Superstitions, a scary goose and milking cows — 18 intriguing facts you probably don’t know about this top rider

  • She’s seriously superstitious, a gifted ballerina and loves surfing — here are 18 things you probably don’t know about producer Jo Bates, a familiar face in the show ring.

    1. Jo is very superstitious. She likes numbers with three in it and always rides with the same cane and in the same socks.

    2. She bought new riding boots last year and worried about wearing them, but 2016 was the “luckiest year I’ve had” — culminating in Suzanna Welby’s Elusive standing hack champion at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) — so now Jo has to wear the boots at every show.

    3. She still competes in the same jacket she had when she was 15.

    4. Jo has one daughter, Holly, who competes in dressage up to prix st georges level and works part-time in human sports massage.

    5. Jo’s mother, Elizabeth Morgan, used to breed Italian greyhounds and was one of the first to breed a coloured one.

    6. Jo’s father bred boxer dogs.

    7. Elizabeth ran Greenacres Stud and produced show ponies, which Jo and her two older brothers campaigned in the ring. Jo accrued multiple titles and county wins as a child.

    8. She can remember riding at HOYS alongside her siblings — all three of them on 12.2hh ponies. Tim, the eldest, has a PHD in maths and physics and isn’t horsey anymore, but Nick still judges show ponies, including at HOYS.

    9. While working at Catherston Stud, Jo campaigned the prolific sire Fleetwater Opposition as a four- and five-year-old before he embarked on stud duties. She enjoyed showjumping him so much that Jo went to train with Iris Kellett in Ireland for six months.

    10. Jo has also dabbled in eventing, competing Mockbeggar Zorba at intermediate level until 1985 and later producing Roan Prince, a thoroughbred bought from Newmarket for £500, to novice level and selling him to Holland for £15,000.

    11. After leaving school, Jo spent six months in Austria working as au pair for Ernst Bachinger’s two children. Ernst is now director of riders at the Spanish Riding School.

    12. Jo was a gifted ballet dancer when she was young and in training for the Royal Ballet School. However, she quit dancing following an operation to realign both knees.

    13. She is a keen surfer and Jo’s favourite annual holiday is visiting Polzeath in Cornwall.

    14. Jo learned to ride side-saddle when she was 10 on a course taught by Jennie Loriston-Clarke. Jo went on to be crowned side-saddle rider of the year in 1976 and 1977, aged 14 and 15.

    15. Jo worked for Jennie during her twenties, doing everything from secretarial work to mucking out, cooking and ironing — she even milked the cow!

    16. Jo watched a dressage performance by Domini Laurence riding San Fernando at HOYS when she was 13, and was so impressed she started competing in the discipline herself. She won the national junior title in 1978 on Scotch Royale.

    Continued below…

    17. Jo temporarily gave up horses and went to live and work in London as a temp for a secretarial agency, where jobs included overseeing press for a film launch.

    18. When Jo originally set up her own production yard she was based with four-star eventer Beanie Sturgis in Oxfordshire. The pair kept free-range chickens, ducks and a goose called Christmas, who pecked cars and chased people — including the vet.

    Don’t miss the full interview with Jo in the current issue of Horse&Hound (22 June), on sale now.

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