What happens when you team up a petite 11-year-old rider with a 17.2hh-plus ‘beast’ of a horse?

  • It seems the unlikeliest of combinations and the phrase “pea on a drum” immediately springs to mind, but Tabitha Kyle and Grennanstown Sarco Lux Hill are proving the exception to every rule.

    This unusual pairing have quickly proved a force to be reckoned with in the popular children-on-horses classes and produced one of the stand-out performances at the recent CSI2* Chepstow Spring International (3-6 May) — as this jaw-dropping video shows.

    Showing superb horsemanship, Tabitha teamed up with the towering Grennanstown Sarco Lux Hill to produce two winning rounds at the show. Her first success came in the speed class, before she followed up with this victory in the children-on-horses grand prix with the only first-round clear.

    “Tabitha was outstanding,” said youth team manager Clare Whitaker. “She’s well-mounted but she still has to control the horse and it’s a big beast.”

    The rangy Irish-bred nine-year-old gelding, who stands over 17.2hh and is by Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan out of an Olympic Lux mare, is borrowed from Great Britain team rider Holly Smith. He and Tabitha were recent winners in Lier, Belgium, too, on their international debut together.

    “He’s better in a bigger ring — he flies over the fences like a bird, but he’s kind and calm,” said Tabitha, who has already proved to be a real star on the pony circuit in recent years.

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    The 11-year-old’s father, top Irish eventer Mark, who is based close to the Smiths’ yard in Leicestershire, added: “We got him by chance when riding a couple of ponies for Holly and Graham Smith and asked if they had a horse we could take for the children-on-horses tour in Lier.”

    Watch out Scott Brash, there’s an 11-year-old who will be giving you a run for your money very soon!

    Don’t miss the full report from the four-day show at Chepstow in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 16 May.

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