Tales from Hickstead: 15-year-old Exmoor to make Royal International debut

  • Jessica Rayner’s Exmoor pony Earl Harold has qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS)for first time aged 15. He will contest the Exmoor/Dartmoor/Shetland ridden class.

    Jessica first met Harold 10 years ago when he arrived at the riding school she was at. He had spent the first four years of his life on Exmoor where he was born.

    “Juliet Rogers owned him and said I could ride him to get him ready for the riding school, but he was far too good for that so I started schooling him and in time we tried showing him,” explained Jessica. “We competed in M&M WH classes for years, winning the Picton final at the NPS Championships.”

    Unfortunately, just as the pair were about to start their qualifiers in 2015, Harold fractured his pelvis.

    “We took him to a jumping clinic and he must have jumped a fence awkwardly,” said Jessica. “He wasn’t lame, but when he stopped jumping, we knew something wasn’t right and had him looked at.”

    It was decided that the best thing for him was to be turned away, so he spent two years turned out on conservation grazing.

    “Then in 2017, we brought him back in, and although he was weak, he was much better and so I cracked on again,” added Jessica. “I then fell pregnant in the April, so I turned him back out again.”

    During this time, Juliet gave Jessica ownership of him.

    “He had another few years turned away and then we finally brought him back in this year,” said Jessica. “He qualified for the RIHS on our first time out since he came back into work, so at the grand age of 15, he will be making his Hickstead debut.

    “After all this time, it was like it was meant to be. I am extremely proud of him – he is my best friend and I can’t wait to ride him at the final.”

    You might also be interested in…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...