Tales from Hartpury: Husband and wife share ride at Area Festival Championships

  • Hayley Ford and her husband James have each qualified their eight-year-old gelding MGH Airtime, aka Michael, for a class at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships. Hayley will contest the elementary bronze, while James takes the ride in the novice bronze.

    Michael has not had the smoothest of runs after being diagnosed with navicular cysts last year and given just a 30% chance of coming sound, let alone ridden-sound and back to competing.

    “We bought him to event as a four-year-old, but he missed about 18 months of work with intermittent lameness,” explained Hayley. “After finding nothing on x-rays, we sent him for an MRI scan which found navicular cysts and a 30% chance of coming sound, never mind staying sound in ridden work, but with help from our amazing farrier Dan Hawkins, trainer Anna Ross’ help, fab vet Hayden Webb and loads of management, he’s made it to the Winter Dressage Championships!”

    Michael’s kind nature means both James and Hayley can enjoy riding and competing him.

    “He is the kindest horse in the world who always tried his hardest, no matter how he’s feeling.”

    Hayley also has a second ride at the Area Festival Championships, Crimson Gold, a “skinny mini and very sassy ex-race horse”, who was third in Wednesday’s medium bronze.

    “She won the Petplan elementary championships last summer, and we are hoping to train her up to prix st georges,” said Hayley. “She’s a tricky character who was gifted to us by some friends. I spent the first year of owning her dumped on the floor at least once a week. She also doesn’t hack – she long-reins instead – but with help from Anna Ross, she has improved no end.”

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