A once “unrideable” rescue horse and his proud owner are set to make their dressage championship debut at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury (3 — 7 April).
Siân Lovatt and her eight-year-old grey gelding Barrontop Ziggy (Ziggy) have qualified for the Petplan Prelim Silver finals set to take place on Saturday.
Ziggy was bought by Siân — who works as a marketing manager — for the sum of £200 from a dealer and she says it took her a long time to build his trust:
“At first, I couldn’t even get near him,” says Siân. “I started doing bits with him and when I first tried to get on him he would just bolt and rear. After the help of some specialists, we realised that he had a fear of people being high up on him. But I was willing to try anything to help him so I persevered.
“Some people told me I was bonkers for riding such a spooky horse, and others told me that the tricky ones are the most talented.
“He has come so far. I used to be scared of jumping myself after an accident when I was 14 but Ziggy has now safely taken me from being scared to jump, to our first ever BE, and now qualifying for this.
“He has been tough as can still be spooky, but he is the most loving horse you could ever meet.”
In January last year, the pair had another blow, when Ziggy was hospitalised due to a serious infection: “After that, getting to Hartpury has been even more special to me,” continues Siân.
“My grandad was always my biggest influence in dressage and despite passing away 15 years ago, he was the reason I rescued Ziggy. Before he died he told me his favourite colour horse was a dapple grey and it was his dream to have one. So I made that dream come true for us both.
“On the day of the finals, I rode with a photo of my grandad in my glove and will be doing the same at Hartpury, so that he’s there and our dreams are coming true together.
“I truly believe Ziggy and I were sent to find one another in life, to help us both overcome fears.”
Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk