‘Don’t rule the oldies out!’ 28-year-old ‘pocket rocket’ mare and 75-year-old rider win national title

  • A rider who took a national TREC title on her 28-year-old New Forest pony urged others “don’t rule the oldies out!”

    Mary Weston was referring to her mare Cape Clear Casey with whom she took the level 2A individual class, one of a number of veterans to be victorious at the 2022 championships, and Mary herself was 75 when she took her victory. There are three phases to a TREC competition: orienteering, control of paces and obstacles. The combination, or pair in a pairs class, with the most points is the winner.

    Mary’s first pony was also a New Forest – “My mother, bless her, bought a four-year-old and taught me to ride and backed the pony at the same time,” – and she has been competing in TREC since 1999. She bought Casey seven years ago, after she lost her Welsh cob Jack.

    “Both my daughters thought I was crazy as she was 21 and 13.2hh; they thought I was on the rebound from Jack, but it turned out to be a wonderful decision,” Mary told H&H. “She’s lovely, and a real pocket rocket. She loves hunting – or did until I decided it was too fast for me and I couldn’t cope any more – and is just a very nice person. She took to TREC like a duck to water.”

    Mary and Casey headed to the TREC GB National Championships at Higher Counthill Farm, Oldham, (13-14 August) after what had not been their most successful season.

    “I did five competitions before it this year and got lost in three of them!” Mary said. “So I’d said the national would be our swansong, and no one was more surprised than me at the end of the orienteering to find I was in the lead by some margin.”

    Picture by Chris Gibson Photography

    The second day involved the control of paces test – a “corridor” 150cm wide and 150m long, along which Mary and Casey had to canter as slowly as possibly and walk as fast as possible – followed by 16 obstacles including bending posts, a bank, a ditch and a maze of poles. Points are lost for touching poles in the maze, for example, and awarded for completing that obstacle at trot rather than walk. And when the two days’ scored were finalised, Mary and Casey came out on top.

    “TREC is about the bond between yourself and your horse; you can’t buy a made TREC horse,” Mary said. “The horse has to trust you and understand what you’re asking, and it’s very much a test of rideablity.

    “That was my individual swansong, although I’ll still do pairs,” said Mary. “She’s earned her stripes.

    “TREC is a lovely sport and you go to some glorious places but I need the safety of someone else with me so I don’t get lost!”

    Casey will now have an easier winter, Mary said, adding that her win, as well as the fact the level four national championship went to 23-year-old Bradley, with Jackie Bennet, and one of the level two pairs winners was Judy Clarke on Rusty, aged 26, shows that veterans still have a huge amount to offer.

    “Don’t rule the oldies out!” she said.

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