If you missed India’s double page spread in EQ Life July edition (2015), catch up on what she had to say about her International experiences and some tips she has for budding young riders like herself:
Please explain what the Children on Horses team is and how you were selected?
I was selected for the Children On Horses team after having a successful campaign in the Children On Horses series so far this year. After a consistent show at Pony Of The Year Show, with Westwinds Ego coming 4th in both preliminaries and a respectable 2nd in the Grand Prix after going 5th in a 30 horse jump off, we had a good start to the year. The good form carried on at Chepstow International CSI** for the official European Viewing Trials starting the show with a 1st and 2nd with Valerie B and Westwinds Ego in the Two Phase. Westwinds Ego went on to win the A4 on the second day and Valerie B came 2nd in the Grand Prix after both horses jumped double clear in the Nations Cup format.
After these results, we were contacted by the BS and were invited to compete on the Children On Horses GB Squad at the Dutch Youngster Festival in Wierden CSIO. The Children On Horses class is for children aged 12-14 competing on horses.
What was it like to ride on the team in Holland?
It was an amazing experience to compete on the team in Holland. There was a lovely atmosphere with all of the teams supporting each other and the team spirits were high with us all being stabled together as a group. It was an incredible feeling to be representing my country, although I was quite relaxed and treated it like any other competition in order to perform at my best. Jumping double clear for the team, especially as Ego made it feel so easy and jumped perfectly, was a fantastic feeling.
How did you do as an individual and as a team?
On the opening day of competition for the Children’s CSIO jumping, both of my horses jumped double clear, with Valerie B taking 3rd place out of a big field of over 80 starters.
On Nations Cup day, Westwinds Ego jumped a foot perfect double clear and inside the time for the team, and after the second round the finished in 5th place. Unfortunately, there was not an individual competition for team members, but Ego was up there with one of few double clears.
On the final day, Valerie B picked up 10th place in the Children’s Speed class, and Westwinds Ego jumped a super round in the Grand Prix just having a foot in the water and as a result of that, one time fault.
Was this the first international event you have done? What is it like to travel abroad and ride for your country?
It was the first international show I have done abroad. The journey was daunting, more for my mum, Louise, than myself, as her first experience driving abroad for a long time and with the added challenge of a new lorry. Although the journey did not go quite to plan, due to rough seas stopping travel for the horses on the ferry, we got there eventually, with help from navigator and groom Donna Clayton, and both horses passed the trot up ready for competition the next day.
How did you prepare for the event – were you training anything specifically?
In preparation for the event, we decided to continue with our normal training regime. After receiving the excellent news that I had been selected with Ego for Wierden, we managed to get late entries to compete at the Suffolk Show the Thursday before. We had been busy competing the ponies at premier shows jumping the second round qualifiers for HOYS, so hadn’t had a chance to get the horses out jumping since Chepstow. Never the less, Ego jumped super in the 1m25 early Thursday morning, to come 7th in very good company. We then made the last minute decision to go to Houghton International to compete in the BS classes, as we had been told that the going there was great. It certainly was and Ego carried on his good form winning the 1m20.
What has been your highlight so far this year?
My highlight of the year so far has to be jumping double clear for Great Britain in Wierden in the Nations Cup. Although, Ego and I had already had several notable results this year, winning the Uttings Insurance Puissance and the invitational at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
What are you most looking forward too?
I am looking forward to a busy summer ahead, planned with lots of shows with the ponies and horses. My main aims are to qualify my novice pony, Ocelot II, for the Newcomers final at Horse Of The Year Show and hopefully to be selected to go to Austria to compete in the Europeans for Team GB.
What would your advice be for a young show jumper hoping to ride internationally?
My advice to any young showjumper, whether hoping to compete internationally or not, would be to work hard and learn to take the good with the bad. As my parents have always told me from a young age, horses are great levellers. One day you are on top of the world, and the next you fall back to the ground, sometimes quite literally, but that is all part of our sport and it is the highs that make it all worthwhile. This feeling is what pushes us to do better and improve all the time. Hard work and dedication is a must if you want to be successful with horses, you do not just have to keep yourself fit and healthy, but your horses too.
Many young riders are nervous of taking the leap from ponies to horses – what can you advise to reassure them to move onto horses?
In my experience, my first year on horses wasn’t the best, but it was an essential learning curve. I was 12 when I first started to compete my mum’s 17hh stallion, Vrielink Vans Gravenstafel, after dragging him out of the stable from retirement after getting bored of waiting for a suitable horse. Stan was just what I needed to start off my senior carrier, he was laid back and scopey, so he could help me out if we got in a ‘sticky’ situation. We jumped the Children On Horses series, setting me up well for this year with the added experience, and by the end of the year, we had got some good results, including jumping the Under 16 Championship at Scope and winning a National 1m30. For me, I didn’t find the move up to horses too daunting, as I had a lot of experience with different horses and ponies already. But I would advise to have get smaller horse to start with, one that is brave, honest and wants to jump, and like me, you might take a bit of time to get going.
In your opinion, how do horses differ from ponies? Do you find you struggle with the size of the horses?
I personally have not struggled with the size of horses due to being so tall. The difference between horses and ponies can be dramatic, but can also be discreet. All horses and ponies are different in their ways of going, and are ridden differently. Some ponies will go more like your ‘typical’ horse, where as some horses have a more ‘pony-like’ way of going. It can be difficult to combine the two, and obviously horses have bigger strides. It has helped me that I have been lucky enough to ride a variation of different horses and ponies with different ways of going, so I am used to changing from different types and sizes of horses. Although, even with this experience, I sometimes see the odd horse stride on the ponies!
Anything else you wish to add?
I would like to say a massive thank you to my family for their support throughout the years. My parents, Paul & Louise, do so much to enable myself and my sister, Atiya, to keep competing and doing our best. We also couldn’t do it without the support of our owners and sponsors, Breckland Farriers and Feedmark. These roles are an essential part of the team and without that support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We are always looking for potential owners and sponsors, so if you are interested in becoming part of the team, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to hear from you.