‘I bought him as a hunt horse’: Home-produced show rider on how she found her 2021 Search For A Star champion

  • When she was called forward as the winner of the most recent SEIB Search For A Star (SFAS) championship at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), home-producer Lucy Hopkins achieved the centre line dream that so many riders aspire to during their careers in the show ring.

    Wheatland Hunt stud groom Lucy was on board her seven-year-old lightweight hunter Chilly Breeze — who is known as Matty at home — and the pair had clinched the SFAS show hunter class just a couple of hours before their foray into the International Arena championship.

    “I’ve always loved the hunter side of showing and I always dreamed that I’d have a horse that I could one day show at a nice level,” said Lucy, when she chatted to H&H’s showing editor Alex Robinson on episode 73 of the Horse & Hound podcast. “Though I didn’t expect that Matty would be the one to take me there; we bought him as a hunt horse and had no idea that he would turn out like he has.”

    Lucy became acquainted with Matty though some family friends, who had brought him over from Ireland.

    “He was a four-year-old at the time and they bought him to sell on,” said Lucy. “They’d had him for about six months and a few friends had seen him and told me to go and have a look, though I didn’t want something so young. I gave into the peer pressure and went for a look and I loved the ride he gave me. At the time, he wasn’t too grey either, so he didn’t look like he’d be too tricky to keep clean.

    “We hunted him lightly and then gave him a break. Through lockdown we completely roughed him off and he just didn’t stop growing; he was about 16hh when we bought him and he’s now just a shade under 17hh. He had time to mature and a few people said we should try some showing with him.”

    Lucy and Matty qualified for the HOYS SEIB SFAS finals at Onley Equestrian Centre and picked up their ticket in second place. Throughout the season, they developed as a partnership and put in the work to ensure they were HOYS ready.

    “I’ve learned to take on every bit of advice that you can,” added Lucy. “Watch, listen and learn, especially from the professionals. Go to clinics and workshops with trainers and riders; you really never stop learning. You’ve got to take it all on board and keep trying. Don’t give up; one day you’ll have a bad show and the next you’ll have a good one. Don’t ever get disheartened, you’ll get there.”

    Listen to more from Lucy on episode 73 of the Horse & Hound podcast.

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