When she trotted down the centre line at the 2021 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) on Eileen Jenkins’ home-bred riding horse Buriana Larkrise, young show producer Hannah Horton had officially joined the showing elite.
This week, Hannah and Buriana Larkrise (Ralph) feature on this week’s Horse & Hound Showing Special cover (dated 24 March).
Hannah, who is mentored by showing royalty Marjorie and Richard Ramsay, had always known Ralph was capable of great things.
“He came to us as a six-year-old,” says Hannah, of Ralph who she rode to second at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in intermediate ranks in 2019. “We’ve always thought a lot of him, but you can never know how good they’re going to be until you get to the big championships; this is where the north and south meet and all the horses come together.”
Hannah says that ahead of the RIHS final Ralph had been working well at home with aid from Marjorie and Richard.
“We’d worked hard on the run up to Hickstead and he couldn’t have been going any better,” she continues. “On the go round he went beautifully, though I can never watch my horses with the ride judge so I had to rely on my mum to watch his show and she said he gave a fantastic ride.
“It’s so difficult to reign in the adult classes as a younger rider so it was an amazing feeling to win.
“Riding in the main arena at Hickstead never gets old. When Ralph is on his game he rises to the occasion. I got on him before the championship and he said ‘let’s go, this is ours to get’ and he was a complete showman. He’s the ultimate professional at his job.”
Later in the season, Hannah rode Ralph to win the small riding horse of the year final at HOYS. While the gelding was on track for a good result, Hannah’s morning before the class didn’t exactly go to plan.
“My coloured horse pulled a muscle so we didn’t compete her,” she says. “I was a bit down, but my mum gave me a quick pep talk. Marjorie has always said that I’m the sort of rider who is completely focused once I’m in the saddle; when I’m in the zone there’s no talking to me, so I got into the right headspace and we ended up winning our class.
“To be successful in this job and get yourself known at the start you have to have good horses, and Ralph has definitely been one of these.
“I have a few eventers, including a horse who is about to go advanced, set to run in 2022. My eventing is getting exciting and it’s given me a good grounding, which has helped with my showing.
“At home, Ralph is a character. He likes to let everyone know his presence on the yard. He’s always got his head over the door looking for the treat box.”
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