Stoneleigh stories: pony who herds sheep at home wins national jumping title

  • A pony who is used to herd livestock and carry sheep on the farm at home displayed her multiple talents when she won the British novice final at the British Showjumping National Championships at Stoneleigh (3-10 August).

    Nine-year-old Irish sports pony Caramel III and her 14-year-old rider Holly Cole only started jumping at affiliated shows in September having mainly competed at Pony Club level.

    The chestnut mare was bought unseen two years ago after Holly’s dad decided to take a chance on her.

    “We didn’t know what she’d done or anything about her,” Holly said. “She was a bit of a handful when we first got her, she could be a bit nappy and needed a confident rider to ride her on.

    “We knew she definitely had a jump in her, but she needed someone to help find it.”

    Holly, who is based in Devon between Tavistock and Okehampton, didn’t start jumping the mare at all until last year but in recent months showjumping has become their focus.

    “We do use her at home on farm though,” she said. “My nan takes her to do the sheep and she’s had sheep carried across her. She also gets used to bring the ponies in from the moor.”

    There were almost 90 entries in this highly competitive final, where 38 produced first-round clears and a further 13 kept a clean sheet in the jump-off.

    Holly delivered the fastest round by 0.75sec to take the win over runners-up Tom Bucknall and Fanta C.

    The competition is likely to be the partnership’s swansong as Caramel is only 142cm and Holly has outgrown her.

    “She is only small but she covers the ground quite well, so I wasn’t too sure about doing all the turns and thought I’d go more for speed,” Holly said.

    “Because I am getting too big for her, I knew it was probably my last show on her and I wanted to go out with a bang. I was definitely going for it as there weren’t too many clears and I thought even if I end up having a pole, I might as well give it a try — I didn’t really expect to win though.”

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