When I was a gal I was pony mad and during summer weekends went to horse shows to compete in gymkhana and show jumping competitions. My sister, Christine Hardinge was the first one to get the horsey bug and aged about four I followed in her slipstream. She has made a career from horsemanship alongside her husband, Colin. Her career boasts major successes at top three-day-events and she has competed and won prizes at Badminton Horse Trials which most riders can only ever dream of achieving. See her impressive eventing credentials here.
Recently, I’ve felt very nostalgic for those bygone, halcyon days of the gymkhana and have taken up show-jumping again. I have weekly lessons at the Hollandsche Manege and my sister, Chris recenly let me have a little jump around her school at home on the lovely, Crown Meteorite aka, ‘Rocket.’ See film above.
When I was in my teens I was very brave and the height of the jump never bothered me. In fact the higher the better. Nowadays, I’m quite a bit more cautious and riding-school horses are a whole different ball game anyway. The secret to show jumping over bigger fences is establishing a relationship of mutual trust with your horse and this is difficult with just weekly contact. The horse and you need to know each other so well that you become one unit. When that trust is established, the rider feels the sensation of flying over fences which makes show jumping such a satisfying and thrilling sport.
Below a photo of my old 14.2 h.h pony, The Baron XI. After competing in the juniors I went on to compete in seniors with the love of my life, Red River V, a 16 h.h bay thoroughbred, pictured right.