Grandmother ‘punched the air’ on completing first affiliated event aged 71

A 71-year-old was “punching the air” as she completed her first ever affiliated event while raising money for charity.

Lyn Gower from Kilmarnock completed the British Eventing BE80(T) class at Forgandenny Horse Trials on Sunday (14 July) with her Irish 16.2hh rescue mare Erin.

Lyn, who learnt to ride in the 1950s on a Suffolk horse at a farm, told H&H she had only evented once previously – the unaffiliated Drumclog Horse Trials, Strathaven, on 1 June .

“I didn’t think I’d have the strength to event but I’ve been gearing myself up for it. My daughter Louise encouraged me and said ‘you don’t want to be on your deathbed wishing you’d gone eventing’,” said Lyn.

“After I did the unaffiliated event I said ‘if I can raise £500 for World Horse Welfare before Forgandenny I’ll do it’ and within two weeks I’d reached the target – I thought ‘Damn, I’ll have to do it now’!”

Lyn, who spent seven years living in Chile where she rode rodeo horses before returning to the UK six years ago and taking up jumping, said a fall during cross-country schooling? two weeks before Forgandenny knocked her confidence.

“I took a flyer after Erin put in a nasty stop and I went over her head taking the bridle with me. She doesn’t usually stop or she backs off early and gives you loads of warning – thank goodness for body protectors,“ said Lyn.

“I trained hard for the event, at my age you have to think about how strong you are. Louise has helped with everything – she’s been groom, trainer and fundraiser. Louise events at BE90, my son Paul used to event and my grandchildren, Thomas and Ben also event.”

Lyn had a dressage score of 35 and eight faults in the showjumping but jumped clear across country, picking up six time penalties.

“Completing the event was indescribable. I punched the air coming through the cross-country finish line. I had the biggest grin and Erin was still full of running. I wasn’t placed but the organisers were so kind and gave me a rosette and a bottle of champagne,” said Lyn.

“It was so lovely competing at a BE event – everything was done beautifully. The commentator mentioned over the loudspeaker after my showjumping round that my fundraising total had topped £1,000 and after the cross-country the organisers donated £100. Other officials and people kept giving us money so we finished the day on £1,300.

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Lyn said she enjoys competing because it gives her a “focus” and has qualified for the British Riding Clubs national championships (31 August to 1 September) in style jumping.

“It’s a big question, whether I will event again, but if we go to the championships there’s an unaffiliated event on in Cumbria which we might do on the way back,” she said.

“I never thought I’d have the stamina to get round a cross-country. Six months ago I couldn’t breathe going round a working hunter course. I’m on such a high – it’s been incredible. People have still been contacting me about donating and we’ve set up a Just Giving page for anyone who wants to donate.”

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