Fitness queen Rosemary Conley CBE is best known for her best-selling diet book and fitness videos in a career that has lasted almost 50 years. She talks to Your Horse about Olympic eventing, procrastination and falling over at Buckingham Palace.

What is your horsey background?

‘Horse’ was the very first word I wrote as a four-year-old and that sums up my early passion for horses. I remember reading Black Beauty and being obsessed by these magnificent animals. I started riding when I was about six but sadly never showed any talent. However, the passion was there.

What is your most memorable riding moment?

Having split up from my first husband the year before, I met my now husband, Mike, in 1983 on a group pony trekking weekend in the Brecon Beacons. I was so impressed that he could rise to the trot within 20 minutes, despite never having sat on a horse in his life. Three years later we were married. We bought two horses of our own in 1985 which was the fulfilment of a dream for me.

You sponsored a Team GB rider in the past, how did that come about?

In the late ‘80s, early ‘90s our life changed dramatically as my diet books and fitness videos became best-sellers across the world. We moved to a beautiful Manor house in the Leicestershire countryside with 47 acres of land and a cottage in 1996.

We had started having professional riding lessons with three-day eventer Gary Parsonage and his then partner, Gemma, and we became friends. We learned that Gary was being considered for Team GB for the Atlanta Olympics and needed a sponsor. We then decided to build a 20-stable block with an Olympic size ménage and Gary and Gemma moved on site together with their 10-plus horses including our own two.

Looking out of our windows and seeing these prime athletes grazing on our land was the most glorious sight.

Are you still involved now?

Gary was selected and we all went to Atlanta to see him compete. Great Britain came fourth and Gary’s horse, Magic Rogue, was amazing. What an experience! However, by 2001 our life had become so hectic that we had to bring our interest in eventing to a close, but I look back on those five years with enormous fondness with lots of wonderful memories.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

The only job I can ever remember saying I wanted to be was a bus conductor, because I loved clicking the tickets!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I love making a difference to people’s health and fitness. Now in my 70s, I realise more than ever how precious life is and we really should look after ourselves. I’d like to think that a lot of people today are slimmer, fitter and happier because they have followed my advice.

What is your writing process?

When I have a writing project I am very focussed and quite productive. My tendency is to procrastinate before I get started and that is something I have to fight against. Once I get going, there’s no stopping me. I always finish at 5pm though and rarely work in the evenings.

I have loved working on my latest book ‘The 28 Day Immunity Plan’. It is so important that we eat fresh healthy food and stop eating snacks and junk, we need to lose weight if we are overweight, and it is vital that we stay active. If we do that, we have a far better chance of fighting Coronavirus and surviving if we are unfortunate enough to contract it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A “no” now doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever. I auditioned four times before I was finally accepted onto Dancing on Ice in 2012. I desperately wanted to be on the show. In the end, I wrote to Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill and pleaded – it worked! It was the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life and I loved every second of the experience. I was 65 when I was on the show and, having reached week six, I remain the oldest celebrity to stay in the competition that far. My professional partner, Mark Hanretty, was the best I could have had. We are still close friends today and I still skate with him.

What is the funniest moment in your career?

When I fell down the stairs at Buckingham Palace when I was on the way to the ladies. It was on the day I received my CBE from Prince Charles in 2004. Thankfully I was unhurt and only my pride, not my hat, was dented.

Do you have any pets?

Two black Labradors, BB and Sky.

What’s your go-to foodie treat?

I am careful when I food shop because I could be tempted. If there was any ice cream in the freezer, I would eat it.

Rosemary’s latest book ‘The 28 Day Immunity Plan’ is designed to help people boost their immune system to help them fight the Coronavirus pandemic. This latest work is an eBook and is available to download from Amazon (£2.99). Rosemary is donating all royalties to NHS Charities Together.