‘I’ll never take anything for granted again’: meet the teenager flying high after her mare’s remarkable recovery

  • Teenage showjumper Tallulah Mackenzie Smith is making waves in the sport and is currently in France representing Great Britain at back-to-back youth Nations Cup competitions.

    But she’s endured a rocky road over the past three years after top mare Nistria VD Winning Z broke a bone in her foot while competing at the Al Shira’aa Jumping Championships at Hickstead.

    Tallulah, 19, had only had the super Non Stop mare for a matter of weeks, having bought her from Carron Nicol in 2021, when the accident happened, and the early prognosis was not bright.

    “Originally we were told she’d never be ridden again and it was game over for her, so to have her back is the best thing ever,” says Tallulah. “She was off for a year and a half in total. She only came back to competition last year, it’s remarkable really.

    “She was pretty good about the whole thing – I think she knew she needed fixing and we were trying to help her. But by the end she was definitely saying ‘Get me out of here!’”

    Tallulah Mackenzie Smith: “It was the best thing ever to be back in the ring with her”

    According to Tallulah, Nistria has returned to the ring “wanting it even more”. They’ve been jumping some great clear rounds at CSI2* and CSI3* shows, stepping up to CSI4* in Spain last month. They had a good run at Pony Of The Year Show before heading to Compiegne this week and she has been picked for the young rider Nations Cup team competing in Czechia next week (Friday 26 April).

    When she returns from her stint abroad, Tallulah is hoping to contest next month’s prestigious Defender under-25 competition at Royal Windsor Horse Show.

    “She’s loving it again now,” says Wiltshire-based Tallulah. “It was the best thing ever to be back in the ring with her – I’ll never take it for granted again.

    “She has such big character – she’s cheeky, too, she goes round the warm-up trying to bite everyone near her!”

    Tallulah Mackenzie Smith is also making great strides with a couple of new rides, the very exciting nine-year-old mare Cubix Van De Berghoeve Z and the talented eight-year-old British-bred stallion Minted. She’s hoping to contest talent seekers with both this summer, while her great partner Karaibes is also core to an exciting string.

    Tallulah finished school last year and has a place to start at university in September, but is considering pursuing her dreams in an already exciting showjumping career.

    “I’ve always loved showjumping, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t imagine not doing it – but it’s also tough making it pay as a business,” she says. “So I will have to decide, but at the moment I’m just taking things step by step. I’d like to become more consistent in the two-star grands prix and do a few more ranking classes.

    “But I don’t think I’ll ever have another horse like Nistria. We’re such a team and she just wants to win. She’s a proper fighter and if I’m ever a bit nervous I can feel her saying, ‘Don’t be silly, we’ve got a job to do, we’ve got this’. She’s so tough, just amazing.”

    You can read about more of this year’s Defender under-25 contenders at this year’s Royal Windsor in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, in the shops Thursday 25 April.

    You may also like to read…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...