Vicky Mitson and the 17-year-old Science Supplements Royal Gent will be lining up for the Cuddy working hunter of the year championship and the British Showjumping (BS) bronze league final at the NEC Birmingham on 2 October.
Vicky told H&H she has competed in showing “pretty much my whole life”, and that she and “Buster” have qualified for the working hunter classes at HOYS and the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) every year since their first season together in 2013, winning at the RIHS in 2014.
“He’s been great,” she said. “We’d done bits of showjumping in preparation for the workers, but never competitively. Then my husband David and [jumping and showing rider] Derek Morton said ‘what about having a go at the bronze league?’ so we did.”
Vicky and Buster notched up enough wins and places during the three-month qualifying period to finish in the top 15 in the East Midlands BS points league, which secured them a ticket to the semi-finals.
In the three-round class at Keysoe in August, they finished seventh to take their HOYS ticket.
“It was all new to me and to be honest, I just wanted to get there and have the experience of the semi-final – and the course got quite beefy in the third round!” she said. “But he’s got plenty of jump, which was another reason to give it a go.
“We had to really commit to showjumping for April, May and June to get enough points and I wasn’t sure how I’d fit that in with the showing, but I’d qualified for RIHS last year and he absolutely loves it – he’d go to a show every day if he could.”
Vicky said Buster enjoyed jumping off against the clock, having always previously “gone round the houses” while aiming for style in workers classes, but the change has not affected his showing, as they qualified for the working hunter championship 10 days after the semi-final.
“Suddenly, we were having to land and turn, and he was a bit ‘what’s going on?’ at first,” she said. “But he really enjoyed it and he’s settled to both jobs well; he seems to know when he’s doing workers and when he’s showjumping and has to get a wriggle on.”
The bronze league final is in the morning of 2 October and the working hunter championship in the afternoon. Vicky hopes that having already been in the arena once may work in their favour for the showing class.
“There are usually only about three or four double clears in the bronze final and to jump three clears across both classes would be fantastic. I think if you’ve got to a HOYS jump-off, you’ve got to go for it and I’ll certainly have a go,” she added.
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“I can’t put it into words what it would mean if it was possible to win both, I’d be delighted.”
Vicky praised Buster, who she said is the “easiest horse”, who can miss a day’s work if she is busy with her job at Science Supplements, but still go to a show the next day.
“He’s part of the family, my best friend; he’s never going anywhere,” she said.
“And I’m absolutely going to continue the showjumping; I’m hooked now and it’s nice to do something different. I think I’ll aim for the silver league next year.”
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