PIVO Amateur Rider of the Year 2022

Welcome to the Horse & Hound Awards 2022, which are back for the seventh year to celebrate the stars of equestrianism, in partnership with NAF.

  • Acknowledging the rider who does not make their living from riding, training or competing horses, yet dedicates themselves to their passion.

    These multitasking amateur riders explain how they juggle their working commitments with their impressive sporting ambitions

    The 2022 winner

    Libby Seed: Libby is an amateur event rider who balances competing at five-star level alongside a full-time career in the medical devices industry, selling equipment for medical advancement and spending three to four days per week supporting operations in NHS operating theatres across the south of England.

    Libby was brought up on a smallholding in Wiltshire, where she is still based, and started eventing aged nine via the Pony Club. She has gone on to represent Britain at two youth European Championships, including winning pony team gold in 2013. Libby has produced two horses to five-star level and has competed at Luhmühlen, Burghley, Pau and Badminton.

    In 2021, Heartbreaker Star Quality, who is co-owned by Libby and her parents Jonathon and Lesley, won the four-star long at Strzegom, and in 2022 they jumped double clear round their first Badminton.

    “I’m very fortunate to keep my horses at home, even though I don’t have an arena and often practise in a field, on the common or at a friend’s yard,” says Libby. “For financial reasons, I don’t have a groom either and rely on a huge amount of help from family to balance competition and work commitments.”

    Also shortlisted were:

    Liz Cheffings: Liz first forayed into showing when she was a child, making her way through the Pony Club and British Show Pony Society (BSPS) ranks and competing at HOYS.

    “My dad was old-fashioned and taught me to plait, clip and ride,” says recently retired bank manager Liz, who has spent a lifetime juggling her full-time job with her horses. Family is key to Liz’s showing journey. She shows alongside her sister, Sally-Anne Cowley, and the pair consistently stand at the top of the line. Sally-Anne is “awesome on the floor and with the turnout”, while Liz mainly rides the horses in the ring.

    Liz has ridden many top show horses over the years, including heavyweight hunter Lord Byron, who won at the RIHS in amateur ranks and finished in the top line at HOYS, and the ultra-consistent small hunter Miracle Mickey. In 2022, Liz won the open lightweight cobs and took the reserve supreme cob title at the RIHS with her friend Nicky McConville’s Randalstown Rolex (pictured).

    “I was pulled second and when he came up to win, I cried,” Liz recalls. “What made it more special was that all the professionals were lovely and congratulatory. It was surreal. It takes a lot of hard work to compete at the top as an amateur. Your horse can have the looks but it has to ride exceptionally well and your turnout must be perfect.”

    Roanna Hamilton: The Kent-based primary school teacher first stepped into the show ring at local level when she was a child. After a break from horses, she recommenced her showing journey with a part-bred Arab whom she showed in-hand, before she purchased her first coloured pony, the native part-bred Nantllesg Elwyn, who won titles at Equifest and Ponies UK and qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) on numerous occasions.

    In 2020, Roanna took the ride on Victoria Ward’s traditional gelding Red Warrior. This season they’ve enjoyed a superb run, lifting the amateur supreme coloured championship at the RIHS, the amateur supreme at Equifest and the amateur championship at the Coloured Horse and Pony Society championships. They also won three RIHS qualifiers and are already booked in to return to next year’s final.

    “Winning the RIHS championship was a bucket-list job,” says Roanna. “I keep my horses in a field with no facilities and do all the schooling in the field or out hacking. Winter is tricky and I’m often lungeing by head torch to prepare for the early shows, though this routine suits the horses well and it fits in with my job.”

    Isla Miller: Based in Thurso in the north of Scotland, Isla grew up on the Pony Club circuit, eventing and showing at local level. While at college she worked for Seaforth Saddlers, attending shows with her employers, and soon caught the showing bug. Isla, who works as a senior project engineer, hasn’t let her location stop her from contending all the major shows and she has been placed at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) multiple times.

    “The life-work balance is a challenge but horses are my passion,” says Isla. “Thankfully, work allows me to be flexible with my hours, so I often work longer days so I can spend the latter half of the week travelling to and competing at shows.”

    Not only has Isla been successful on plaited show horses, but she’s found a niche in the heavy horse world. Her big-winning Clydesdale, Stobilee Zac, attended his fourth HOYS earlier this month and her novice, Ha Durrand Harry, was champion at Royal Cheshire on his county show debut. Isla runs some horses alongside her good friend, Lucy Stewart, and the pair shared a dream moment at the Royal Highland in June, with Lucy and Zac winning the HOYS heavy horse qualifier, and Isla and Harry taking fifth.

    “There’s nothing more rewarding than producing a horse so it can be ridden and successfully shown by another jockey,” says Isla. “It’s a brilliant feeling to know that you’ve started a horse off and that it can make it with another rider.”

    Previous winners of this award include:

    • 2021: accountant and an amateur four-star event rider Lauren Innes
    • 2020: Inspirational para showjumper and disability campaigner Evie Toombes was crowned amateur rider of the decade (2011-2020)
    • 2019: amateur event rider Adam Harvey
    • 2018: amateur event rider Katie Preston
    • 2017: amateur event rider Alice Goring
    • 2016: amateur dressage rider Claire Abel

    About the Horse & Hound Awards 2022

    The Horse & Hound Awards returned for the seventh year in a row, running again in partnership with NAF. Some 300 people, including Olympic and Paralympic superstars, gathered to enjoy a glamorous evening of champagne, winner reveals and dancing at Cheltenham Racecourse. As in previous years, the H&H Award winners were nominated and voted for by you, the readers. We seek to recognise both the big names who have made 2022 special and the unsung heroes who make it possible for all of us to enjoy equestrian sport and our horses, at whatever level.

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