Pikeur Amateur of the Year award 2017

  • The Pikeur Amateur of the Year award acknowledges the riders who do not make their living from riding, training or competing horses, yet dedicate themselves entirely to their passion. The award winner was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.

    *WINNER* Alice Goring, 25

    Sport: eventing

    Job: osteoporosis research as part of a PhD

    2017 highlight: “Making my first trip to compete abroad, in the Tattersalls CCI*, where my 15hh gelding The Little Frenchman and I finished on our dressage score.”

    Top tip for juggling work and competing: “Organise your week well, with a back-up plan in case you have to work late. Floodlights are definitely my best friend during the week.”

    Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “I spent years persevering with my first horse who just wasn’t right for me. Selling him was the best decision I could have made. It led me to The Little Frenchman and I have never looked back. Life’s too short to ride a horse who doesn’t make you smile, especially as an amateur with limited time.”

    Aim for 2018: “I would love to step up to advanced with The Little Frenchman; we’ll be working like crazy on changes over the winter. I also have a three-year-old, who I will be aiming at the young event horse classes.”

    Also shortlisted were:

    Debbie Poynter, 54

    Sport: dressage

    Job: canine hydrotherapist and massage therapist

    2017 highlight: “Winning the Area Festival inter I final at the winter championships on Keystone For Real. I had only competed in a handful of inter I tests beforehand and he is the first horse I have trained by myself to that level.”

    Top tip for juggling work and competing: “You have to be dedicated and the diary has to be well organised, with precise times for riding.”

    Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “Years ago, I worked as a marketing director and it was difficult being governed by office hours. I could only ride at weekends as I was leaving for work at 7am every day. Once I became self-employed, I could set my own hours, so now I work evenings and ride in the daylight.”

    Aim for 2018: “We’re working towards inter II and will be aiming for Area Festivals at the level. I might also aim to compete him in the new British Dressage FEI silver championship.”

    Becci Harrold, 26

    Sport: eventing

    Job: the family locksmith business, as well as running her own equestrian clothing company, Super X Country
    2017 highlight: “Scoring 25 in the dressage at Bold Heath BE100 in August with Shannondale Annie, whom I’ve had since she was a three-year-old. It’s our weakest phase and we’ve worked hard on it. We’ve had two thirds and a second at BE100 this year.”

    Top tip for juggling work and competing: “It helps to have a good family support network. My mum is my rock, helping me to stay super-organised and putting in the hours when I’m not around.”

    Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. With a full-time job, I just can’t spend as many hours in the saddle as a professional rider. I ride as much as I can and try my hardest — and I’m enjoying it a lot more.”

    Aim for 2018: “To get to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton, if we qualify. We also might aim for Chatsworth in May — it’s my local event and I love it.”

    Nadine Willis, 34

    Sport: showing

    Job: animal health inspector for Durham County Council

    2017 highlight: “Coming eighth at the Royal International Horse Show with my lightweight hunter Just Jacques. I never, in a million years, thought I’d get placed. I’ve also just found out I’m seventh with my home-bred boy in the Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] La Liga Awards.”

    Top tip for juggling work and competing: “My horse is my life and I drop everything for him — I don’t have time for much of a social life. It takes sheer determination and dedication, but showing becomes an addiction — the results drive me.”

    Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “I used to feel intimidated by the professionals, but I learnt to get past that and my confidence has grown. I also try to give Jacques lots of variety, with plenty of hacking and fitness work, rather than just schooling.”

    Aim for 2018: “I missed qualification for HOYS by just one place three times this year, so that will be my ultimate goal for 2018.”

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