After qualifying for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last season for the very first time, side-saddle rider Cheryl Mcvay had her dreams shattered five minutes after she entered the international arena when her stirrup snapped off during her gallop and she was disqualified.
Cheryl and her horse Ballinakill had been contending side-saddle classes for six seasons before they clinched their golden ticket at the Royal Highland Show last term.
“Last season was the first time either of us had qualified,” says Cheryl. “We worked so hard in the lead up to HOYS. Ballinakill went amazingly in the morning during the 5am exercise. I couldn’t believe after trying for so many years the big day was finally here.
“Little did I know just minutes later my dream would be shattered; my stirrup snapped clean off right after our gallop and we were disqualified from the class.
“I was heartbroken as we made the long lonely walk back to the wagon never thinking we would make it again. I felt I had let everyone down.”
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A year later and Cheryl and her gelding were back at the Royal Highland show for another crack at the whip.
“I didn’t even imagine we could do it twice,” she continues. “He went amazingly on the go-round and was pulled fifth. I hoped that I could possibly move up to third after his show.
“During the walk round waiting for the final pull in, I saw the steward pull in the combination behind. However, the rider didn’t go into the line up so I looked and there was the poor steward waving his hat frantically at me! I cried at the fact this super horse had done it again and my team at the side lines could just about be heard in the nearby airport! The judge gave some amazing comments and the rest was a bit of blur.
“With just a few weeks to to go here we are with a new saddle and of course, a brand new stirrup.”