H&H’s 135th birthday: Allister Hood — ‘it was a magical day for the whole family’

Through the highs and lows of equestrian sport, Horse & Hound has been there – documenting the many achievements of Britain’s top riders and sharing their experiences on the world stage. We all have our treasured memories from the last few decades of competition, but what would some of our best-loved celebrities single out as their proudest moments? Next up, as we celebrate H&H’s 135th birthday with a bumper issue (dated 20 June), is showing rider, Allister Hood…

Few top titles have eluded showing supremo Allister Hood. Now in his sixties, the Norfolk-based horseman has spent a lifetime in the saddle — from his early days as a member of the Middleton Hunt branch of the Pony Club Prince Philip Cup team, to numerous supreme and championship wins aboard the likes of large riding horse Diamonds Are Forever and charismatic cob Our Cashel Blue.

“I’ve had so many memorable moments,” admits Allister. “My proudest was most definitely when my son Oliver took the intermediate show hunter at the 2003 Horse of the Year Show with Doctor Doolittle. Oliver had only turned 16 that summer and was not eligible until mid-season to ride him as a small hunter.

“I still remember the day vividly,” Allister continues. “We knew that the horse had gone well — they did a very polished performance. When competitors were pulled out in reverse order, and they weren’t called in third, or second, we were thinking ‘Oh my Lord!’ When they were declared the winners, it was all a bit of a blur.

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“Lots of people would say that Oliver is a clone of me, but I felt that he developed in his own way as a rider. All of my four children rode but he was always mad keen, whether to go out for a hoolie, to go hunting or to play around with a pony in the school. He was happy to take instruction from me, with little bits of help from elsewhere — it was good to get some different views.

“Before the show, Oliver had done a lot of the work with Doctor Doolittle himself. I can honestly say that I was more proud to see my son win than I was to produce a winning horse! It was a magical day for the whole family.”

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