Horses may not be their full-time job, but these highly dedicated riders push their passion for riding to the utmost

Jane Buchan, 55

Sport: eventing

Job: marketing manager for Baileys Horse Feeds

2018 highlight: “My first advanced event [on Carleton]. Part of it felt surreal; I’m at an age where I’d accepted I probably wouldn’t do anything amazing, but completing at the highest national level of the sport is pretty amazing. But I trusted my horse, had put the work in, it felt like a very normal next step and I knew my horse was more than capable. I’m very proud of him.”

Top tip for juggling work and competing: “Very careful planning. Luckily I can ride before work, then the horse gets the best of me.”

Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “I had sports psychology for some showjumping issues this year, and learnt not to be afraid to trust your instincts. People were saying ‘you don’t need that’ but it was really helpful. Sometimes taking yourself away from people close to you and talking to someone else is invaluable.”

Aim for 2019: “I’d really like to do a CCI3*. I eyed up Blenheim this year, which I’d never thought would be possible before.”

Emily Cooper, 37

Sport: showjumping, running the UK Armed Forces Equestrian Association team

Job: reservist army captain, general service corps, and works for a property tech company

2018 highlight: “I love seeing how far the team has come. When we started last year, the riders weren’t experienced and were nervous riding in uniform, but they’ve grown so much.”

Top tip for juggling work and competing: “Lots of juggling, a huge amount of planning, and a very understanding boss! I try to plan what the team are doing up to a year ahead.”

Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “The first year we didn’t plan enough, but now we really communicate, plan as best we can and try to be flexible. The biggest learning curve is finding out what’s realistically possible, and the biggest lesson is when things don’t go right, put them behind you and move on.”

Aim for 2019: “To take riders to Fontainebleau for the CSI; they’d be the first riders officially to represent the armed forces abroad. I’d love to be one of them but I’ll have to fight for my spot.”

Katie Preston, 31

Sport: eventing

Job: vet

2018 highlight: “Completing Luhmühlen on ‘TJ’ [Templar Justice] was pretty special as it was my first CCI4*, but the highlight has to be Burghley, which was amazing. I was excited to be there and just trusted him to fly round, which he did [they finished 24th].”

Top tip for juggling work and competing: “I’m lucky in that I keep mine at a private yard so there’s no time constraints and they live out all year round. That means I don’t have to worry about them standing in or mucking out; I just go there and ride whenever I finish work. And the motivation comes from having good horses whom I just love riding.”

Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “I tried to change how TJ jumped at Luhmühlen; to have him quiet and not rushing, but it took away his scope and he struggled at that height. So I’ve really worked on his technique, to let him be himself and work with him.”

Aim for 2019: “It’s got to be Badminton with him. That’s on the bucket list.”

Avril Bartolomy, 71

Sport: showing

Job: retired, formerly worked in banking

2018 highlight: “Qualifying for Olympia [with maxi cob Clantara Shadow Play, in the Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd series for home-produced horses over 15]. He’s just turned 15 so it’s my first year doing it, and I’m so excited. It’s a mixed class so there will probably be a three-year-old on a lead rein at one end, and me at the other!”

Top tip for succeeding as an amateur: “Watch the pros and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. I had my first riding lesson aged 50 and I’ve learned so much since from watching.”

Biggest mistake I’ve learnt from: “Be patient, trust your horses and give them time; it
takes a lot of time and work. I drive the HGV to all the county shows, and my husband and I don’t have staff; we do all the horses ourselves.”

Aim for 2019: “I do enjoy the amateur classes so will keep doing those, and I’d love to qualify for Olympia again.”

Voting is now closed

The Award winners will be revealed at the H&H Awards dinner on 8 November at Cheltenham Racecourse, to which all those shortlisted will be invited with a guest.