‘100% natural’ boy jumps his dad’s 22-year-old former top showjumper

  • Horsemanship flows through the showjumping Charles family’s genes and 11-year-old Harvey Charles is no exception. The eldest son of British showjumpers Nick and Nicky (nee Boulter), has enjoyed jumping his ponies from the family home in the Dordogne, France, but recently stepped up to jump one of his father’s former top showjumpers Falco Del Tirso in impressive style.

    The 22-year-old gelding was retired from competition four years ago and has had a “few easy years” but the keen and confident Harvey had been “itching to get on” his dad’s horse.

    “The boys [Harvey and his seven-year-old brother Frankie] have often sat on Falco and we’ve led them about on him, but that’s it,” says Nicky. “He’s quite a powerful horse and still full of beans – he’s 22, but he’s not a dobbin rocking horse, he’s an eager beaver and says ‘Let me at the jumps’. So you have to be a bit gamey to ride him.

    “But Harvey’s not afraid, he’s got 100% natural talent there. So recently Harvey had a few rides on Falco inside and then we went outside and we asked if he wanted to try jumping him and he just nailed it! It was as if he’d been doing it all his life.

    “My reaction was just ‘Oh my God’. I was so proud, it was like a dream come true for Harvey to be jumping Nick’s horse,” says Nicky, who was on-hand to video their first round of fences while husband Nick was assisting from the sidelines with a few instructions.

    “It was really wet – we’d just had a massive downpour – so it wasn’t the best video, but I couldn’t not share it,” she says.

    ‘He had the biggest smile’

    The big pats Falco receives from young Harvey are an indication of just how much both horse and jockey seemed to enjoy the experience.

    “If you could have seen his face – he just had the biggest smile, he was almost chuckling to himself as he rode round,” says Nicky. “He rode him so well. The ultimate goal would be to get the two of them out to a few small shows in the summer, perhaps jump a few 1m classes and see how it goes.

    “It’s nice for Falco too, he’s loving it. It’s also great for Harvey to have that kind of horse to learn on because he’ll teach him well. If Harvey makes a mistake, Falco will help him out, but also he’ll teach Harvey to ride properly because he won’t let him get away with anything.

    “Harvey is very tall for an 11-year-old, he’s very sporty, always outside and doesn’t want to be in the house, which is a good thing,” says Nicky, who moved from the UK to south-west France seven years ago.

    11-year-old Harvey Charles riding his 13.2hh pony Dough Lad

    She and her husband both compete regularly at their local venues and Nicky Charles still produces youngsters for Old Lodge, for whom she has ridden many top horses including Super Trooper De Ness.

    “Harvey’s had a couple of cracking little ponies, including Ben, who Frankie is on now and jumping 50cm and 60cm classes [pictured below]. Harvey loves it. He doesn’t like the mucking out or the brushing, but he adores the riding and he loves the ponies and horses,” says Nicky. “He’s got such confidence and he just gets on and does it. I said to Nick ‘I couldn’t have done that at 11, could you?’ and he said ‘No!’

    Frankie Charles riding his pony Ben

    “We all do it together and watch and support each other, which we really encourage – on the good days and the bad days!

    “Harvey keeps telling me he wants to be a showjumper so watch this space!”

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