Five-star event rider makes the switch to showjumping: ‘My heart just isn’t in eventing’

  • British rider Hannah Bate has made the decision to give up eventing and concentrate entirely on showjumping.

    Hannah, who has ridden at both British five-stars multiple times, told H&H: “Over the past couple of years a lot of my three- and four-star horses have been sold so I’ve only really done young ones for a couple of years. I don’t think eventing is something you can do with just one advanced horse – I would find it hard – and I’ve started doing less eventing and more showjumping over the past couple of years.

    “I found myself planning this spring around the showjumping shows, not the eventing shows, and that’s when I thought that if I was trying to get the eventing to fit in with showjumping, that’s wrong on owners and horses. My heart just isn’t in it. That’s what I’ve told my owners and they appreciated my honesty. I said ‘I believe your horses are nice enough that they deserve someone with their heart in it’.

    “It’s not a big switch, just that I’ve admitted it to myself and said, ‘That’s me done.’ It has been upsetting, particularly for one of my owners, and a shock for them, but there’s no point doing something your heart is not in.”

    Hannah’s fiancé Paul Sims, her partner of 16 years, has also ridden at five-star in eventing but has been focusing on showjumping for some years. The couple run a 20-horse yard in Nantwich, Cheshire, while Paul also rides some horses from another yard.

    “We’ve both always done a lot of showjumping,” said Hannah Bate, who currently has five showjumpers and had four horses eventing last season. “I’d love to take on more showjumping rides. I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m training hard.

    “I love producing and selling horses. I said to Paul I was going to lose horses and owners and he said as one door closes, another opens and unless you make the decision, you’ll never know. If I’m short of horses, I will have to do more teaching.”

    Hannah says she will still have dressage lessons – “flatwork is very important for jumping” – and will keep an interest in eventing, including producing a young horse she owns to event with another rider. One of the event horses she rode for an owner will be sold outright, another will be produced by her and she and the owner will discuss who will take the ride at competitions and there are discussions around how to break up the syndicate that owns her fourth event horse.

    Hannah Bate and Paul have a son, Billy, who is nearly seven.

    “The switch hasn’t been anything to do with him from a nerve point of view, but I would say that logistically we have a lot of friends that showjump and there are a lot of children Billy’s age, so it’s really easy going to a showjumping show and taking him with us – he goes to the cafe or they play on their bikes together,” said Hannah, adding that the generally longer competition days in eventing can make it hard for her to see Billy as much as she’d like.

    “But that’s not why I’m making the change – I’m switching to showjumping because I love it and my heart is now 100% in wanting to do that full time.”

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