Meet Badminton first-timer Georgia Bartlett: ‘He is my first horse and we’ve worked our way up from BE100’

  • At just 22 years old, Georgia Bartlett will be one of the youngest competitors at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian (4–8 May). It will also be her first five-star.

    But eventing is in Georgia’s blood and she has been visiting Badminton for many years as a spectator.

    “My mum and dad, Katie and Jeremy, evented when they were younger and actually met while competing at junior level,” explains Georgia, who is based at home near Thatcham in Berkshire, from where she events full-time. “I think I’ve always wanted to be an event rider, to be honest, as it has been there from the start for me. I had a lovely 12hh pony, and it was thanks to him that I got hooked on eventing.”

    Georgia’s grandmother Wendy Wybrew was a former district commissioner of the Chiddingfold Farmers branch of the Pony Club and pony team selector, later becoming a leading figure in private driving. Georgia’s mother was national junior eventing champion in 1987 and her aunt, Charlotte Wybrew, was twice a member of the British pony team, winning team silver and team bronze, then junior team gold at Rotherfield Park in 1991 and also competed at Burghley Horse Trials.

    Georgia will be riding Spano De Nazca (Nono), a 17-year-old French-bred Anglo-Arab gelding at Badminton. Georgia bought Nono almost seven years ago and he was her first horse.

    “I was in my last year of ponies when I got Nono and we’ve worked our way up from BE100 level,” says Georgia, who describes the chestnut gelding as being his own person and sometimes a little grumpy in the stable, but very professional and trainable as soon as his tack goes on.

    In 2019 Georgia won the national junior title with Nono, taking home the trophy her mother won 30 years previously. This victory came on top of representing Great Britain at junior level at the 2018 and 2019 European championships, winning team silver on both occasions. They also won the CCI3*-L at Millstreet in 2019.

    “We then pressed on to four-star level and found out what he was capable of, finishing 11th with a double clear at Blenheim in 2021,” says Georgia. They followed this up with a clear jumping round inside the time in the under-25 CCI4*-L at Bramham and third place in the CCI4*-L at Millstreet, both in 2022. “So after those events, we thought why not take the next step? It seems like natural progression to now give five-star a go.”

    Of going to Badminton to compete for the first time, Georgia say it will be “very special”.

    “It’s the pinnacle of our sport so it’s very special to have a horse who is ready to compete there. Having watched the event for years as a child, and dreaming of riding on that cross-country course, to actually be in a position where we’re hopefully going to be doing that, it’s very exciting. I’m really looking forward to going out of the start box.”

    Georgia admits that she didn’t think she would be going to her first five-star with Nono in the early days of their partnership.

    “To start with, I was just a teenager and we’ve both had to learn a lot,” she says. “His showjumping record wasn’t very good to start with – I don’t think we managed a clear showjumping round at BE100. He’s such a scopey horse with a rangy stride, it was a case of teaching him to wait and having a lot of patience. I had a lot to learn and he’s taught me so much — we’ve both really come together as a partnership.”

    Georgia, who trains with Adam Kemp, Caroline Moore and Laura Collett, says that now Nono doesn’t really have a weak phase.

    “I’d say he’s strong across the board. On the flat, he’s never going to be a big-moving warmblood, but he’s pretty accurate now and he does all the movements correctly, so he can’t be marked down too much. He’s got a fair bit of experience now at four-star level and so he is pretty strong in the jumping phases.”

    In terms of expectations at Badminton, Georgia says that she “doesn’t have great ones”, but that she wants to go and enjoy the experience.

    “We’re looking forward to going and having a good time. A good run there would be amazing, but we’ll wait to see what happens and enjoy every moment.”

    How to watch Badminton Horse Trials

    If you are interested in watching Badminton Horse Trials live from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, then you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later.

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