Pint-sized mare with the ‘biggest heart ever’ zips to silver league glory *H&H Plus*

  • Find out more about the whizzy little mare, who defied her size to speed to victory over a ‘gallopy’ course, and her special bond with rider Gemma Hallett, which has resulted in 22 wins in just over a year

    The five-hour trip from Somerset was worth the drive for Gemma Hallett and the pint-sized Billy Jive, who took the NAF Five Star summer silver league championship with a masterclass in jump-off style.

    This was the 22nd win for the combination since Gemma took on the ride in July 2019 and the fifth consecutive title of the British Showjumping Indoor Championship Finals at Aintree International Equestrian Centre to be won by a mare.

    “We weren’t going to come originally, then she won the qualifier at Chard and so Sue Jarman [her owner] said ‘well if it were HOYS, we would definitely be going’ so we made the decision to come up and it was worth it!” said Gemma, adding while the mare may be “a little bit short in the leg” she has the “biggest heart ever”.

    The zippy 15.2hh chestnut mare’s speed through the air and agility in her turns gave her the edge over Mark McGowan’s jump-off course.

    “I don’t tend to watch anyone before I go in as it makes me more nervous,” said Gemma.

    “I make a plan and stick to it, otherwise I end up over-riding and we have a pole.”

    So what was the plan?

    “Go as quick as I could,” she laughed. “It was to keep it as neat as I could, because she’s little, I wanted to keep those turns neat and tight as that’s where she’s so quick.

    “The course was good — I thought the girls who were second and third would have been quicker [than me] because it was so gallopy and she’s so small, so I thought they would be faster across the ground.

    “She’s just so quick in the air and quick on her turns. You don’t have to take a check anywhere, you can just keep her going and trust her.”

    Taunton-based Gemma only rides the 11-year-old daughter of Billy Mexico at shows as the horse is kept with her owner, Sue.

    “I meet her at a show and hop on,” she explained. “She is the most genuine horse. The more you push, the harder she tries. She’s so lovely, bless her.

    “I love a mare. Maybe that’s the key — I let her go in her funny little way and be herself, she quite likes that.

    “She’s a real trier and the more you ask of her, the more she gives. She thrives on being asked questions.”

    Just 0.35 seconds separated the top four combinations, with Gemma and Billy Jive stopping the clock in a time of 34.12.

    Millicent Cornock continued her successful day, adding second place in the silver league final aboard Boavista Delsendam (34.22) to her two top-five placings in this morning’s discovery championship. Third place went to Lucinda Stewart and Cancun II (34.26).

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