The horse who took a rising British star from Pony Club to Badminton: ‘He was so honest with a kid bobbling around on him’

  • It sounds like the dream of every Pony Club rider – to ride at your first Badminton Horse Trials on your very first horse. But occasionally, that dream does come true: it did for Tom Jackson and Waltham Fiddlers Find.

    “Wes or Wesley, as we call him at home, was my first horse coming off ponies,” explains Tom in an interview on episode 78 of The Horse & Hound Podcast.

    “We actually were a bit cheeky as a family – we went just to the local dealers down the road from us, just almost because my parents wanted to see how I would get on with riding a few horses.

    “We turned up and he was there, a big gangly four-year-old that was probably completely unsuitable for a 15- or 16-year-old lad, but we ended up getting him.”

    Tom had done one season of pre-novices – now BE100s – with his pony Landis State Blue Secret and started off competing Wesley at Pony Club level.

    Tom remembers: “Every time we stepped up, we stepped up together and it was a really amazing journey to go through the junior and then young rider programmes with him and him really teach me – I was very lucky in that he was very talented and obviously a very honest horse. With a young kid bobbling around on top of him, he was still performing.”

    Tom and Waltham Fiddlers Find won junior team gold and young rider team silver and bronze together, won the under-25 championship at Bramham and went to their first five-star at Badminton in 2017.

    “It is always amazing going to Badminton – I’ve been lucky enough to have been a few times now,” says Tom. “When you turn up on Tuesday, it’s always amazing walking through the arch into the stables. It just has such a different feel to any other event you’ve ever done.

    “Wes had just come back from an injury as well, so for us to get him there and do that was a real big achievement in itself. And then we were just really hopeful and looking forward to the week.

    “In the end, I made a huge mistake on the cross-country after getting three-quarters of the way around the course and him feeling amazing. I messed up a little bit, but we still managed to complete and tick that box.”

    Tom and Wes went on to achieve a cross-country clear at Badminton the following year and also completed the five-star at Pau Horse Trials twice with cross-country clears.

    “We went through the highs and lows of eventing together and it was amazing that we got all the way to five -star. I’m really glad that we got him to be able to do that and he’s now happily retired here,” says Tom.

    Hear from Tom about his recent top-10 finish at Pau Horse Trials with Billy Cuckoo by tuning in to episode 78 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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