‘I owed it to him’: PE teacher and 21-year-old horse take HOYS title

  • A PE teacher took the NAF Five Star Bronze League championship at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), on a 21-year-old horse she took on to look after for his owner.

    Nicola Foad and Potsdam Junior were victorious in one of the event’s first classes, for which they had only qualified “by a whisker”.

    The combination were fifth of seven in the jump-off, and all those before had jumped clear, including a scorching round by Holly Gair and LGS Survivor,

    “I’d seen them all go and they were pretty quick so I thought I had to give it everything — and it worked,” she said. “He’s not a fast horse but he’s so easy to ride and he turns so tight, he’s efficient, and faster then he looks.

    “I was in two minds whether to take a pull to the last or not, and I can’t remember what I did, but it must have worked!”

    Nicola was asked to look after the Potsdam gelding by his owner, who had moved into Nicola’s village in Somerset.

    “After about six months, she said I could ride him, and we’ve formed a partnership over the last five years,” she said. “Within a few months, I knew he was something special, and he’s been amazing for me.

    “I thought I’d give him one last shot at this because he’s been so brilliant and consistent, he deserved it, and I owed it to him.”

    It was a first HOYS appearance for Nicola, who had been “trying since I was a child”, and she and Potsdam Junior only just qualified.

    “He jumped clear in the first two rounds of the qualifier, then rolled the last pole,” she said. “So we came eighth, and it was the top seven who qualified, but one lady had two horses in it, and you’re only allowed to have one, so I’m here by a whisker.”

    Nicola teaches PE at an independent school, where many of her pupils ride, so they will understand her delight at taking the HOYS Bronze League title.

    “To say I’ve even jumped here is unbelievable; I can’t believe I’ve won,” she said.

    Rachel Proudley and Cartino III took the NAF Five Star Silver League final

    “I had a plan in my head of what I had to do, and thankfully it worked,” Rachel said. “I watched a couple go in the jump-off, and it was fast.

    “But I knew what I had to do, and he is an experienced horse. He has been around for a while, and he is very careful and brave.”

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