Over the Christmas period, H&H is meeting fresh talent across the equestrian disciplines. These are our pick of riders you really need to watch out for during the 2021 season…
Next up is showing producer and native specialist Jess Talbot. Twenty-five-year-old Jess runs a yard of 14 alongside her mum, Helen, in Somerset. Jess had four finalists at the 2019 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and has won a host of titles with her ponies, which range from Shetlands to Welsh section Ds. Jess has worked with horses since she left school.
“My mum has always owned horses so as soon as I was old enough I was riding,” says Jess, who’s first pony was a Shetland named Socks. “Growing up, I did a bit of showing and hunting. After primary school I was home schooled and then I completed my Pony Club exams up until B level and then BHS stages one and two as well as the care section of stage three.”
Jess’ first taste of the top-level championships was with the Welsh section B Brianne Hapni who gave her a first ride at HOYS in 2007 in the 133cm working hunter pony of the year final:
“He was a brilliant pony and did everything,” says Jess. “Since I outgrew him he’s been on loan to lots of different families in our local village.”
One of Jess’ long standing clients is Caroline Sutton of the Peasedown stud. Some Peasedown prefixed ponies Jess has produced and ridden include HOYS finalists Luigi and Maddison as well as dressage star Bombay Sapphire.
Also on Jess’ current string are two Shetland stallions owned by breeders Julian Walters and David Hodge. The multi-garlanded Sharptor Armani has been a big winner for Jess under saddle, and she’s got the fresh face Sharptor Tricolore — already championed as a novice — waiting in the wings.
“It’s funny as before Armani I’d never actually ridden a Shetland since Socks,” says Jess, who was recently rode Armani to stand reserve best of breeds champion at the BSPS Heritage championships.
“Ever since I remember it’s been my dream to produce. Of course you have bad days but I never go out with the intention of winning but focus on the other achievements which come with producing young ponies.”
Alongside her her show ring successes, Jess has also achieved victories in driving competitions; in 2013 she scooped the intermediate final at the British Indoor Carriage Driving UK championships.
“My dad has always been into driving through admittedly I didn’t really enjoy it when I was younger,” she explains. “A few years ago I had a Welsh section C pony who I didn’t want to sell so I tried him in harness and he took to it really well. He was sharp but it meant he was really suited to the indoor driving job. I’ve also done a bit of side-saddle in my time, too.”
Over the festive period, team Talbot will be taking it easy and enjoying some new year hunting if lockdown permits:
“We’ll still be busy with the ponies over Christmas,” says Jess. “We like to dress up the yard with lights to make it a little more exciting”
Jess had four finalists at the NEC last year. After a successful first day in the open M&M classes riding Helen’s Dales gelding Southerton Jasper, Jess jumped round the exceeding 143cm mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter of the year and was placed riding Connemara Aaron’s Echo before disaster struck:
“On the lap of honour the pony in front kicked out with both barrels and caught me on the leg,” explains Jess. “It hit the bone under my knee and pushed it out of joint. I was in the very next class on Welsh section C Peasedown Maddison but couldn’t ride so fellow producer Vikki Smith kindly stepped in and rode him for me. I was due to compete on the flat with Armani later in the afternoon and after dosing up on painkillers I was able to ride him. I was gutted as I’d worked so hard to get there and then this happened!
“When I got home and went to hospital I found out I’d snapped the ligament in my knee. It was a difficult time as I was in a limb brace for 14 weeks and we had to run the breakers in a different way.”
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Looking to the future, Jess hopes she will ride that HOYS centre line one day.
“I hope I can continue as I am and keep going on to win bigger things,” she confirms. “It’s been amazing to qualify for HOYS but to win is the dream. I think if you believe in yourself you can do it. I put the effort into a job I want to get up and do everyday. If I could go showing every single day I would.”
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