Tales from Hickstead: from beginner to Royal International rider in just two years

  • AFTER learning to ride just two years ago, 15-year-old Chloe Chapman is heading to her first Royal International Horse Show with schoolmaster Wycroft Da Vinci. Chloe bought the 11-year-old part-bred show pony a year ago with help from her aunt Suzanne Hibbard.

    “We have show horses ourselves and keep them with Jordan Cook,” said Suzanne. “Chloe had been riding her lovely all-rounder Black Jack, a cob who she did a bit of everything with. She than started coming to shows with us and decided she wanted a show pony of her own, so we helped her find one.”

    Suzanne found Da Vinci, a 14.2hh part bred show pony, last May and the pair spent much of lockdown getting to know one another.

    “Her parents are non-horsey so they asked us to get Chloe something that had been there and done it, and Da Vinci is the perfect schoolmaster,” said Suzanne. “They had a bit of time to get to know each other before the shows started up and then did a few local shows where she really got going with him.”

    Da Vinci then had the winter off and came back in at Christmas after which the pair hit the ground running.

    “They did a few normal BSPS shows to give them confidence, and then decided to have a go at qualifying for the Pretty Polly classes,” added Suzanne. “We did two qualifiers where she was third and fourth, then she qualified at Area 3b in May. She couldn’t believe it when she realised she had qualified. This will be her first time at the Royal International and she is buzzing.”

    Chloe is very dedicated, mucking out and riding before and after school.

    “She absolutely loves him and he’s a diamond of a pony and has given her some much confidence,” Suzanne said. “She has been riding no more than two years and to have come this far in such a short space of time is testament to her hard work and dedication. She’s not mardy at all – she knows it’s not all about the winning, and as long as the pony goes well, she is happy.”

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