The European Championships in Rotterdam may have only featured dressage, para dressage and showjumping, but Team Hughes found time to squeeze in a side of vaulting.
During their stay in the Netherlands, British dressage team member Gareth, his wife Rebecca and 11-year-old daughter Ruby were invited to visit the nearby stables of Anne van Olst, where Gareth’s teammate Lottie Fry is based.
While they were there, Ruby, a member of the English Vaulting Squad, was lucky enough to get the chance to show off some of her skills on a very special partner — none other than the top breeding stallion Lord Leatherdale.
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The 16-year-old Westfalian, who has competed at international small tour level by Lottie, is one of the most in-demand sires in the world.
His offspring include the 2018 seven-year-old world champion Glamourdale, the grand prix stallion Everdale and the 10-year-old mare River Rise Escarla, a six-time national champion under Sadie Smith and Charlotte Dujardin.
“The van Olsts invited us to their yard, and Lottie said that Lord Leatherdale has the most amazing temperament — she said I could vault on him,” said Ruby, who represented Britain at the European Vaulting Championships earlier this year. “He had the most amazing canter.
“We didn’t have a proper vaulting pad, so we did it bareback with just a saddlepad and roller.”
The Hughes family are currently working with Julie Newell, founder and head coach of the English Vaulting Sqaud, to raise money to buy a new vaulting horse for the team. British Vaulting currently receives no funding from the British Equestrian Federation (BEF).
“To continue our journey we really need to find a new vaulting unicorn for our team to compete on and I’m hoping all our friends and families would be kind enough to help us raise the money we need,” said Ruby.
“I absolutely love vaulting, I have made the best friends and we have the best time training and competing together. But we need help to continue.”
For full reports and analysis from the European dressage, para dressage and showjumping championships, don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale now