In The Saddle column: Why you've got to jump at the key moments in life

Many of you know I’ve started riding my young Appaloosa ‘Sully’ this year, age four. He’s been a complete darling to work with and although he’s not a plod type of horse; he is a pretty quick learner and tries.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 1:46 pm

To ensure I keep up his education and cement our ridden partnership, I’ve been taking regular lessons with Harriette Rushton.

You might remember Sully went to Harriette’s to complete his starting process. I’d got him to the point where I had the first sit on him and the first walk thanks to my wonderful friend Ellen. Harriette took him to prepare him for his future ridden career; working with him over the course of six weeks at her yard teaching how to trot and canter.

She’s a true expert in this area and I trust her completely. I’d done a lot of research into her and made sure she was the right person for us.

Harriette Rushton goes clear.

I’d met her well in advance and she had come to our home to meet Sully. It’s very hard to let go of the control of Sully. I’ve had him from a foal and have known him since he was three months old, so I’m very precious about who helps me.

Harriette has a lot of experience for such a young woman. Make no mistake though - the girl knows her stuff. She’s already running her own yard at the age of 22 where she takes in horses for starting, competition training, lessons and clinics in showjumping. She’s a stage two showjumper and competes abroad. This young woman is one to watch.

It’s been a tricky year in the equestrian world for competing. Harriette, like many of us, has been waiting for everything to start up safely. Recently she was able to get to the Bosworth Young Horse Show.

The five day young horse showcase was held recently in August in the stunning grounds of Bolesworth Castle, home of the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show and featured 4, 5, 6 and 7 year old classes incorporating the World Breeding Jumping Championship Qualifiers for 2021.

Harriette took four horses there to compete. Claxon van de Bosweg, Kronos V, I Am Legend Z and Bencas. All young horses with a huge amount of potential.

Claxon Van De Bosweg jumped a stunning clear round on the first day of the seven year old class. Kronos V also showcased his talent jumping perfectly clear in the five year old class, just missing out on a placing in a very tough class.

Harriette took I Am Legend Z into the 110cm class and he went on to go clear twice out of three rounds bringing home an incredible fourteenth place out of ninety nine talented horses.

Bencas also jumped a superb round, but had the last fence down on two of the days. He held the leading time though. Super fast horse who is a pleasure to watch.

Harriette was delighted with the results of her horses, not only because they hadn’t been out much this year but because the competitors were of such a high standard. She told me they held their own in very big classes. Well, that’s all you can ask for in my opinion.

Harriette’s career has always been a family affair, with her mum taking her into the show ring at just eighteen months old. Her family are lovely; down to earth and friendly. It was no surprise that her mum went with her to support her and be her groom. The two of them have a wonderful relationship; hope I have this with Alyssia in the future too.

Events are run very differently now in these times. I’ve experienced that taking my daughter out competing. Bosworth, like all other completions, followed all safety guidelines and the course walk was competed social distance style with masks.

It’s been a strange year so far. I managed to get Sully back from Harriette’s a week before social distancing was introduced. Then we went into lockdown and I as at home with the horses. I know there was a split on how people felt about riding, but I continued to mooch about at home on my youngster to keep him ticking over. It’s personal preference.

I’m hoping we don’t face another lock down as Harriette is an important help in making sure Sully and I progress. I sometimes feel for her when I say ‘I’d rather not do that,’ but she seems to totally ignore me and I do it anyway. Then I feel ten foot tall. She knows exactly how far to push me. When to hold back.

I’m not a great rider, nor an experienced rider. I’ve not had ponies as a child. I’m never going to be in the Olympic team but every day I try to push myself and do something new with Sully which pushes my boundaries.

Sometimes I’m brave, sometimes I’m scared. I’m not perfect, I’ll never be that but no-one can love their horses more than I can and trust me no-one can be more critical of my riding than me.

I’ve learned in life you’ve just got to saddle up and enjoy the moment - be it on my old mare or my young gelding. Both give me great pleasure. Both teach me patience, kindness and remind me what great souls animals are to be around.

We all need an outlet. Horses are mine. Find yours and do what makes you happy. Life is short.