Horse & Hound Awards 2016: Pikeur Amateur Rider of the Year

  • Pikeur Amateur Rider Award
    2016 winner: Claire Abel

    The Pikeur Amateur Rider of the Year Award is to acknowledging the rider who does not make their living from riding, training or competing horses, yet dedicates themselves to their passion as if they did. Watch Claire collect her award below:


    Pikeur Amateur Rider Award nominees

    Sarah McLean, 40

    Sport: dressage

    Job: director of a dog daycare centre.

    2016 highlight? Coming second in a Shearwater six-year-old class on my Friesian Freja. I got her as a three-year-old and backed and produced her myself. I was worried about being able to hold my own so there was a real sense of achievement.

    Top tip for juggling work and competing? Don’t beat yourself up; set realistic goals, training and competing programmes.

    Biggest mistake you have learnt from? Never dwell on a bad test, but learn from it. Just draw a line under it and move on.

    Aim for 2017? Qualifying for the regional championships at elementary, and to do some medium tests.

    Laura Upton, 40

    Sport: showjumping

    Job: running an insurance broker business.

    2016 highlight? Qualifying for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) by coming second on my mare Rockabye Baby in the bronze league semi-final. I’m so proud of her, she’s my horse of a lifetime and it’s been my lifelong ambition to get to HOYS.

    Top tip for juggling work and competing? Be organised and flexible — and don’t give up.

    Biggest mistake you have learnt from? I once got eliminated because I was so worried about certain people who were watching me. Now I don’t worry what anyone thinks.

    Aim for 2017? To start jumping some silver league classes — 1.15m and above.

    Cerys Ford, 38

    Sport: showing

    Job: mother of five-year-old twins. Part-time running a healthcare PR agency.

    2016 highlight? Qualifying for the Royal International Horse Show and HOYS in the middleweight hunter and ladies’ hunter classes, on Master Bandsman, whom I produced.
    It was my first side-saddle season on him but he’s stood amateur champion in every qualifier he’s contested. It feels pretty good that all the hard work has paid off.

    Top tip for juggling work and competing?  Listen, learn and don’t give up.

    Biggest mistake you have learnt from? I got to Suffolk County and found I’d entered the wrong class. Now I check everything.

    Aim for 2017? To carry on, and really get going with the side-saddle.

    Claire Abel, 48

    Sport: dressage

    Job: runs an accountancy practice.

    2016 highlight? Being selected for the CDI in Saumur, France — my first international competition — on Rowan Magic. I was thrilled to be picked to represent Britain as I only took up pure dressage five years ago. He and my other horse also qualified for the national championships in every class they could.

    Top tip for juggling work and competing? Pay real attention to detail, know your horse  and listen to him.

    Biggest mistake you have learnt from? To know when a horse isn’t right for you. I’m 5ft 2in and had an amazing 17.3hh. I thought I could do it but sadly I couldn’t.

    Aim for 2017? I’m doing small tour in Saumur and I’d like to compete at big tour.

    Tamsin Drew, 37

    Sport: eventing

    Job: senior business manager of an investment bank.

    2016 highlight?
    Moving up to novice with my seven-year-old, Gorsehill Ziggy, and realising I’ve got
    an exciting horse for the future.

    Top tip for juggling work and competing? Enjoy it and don’t get too disappointed if it doesn’t work first time. Get a supportive trainer, be organised, and make sure there’s time for yourself.

    Biggest mistake you have learnt from?
    Not to be too down if things go badly. You won’t always win as an amateur, but make sure you do the training.

    AIM FOR 2017? The TopSpec novice restricted championships at the Festival of British Eventing, intermediate and a CCI*.

    About our sponsor

    HH AWARDS PIKEURPikeur is delighted to be sponsoring the Horse & Hound Amateur Rider of the Year Award. Pikeur was founded in 1957 as the first riding clothes company for industrial riding fashion.

    Joined in 1977 by Eskadron as a riding outfitter, today Pikeur are market leaders for high-quality riding clothing worldwide. The love of the sport has inspired us to become involved in this award, whether they are an aspiring dressage enthusiast, a keen jumper or someone who has dedicated their daily lives to horses, we want to hear why they should win the very first Horse & Hound Amateur Rider award.

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