Burghley first-timers: Richard Skelt — ‘he was very naughty and I bought him incredibly cheaply’

Richard Skelt is preparing for his first crack at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (5-8 September), an event that he has lived virtually down the road from for a number of years.

“I’m quite nervous as it’s on home turf — I did think, shall I not just go to Pau for our first five-star instead where no one knows us?” laughs Richard, who rides full-time, caring for his five horses on his own.

Thirty-seven-year-old Richard, who is originally from Dover, didn’t grow up as part of a horsey family.

“I started off riding one of my mother’s friends daughter’s ponies and then went to Hadlow College in Kent to study for various equine diplomas and worked for William Fox-Pitt’s mother, looking after her horses while I was studying.”

Richard then went on to further learn his trade in other yards, including that of the late Henry Hill in Cambridgeshire. And it was from Henry that Richard bought the horse that will take him to his first Burghley next week. Credo III (or Pedro, as he is known at home) is a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Tenerife VDL.

“I bought Pedro four years ago from Henry very, very cheaply,” explains Richard. “He had been produced by Angus Smales originally but he was incredibly naughty. My time with Pedro has been a massive rollercoaster ride as he is so spooky — I can only get him down one end of the arena at home — he’s very sharp.”

But Richard has persisted with Pedro and they cemented their Burghley qualification with clear cross-country rounds in the CCI4*-L at both Bramham and Camphire this summer.

“I’ve been having dressage lessons with Matt Cox, who has really helped us and I jump train with Emilie Chandler,” says Richard. “But I still have no idea how Pedro will react when we get into the arena at Burghley!”

Richard has also taken Pedro hunting with both the Cottesmore and Fitzwilliam to give him more confidence.

“The more confident he has become the better he has performed,” says Richard.

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Una Roe, who has been a long-term supporter, and Richard’s partner Neil Todd own Pedro.

“I just want to go to Burghley and give the horse a nice experience — he’s only 12 and he has a lot more left in him,” explains Richard. “The cross-country obviously looks massive and little Pedro has never jumped so big in his life, but I enjoy riding bigger tracks — there’s something to ride forward to. Pedro has a massive stride and so we’ll crack on, but all the while I will be riding what I have underneath me and go and enjoy it.”

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