While most riders would be content with just one ride at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), one eight-year-old jockey has managed to secure more than half her ages worth of tickets to the prestigious final.
Maisie Chester, who is based in Crawley, has picked up five qualifications this season, on her ponies that the family show team — headed up by her mum Stacey — produce from home.
Julie Farrell, who teaches Maisie, says the super-keen show rider is only in her first season competing off the lead rein: “Three of the classes she’s qualified for are all off the lead-rein — these are show pony and Mountain and Moorland (M&M) Pretty Polly first ridden and open 122cm show hunter pony, and the latter will require her to give a gallop,” says Julie.
“The other finals she will be contending are the Pretty Polly M&M lead-rein and lead-rein of show hunter type classes. The three ponies she has qualified are Coppinshill Chaos (M&M), Friarly Gamepoint (show hunter pony) and Brookwater Toyboy (show pony).
“Chaos is Maisie’s Dartmoor pony who started her on the lead-rein when she was four and has been to the RIHS every year since. Gamepoint came last season and Maisie qualified him for the RIHS within a few weeks of him arriving. Over the winter she found out that he not only loved going off the lead-rein but enjoyed his jumping, too. Toyboy has joined as a new ride for Maisie this year and is proving to be a very exciting prospect,” Julie explains.
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The ponies — who Maisie and Stacey manage around work and school commitments — will be suitably prepared for the Hickstead atmosphere as they are all stabled under the flight path at Gatwick Airport.
“Fitting it all in around work is a team effort and Maisie rides most evenings after school and competes at weekends,” continued Julie. “The ponies enjoy lots of variety in between competitions with beach rides, hacking, clinics and visits to the nearby cross-country course or jumping shows. Maisie helps muck out and assists with all the general care of the ponies. She is very excited at riding for the first time off lead at the RIHS.”
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