I was born and brought up on the Isle of Man, which is a small Island in the middle of the Irish Sea, 13 miles wide and 33 miles long, directly between Cumbria and Northern Ireland.
The Isle of Man doesn't have any affiliated events, so I spent my formative years as a member of the Isle of Man branch of the Pony Club, competing in many different disciplines on the Island, and also competed for a few years in working hunter showing classes, qualifying for the Royal International Horse Show and Horse of the Year Show.
In 2010, I realised that I wanted to get into eventing, which I’m sure is a natural progression from working hunters, and we found a feisty eight-year-old Irish Eventing pony called Craig Mor Tom through my trainer, Mark Smith.
Tom wasn’t easy on the flat or in the showjumping phase, but I knew he was special and, with hard work and determination, would be the pony to take me up through the levels.
I went on the represent the IOM Pony Club at the Pony Club Championships in 2011, finishing second in the Open section and winning the Cross Country Horsemanship Award Bursary, which was a week’s live-in training with Jane Holderness-Roddam. During my stay in the spring of 2012, Jane showed me her scrapbooks of her Olympic achievements, and I finished my week totally inspired and with a dream of competing at the highest level in the sport.
Later that year, I received my first call-up to the British team to compete as an individual in the Pony European Eventing Championships in Fontainebleau in 2012. My debut didn’t quite go to plan – I had a couple of problems on the cross-country – but I completed my first championship with a determination to win a medal the following year.
In 2013, I hit the road running, winning all but one of the spring trials, including the National Pony Championship, and again was selected for the Pony team to compete in the European Championships in Arezzo, Italy. Competing in such high temperatures suited Craig Mor Tom because he was a miniature thoroughbred and we put in our best performances in all three phases, winning both individual and team gold medals. Huge thanks goes to my fantastic team mates, who are without doubt still my closest friends. The team spirit we had in Arezzo was so solid and a memory that will last with me forever.
Back home on the Isle of Man later in the year, I was named Sportswoman of the Year, which topped off an unforgettable year.
After leaving school at 16, I decided that an equestrian career was best suited to me, so I made the big move across the water to the mainland to ride horses for Eddie and Sue Davies and Janette Chinn at the Pewit Stud in Cheshire. Eddie and Sue were island residents and had followed my success in the Pony ranks, so offered me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride for them.
I was asked to take the ride on Fernhill Urco, a five-star horse formerly with Mary King, to compete in Junior ranks, and by the middle of 2014, Imperial Cavalier – who had been stepped down from top level after a glittering career with Mary – was offered to me to compete in his twilight years. I felt extremely honoured to be trusted with these two superstar horses, and they were perfect schoolmasters to take me up through the levels.
In 2015, when Imperial Cavalier and I were both 18 years old, we campaigned the Junior trials, culminating in winning the Junior National title at Brand Hall, and were subsequently named on the Junior European Longlist for the Europeans. Sadly, Archie picked up an injury on the run up to the Europeans, and he wasn’t able to retire with another European medal.
By 2016 I had a couple of young horses to start, and was off the teams radar for a couple of years, but bought my own horse, Night Line, a quirky but talented young horse to produce through the levels.
I also brought several of the Pewit Stud’s young homebred showjumpers up the showjumping ranks from breaking them in to competing at Foxhunter level, and then being sold on. An enjoyable couple of years learning my trade.
In 2018 I had another Youth title on my radar, with the young and very talented Rehy DJ. He was bought by Mr and Mrs Davies and Janette Chinn as a six-year-old from Ireland, and at eight years old was ready to step up to the international stage. He performed foot-perfectly in all three phases in the National Young Rider Championships at Houghton Hall, and deservedly took the title, culminating in selection for the Young Rider Europeans in Fontainebleau.
We finished in fourth place at the Europeans, frustratingly on the same score as the bronze medal, but a showjumping time rule moved us down to fourth place. Nevertheless, it was a very rewarding performance for a young horse at his first championship – and certainly not his last!
2018 also gave me my first top-ten placing in a CCI4*L U25 at Bramham with Night Line, who then went on to complete our first four-star at Pau later in the year, finishing in 16th place and qualifying for Badminton.
Another famous equine arrived at Pewit Stud in 2018, with the purchase of Sandman 7 by Mr and Mrs Davies and Janette Chinn from Pippa Funnell. I felt very honoured to be trusted with such a superstar horse, who was loved as one of the family by Pippa.
After a few runs getting to know each other, we ended the 2018 season with a close second place at Osberton in the CCI3*L.
I was very honoured to be awarded the Godman Cup in 2018 for the most points gained by a British rider in eventing aged 21 and under. Some very famous names appear on the trophy, so it is a very coveted award to win. Rehy DJ also won the Calver Wealth trophy for the highest scoring horse at 3* Level in the UK.
Unfortunately my Badminton dream had to be put on hold for another year after Night Line sustained a kick to his knee in the field, but we will aim for 2020.
My focus for the spring was to aim Sandman and Rehy DJ for the Bramham CCI4*Lu25 class, which is a massive stepping stone, but I had my first tumble ever over a cross-country fence while lying seventh in the Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth, so stepped Rehy DJ down the CCI4*-S class, where he ran very confidently after a personal best dressage score.
Sandman 7 was in the lead going into the showjumping on the final day, after posting one of only two clears inside the time on the cross-country, but tipped a rail to finish in second place and best British rider, which won me my fourth National title, the under-25 British Championship, an achievement of which I am very proud.
|2013||Pony European Championships||Craig Mor Tom||Team and individual gold|