business in tandem.
In the world of equestrianism, she's left a mark which moved the supposed snotty sport out of financial constraints in Britain to the point where the Desi stamp on any event, be it local or Olympic, is better than a kite mark.
It helps when you take to organising as a horse to oats, and can type 100 words a minute...."oh, and of course I'm passionate about horses. In one respect they're better than humans - they don't answer back," she joked.
Desi Dillingham arrived from her native Canada ready to get stuck into her new job for a recruitment agency in 1973, but within weeks was an instructor at Knightsbridge Barracks and re-organising the Civil Service Riding Club.
"My flatmate knew all about my horse background," she explains, "and volunteered me. But I was pretty soon captivated by rides around the Royal Mews, Hyde Park and all that..."
Pretty soon after, she started organising competitions in Kensington Palace Gardens, and from then on her achievements have heaped one on top of the other like so many certificates at a gymkhana.
But, Dillingham admits that as good as she is at raising money for her sport, judging it, and organising it, there's still a hefty commitment for any parent wanting their child to get in the saddle.
She said: "I guess it's the same for any sport. Financially, it's going to cost a skater, a skier even a footballer.
"But I would tell any parent whose child is keen to event they're going to understand the nature of healthy sporting competition; they're going to enjoy camaraderie, and they're going to have the vital life lesson of caring and being responsible for another living thing."