Britain’s Kirsty Chabert clinched the biggest result of her career to finish runner-up at the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials with the quirky British-bred mare Classic VI.
The pair delivered one of only three fault-free showjumping rounds in the German five-star to climb the leaderboard and finish on their dressage score of 31.1 – 2.1 penalties behind Swiss winners Felix Vogg and Colero.
Ice-cream hacks through the New Forest have been key to getting the best out of this opinionated and athletic mare.
“This week has been a whirlwind,” said Kirsty, 33. “She has been fantastic throughout all three phases. “I had a phenomenal ride on her across country. I was actually quite down on my minute markers. I came out of the last water and looked at the clock – I’m not very good at timekeeping – and saw I was a fair way down. I put a bit of leg on and off she went. She finished quite comfortably inside the time in the end.”
Kirsty felt the nerves before her showjumping round, opting not to watch those jumping ahead of her, instead choosing to stay away from the arena until her time.
“She is a very good jumper, so if she has a fence, I have to put my hands up and accept full responsibility for it,” she said.
“I tried to just stick to my plan with her, which is to ride her like a go-kart, like a pony. That’s how she likes to be ridden and she answered everything.”
The talented partnership walked home from fence 20, the Nyetimber Corners, at Badminton in May, and decided to re-route to Luhmühlen. They came to Germany on the back of a CCI4*-S win at Millstreet, with Kirsty musing that running more frequently and a consistent competition schedule, not interrupted by Covid as in previous years, could be the key to their successes this spring.
“This is more than I’ve ever achieved. For me, my dad [John Johnston] and Carole Somers, who are the part owners, it is just incredible,” said Kirsty, whose groom Sarah-Jane Tetlow, also took the grooms’ prize.
“She has all the beauty, charisma and ability, it was just a case of harnessing everything. You always dream of a great result and for me this is my biggest achievement yet. To do it on her has been a big team effort from everybody at home. She spends most of her time hacking around the New Forest getting ice-creams and enjoying life. It’s not just me, it’s a massive team effort to get her in a happy place.”
The Calvaro F.C. mare was bred by Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper, Peter Charles, and has been with Kirsty since she was five years old.
“She’s always been a beautiful mare, and she is extremely quirky,” said Kirsty. “She’s not a fan of multiple things – farriers, vets, men – she’s very comfortable in her own team, but for her to accept somebody and to trust them is the hardest thing. She’s a mare, so it all comes on her terms.”
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