Find out more about the bond between 23-year-old Isaac Hall and the horse who overcame a life-threatening injury to ‘make him as a rider’, as the pair claim one of their biggest career wins to date...
A horse who suffered a serious injury as a youngster and the rider who produced him from a four-year-old showed the strength of their partnership to triumph in the winter Grades B&C final.
Isaac Hall and Conrad VI were the only combination to jump double clear — although there was a moment it appeared the 23-year-old could have played it too safe as the clock ticked over the time allowed.
Five combinations came forward for the championship on Thursday evening (9 October), held as part of the British Showjumping Indoor Championship Finals at Aintree International Equestrian Centre.
Madison Jamison and At First D’Authuit were the first of the two combinations to go in the jump-off, with the scopey chestnut knocking the back rail of the B element of the double, putting the pressure on Isaac to produce a fault-free round.
Isaac and the big-striding 13-year-old gelding jumped a flowing clear, but a glance at the time showed just how fine he had cut it, with the pair incurring three time penalties.
“I almost played it too safe! It was a lot more nerve wracking for me than a tough, fast jump-off because there was so much pressure to win and to go clear,” said Isaac, adding the small class and “mind games’ of having the win as his to lose created a different kind of pressure.
“I was definitely a lot more nervous than the qualifier [at Southview], which was a very competitive class. Today was different.”
He added he weighed up his options when he saw Madison had a rail, debating whether to go fast to win should he have a pole, or opt for a steadier round with a higher chance of jumping clear.
With tomorrow’s talent seekers final and Sunday’s grand prix still to go, Isaac opted for the latter.
The win was made all the more special for the journey the pair have been on together.
“I’ve had him since he was a four-year-old,” explained the Leicestershire-based rider.
“My uncle, Tim Davies, bought him from Holland. When he was around three, rising four, he had a really bad injury in the field and had to spend a year in the stable recovering.
“We are not sure if he got kicked through the fence or just cut it on something, but it was a massive cut along his back leg, around three/four inches, long right on the joint, so it was very serious.”
The KWPN gelding (Vittorio x Concorde) required daily bandage changes for a long time, which Isaac said is something his “very supportive” parents — both doctors — were hugely helpful with.
“After all that, Tim said I could have him and keep him and I’ve taken him all the way up the levels from British novice,” he said.
“I would say he has made me as a rider. Every time we stepped up, it was a new lesson for both of us and because of that we have developed a lot more trust together than I would have done on a horse that was already made.”
Concord was one of Isaac’s first horses and has been his main ride for around the last nine years. That, combined with caring for him during his recovery, has meant the pair have formed a strong bond.
“He is one horse I can completely trust in the ring. I know if I put him in a bad spot, he will try his best to help me out,” said Isaac.
“If he’s out in the field and I call him, he’ll come running, and he’s quite cheeky at home — he’ll do things like pick up his headcollar from outside his stable and drop it out the window, he’s had a football to play with too.
“I don’t jump him a lot at home, I hack him out and he really enjoys that — we hack round the little village and kids come out to stroke him. He seems to stay quite fit doing that and for a horse his age, he doesn’t have a lot of mileage.”
Isaac added he hopes to give Conrad a bit of a break after this week, with plans to return to jumping some international and ranking classes in the near future.
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