‘Britain is the best place to produce young horses, not Europe’s factory shows’, says Harry Charles

  • Britain’s novice showjumping classes are the best thing for producing young horses, and better than what’s on offer on the Continent, one of the country’s brightest rising stars believes.

    The British Showjumping national classes are the subject of perennial debate, with some riders believing the age competitions held in mainland Europe are superior for youngsters.

    But Harry Charles, cover star of this week’s edition of H&H (pictured), believes otherwise.

    H&H made a recent visit to Heathcroft Farm, the Hampshire base of Harry, father Peter and sisters Scarlett and Sienna, to see and hear how champions are made.

    “I always keep my young horses here,” Harry said. “It’s so boring for them [in Europe] because they just do the same thing, the same courses and the same model. There’s nothing better for young horses than jumping newcomers and Foxhunters.”

    Harry said for example the inclusion of water trays and open water benefits young horses, who “come out as better eight-year-olds than one from Belgium who’s never seen a filler before”.

    “In the Netherlands and Belgium, everything is streamed and everyone’s so scared of their horses having faults,” he added. “But horses need to knock jumps down and make mistakes to learn, like we do. If you’re that scared for a horse to make a mistake, it will come back to bite it in the backside later.

    “Here is the best place to produce horses, not in those factory shows; hundreds of horses jumping the same jumps and the same courses. It doesn’t inspire me and I don’t see how it could inspire my horses.”

    Harry also keeps to relatively plain fences at home, so the jumps at shows have something to inspire the horses.

    “In Tokyo, a lot of the horses jumped better because the fences were like they were,” he said. “They inspired them more.”

    Don’t miss this week’s H&H, out 10 February, for access to all areas of Heathcroft Farm.

    • What do you think about young horse-classes? Send your thoughts to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, and you could win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger

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