‘Just keep going’ — double Olympia winner shares her top tips for home-produced success

  • What does it take to win the Mountain and Moorland (M&M) supreme title at the Olympia International Horse Show, not once, but twice? Lancashire-based Connemara specialist Sandra Burton and her family show team scored their second Olympia victory last December with Joe Burke’s stallion Banks Timber, a title she also won in 2013 on her own gelding Fly The Last Flute.

    We caught up with this talented amateur who shared her tips for home-producing to the very top:

    Read the full interview with Sandra in H&H magazine (7 March issue) — out now!

    1. Juggling duties

    Six days a week, Sandra runs a milk round with her sister Janet while her daughter, Emily, works full time as a veterinary nurse.

    “We get up early to do the milk and then once that’s done, we’ll do the book work,” said Sandra. “Even though the job has it’s drawbacks, it does mean I have the rest of the day to do the horses, which is especially helpful during winter.”

    2. Making it work

    Sandra rides Banks Timber to land the M&M ridden championship at the RIHS in 2017.

    When attending the Royal International (RIHS) in 2017, where Tim and Sandra won the M&M championship, the team had to put in some extra work to ensure they could be back on the showground for the supreme on the final day:  “We doubled up the milk before we went, drove down, did the showing and as we won we had to arrange going back for the supreme,” said Sandra. “So we left mum with the wagon, borrowed someone’s car to drive home and deliver the milk, before driving back down to do the supreme — It’s safe to say I was absolutely knackered.”

    3. Find your passion

    Even though she began with Fell ponies, Sandra’s real love and majority of success has come from her involvement with Connemaras. “I didn’t get my first Connemara until 1998. He was a gelding I’d seen in H&H called Lintavon Ciro I went to see him in Scotland and just feel in love with the breed. He wasn’t the easiest and could be full of himself in the ring. He qualified for HOYS several times and eventually won in 2004.”

    Her love and knowledge of the breed has seen her compete on a string of successful ponies at top level for over 15 years.

    4. Put in the time

    Despite being an amateur show team, the Burton’s always ensure that once they are in the ring, they provide a performance good enough to compete against the pros.

    “You have to put the time in at home,” urged Sandra. “We do our homework so that when we go in the ring, we do our best and on the right day, we can get the results.

    “If you want to do well, you have to be dedicated, especially as the standard in showing classes is so high these days.”

    5. Enjoy the job

    “I think a lot of people can lose track of enjoying the job,” said Sandra. “When we go to shows we make sure we go to the ones we enjoy, and these might not necessarily be qualifiers. You can get caught up in the chase to qualify and lose the fun side of showing. We put so much money into it that you need to go out and enjoy your animals, or what’s the point?”

    Sandra rides Coillte Cashel and Emily rides Aniar Cashel. Both will be making their debuts under saddle during 2019

    6. Keep going

    “Try not to get discouraged if you don’t get what you want straight away; I have been disappointed many times. You’re always going to be beaten somewhere along the line; you have to come away from each show and think about how you can improve. If you have this attitude, you won’t give up.”

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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