Meet Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Emily Parker

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Hello everyone,

I’m currently driving down the A1 on our 6hr journey from the Scottish Borders to what should be a reasonably local event to me — the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

I’ve kindly been given the chance to keep you all updated throughout the week on mine and my steed, Treefers, first ever Burghley… and first ever four star event. So I will begin today by giving you the boring background details before we start getting excited about the actual event!

I’m Emily Parker, 22, and come from Lincolnshire (home of the big B). I’ve been riding since I could hold myself upright and got my first pony aged 7. Coming from a reasonably non-horsey background I went to a riding school, then got into the Burton Hunt pony club, managing to make the ponies well and truly my family’s hobby! My parents, Chris and Sonia, encouraged this ‘hobby’ at the time — my father probably hoping it would keep my away from boys and on the straight and narrow — little did they know it would still be costing them 15years on…

I had a fab time in pony club doing everything from Prince Philip Cup to qualifying for the championships in eventing, showjumping and dressage — it’s what got me hooked on eventing so I’m forever grateful for that.

I progressed to British Eventing, with the help of my event coach and now owner of two horses I ride, Caroline Moore. Caroline’s constant guidance has been paramount in my on-going transformation from pony clubber to ‘professional eventer’.

Her help led to a place on the Midlands and North East JRN team and then my first call up to represent Great Britain at the Young Rider European championships in 2009 with Treefers, where we won team gold.

The following year (2010) was a fairy tale as we won both team and individual gold, giving us the chance to interview for the World Class programme and I’ve now enjoyed two years of amazing support from it.

In 2011 I graduated from Nottingham Trent university with a degree in Real Estate management. Then after a dunking in the water at Boekelo, and a panicked phone call to Sarah Verney (my World Class co-ordinator), I packed my bags, took two horses and trucked up to the Scottish Borders where Ian Stark’s yard was awaiting me.

I had been warned that I probably wouldn’t cope with the hard work and harsh weather (the snow was worse down south — fact) but I had the most amazing time: hunting with the Buccleugh — clinging for dear life on feral ponies; jumping expensive horses over hugely dangerous obstacles on hills; and most importantly learning from one of the best in the world.

Unfortunately for Ian and everyone at Haughead, my new found love of the place and the people has led to me going back for stints with ever-increasing numbers of horses (five this time). So this is where Treefers and I have been preparing for our biggest event to date.

On to Treefers, Trevor, big Trev, Trev the Rev or various other expletives when he is standing waving at us on his back legs. He was bought as a 6yo (now 12) 16hh on his tippy toes, having done a bit of showjumping and one cross-country schooling session, to be my top pony club eventer. Mother was not too keen on buying a horse who I tried with my legs as far away from his sides as I could manage to prevent him exploding across the arena — but she was eventually persuaded.

Trev has done much more than I could have ever comprehended, especially as, being the rather opinionated pony he can be, he likes to show the world his tummy on rather important occasions… including both European dressage tests — naughty boy. However he has won me three gold medals, a place on the World Class programme, the chance to go up and work for Ian Stark, and now a crack at our first four star — I wouldn’t change him for the world.

So now we have nearly arrived — I will have to learn to type quicker and be less easily distracted throughout the week… Hmmm, sounds tricky. I hope I haven’t bored anyone to tears yet, or if so I promise it will be more exciting tomorrow as I will have arrived and the nerves will have started kicking in big time!

Thanks for reading,

Em x

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Make sure you buy H&H next week (6 September) for our 10-page special Burghley report, with full analysis of every phase, comments from dressage expert Sally O’Connor and former winner Ginny Elliot and more.