So we got back very late on the Thursday night from the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) after what had been the most magical 24 hours. I did the driving as I thought it was only fair to let my mum enjoy a few glasses of bubbly to celebrate. Luckily Windy had a reprieve and got to stay another night returning home on the Friday with Lynda.

As they always say no rest for the wicked and there I was at 6am the next morning working Flute (Laithehill Flute) before I headed off to work. I don’t know how productive I was on that day as I had been up until around 1am watching videos from the class — it was a funny thing as even though I knew the results, every time I watched them my stomach got all nervous like they were going to change!

On Saturday I was up early again to bath and tidy up Flute before we headed back to HOYS which is at the NEC in Birmingham — boy, I love the M1!

I felt really nervous heading up with Flute as I wasn’t riding him in the class and it is such a different experience. Being only five-years-old and having not done a lot of big shows I wasn’t sure how he would cope. His work-in wasn’t until really late in the evening so after settling him in his stable for a while I took him out for a spin in the outdoor arena. Even though there were a lot of ponies in the arena he coped really well and I was hopeful he was going to take everything in his stride.

Kinvara Garner, who was riding Flute had a couple of other classes to ride in on the Sunday so it was arranged she would meet us down at the arena to have a ride.

Kinvara and Flute

Kinvara and Flute

He warmed up beautifully with her and I could begin to feel my nerves subsiding a bit. They looked beautiful together and I just hoped they would be able to go like that the next day, but warming up can be quite different to the real thing.

Flute wasn’t competing until late on in the afternoon and I didn’t feel he needed to go back into the arena for the early warm-up so mum and I had some time to do a bit of shopping and watch 14-year-old Kinvara in her other classes.

Kinvara was riding in the part-bred class which was just before Flute’s so I got him ready and took him down. We were there in plenty of time so he could get used to it all but to be honest he felt really calm — unlike me. I am never good standing on the sidelines watching!

Kinvara had only ridden Flute three times so I knew it might be a bit of a big ask for them in the arena but I don’t know why I was worrying so much — they were foot perfect.

Kinvara rode a beautiful show and Flute and her looked wonderful — obviously I am bias, but I was so thrilled with them. The relief I felt after he finished his show was huge. I honestly felt I was riding every stride and I must have been annoying as even my mum left me alone! He did a lovely in-hand as well standing well for the judges and then it was back in for the results.

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Flute is part-owned by the Moelview Stud who had originally bought him as a stud stallion but after one of his testicles didn’t drop he was cut and ended up with me to do some ridden classes.

So as they were adding up the marks I had Jane on Facebook messaging me about the results. They started calling forward the numbers of the top 11 and they missed out Flute. I was a bit gutted as he had gone so well so to not make the top 11 was a shame. I messaged Jane and then just as they were about to walk out they announced some more numbers and Flute’s was in it! So within one moment of disappointment we were back to delight again.

The numbers were counted down and again we go to the top two and Flute was still on the backline. They called out second place — a lovely Dartmoor and then it was just Flute and two Dartmoors left. Then they announced it: “This young girl has only ridden the pony three times…” I thought, I can’t believe it, it must be Flute — and it was! My little Barbie pony had only gone and won HOYS!

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Thankfully Kinvara looked far more together then me as they came forward as the winners. He stood like a rock and did a beautiful lap of honour. As if that wasn’t enough, we found out they needed to do the supreme pony class too.

If anyone had told me I would ever have a pony in the supreme I would have laughed at them, but here we were doing a sudden quick panic of deciding on a show for Kinvara and Flute to do against all the other amazing champions.

Well, Flute being Flute and Kinvara being Kinvara they didn’t let me down. I couldn’t have been more proud of them in the arena, even when the pony next to Flute kept moving about, his manners didn’t falter.

So our early night turned into another late one as we waited to go in the main international arena for the HOYS supreme. Yes, it really wasn’t a dream.

Again, I was bursting with pride as they went around the ring with all the top ponies in the country. This was a moment I would never forget even if my heart was continually in my mouth. What a moment.

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I am so proud of how Flute has come on over the two years I’ve had him and for him to achieve all this was beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you so much to Kinvara who rode him beautifully. She was calm and kind and looked after him the whole way round and to me they looked the perfect picture.

Kinvara Garner riding Laithehill Flute

So that was it, HOYS was over. 2016, the year when all my dreams came true not once but twice! It took 20 odd years. Blood? Yes, definitely. Sweat? A lot. And tears? A fair few along the way but we got there. What has been even better is along the way we have picked up some amazing friends, had the best of moments with our ponies (at home and in the ring) and cheered along with everyone’s success. Our journey there over the years is what has made those days the best and although I said I would retire if I ever won HOYS, I hope there are a few more days to come! Now its time to prep for Olympia.

Chloe