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Rider bucked off 10 times in a row uses lockdown lack of saddle to master bareback jumping

A rider who was bucked off 10 times in one ride last autumn turned her lack of a saddle during lockdown into an opportunity to make progress bareback.

Amelia Harvey hit a low point with Dalton’s Jackanapes, the “highly opinionated” eight-year-old gelding she shares with her mother Claire, last October, but the just-15-year-old has rebuilt her confidence in an unusual way.

“She doesn’t let setbacks set her back,” Claire told H&H.

“We went on this ride on my insistence. He’d done Pony Club camp on Salisbury Plain, where it was, so we thought he’d be great — but he bucked her off 10 times. She was covered in burrs, had a grazed chin from his hogged mane and sprained fingers, but she just kept going.

“She did fall out of love with him a bit then, and it took a while to get it back.”

Claire explained that “Jack” hs always had his back, teeth and saddle checked regularly, and that at the end of last year, it was found he needed a new saddle.

The family was told it would take eight weeks to arrive, so family friend and freelance groom Beth Hethershaw showed Amelia how to loose-jump and lunge Jack, which both enjoyed.

Then, of course, lockdown was imposed, and Amelia faced being without a saddle for longer as no one could fit it to the pony.

“She started riding bareback, doing little jumps; I really saw them working together,” Claire said. “He really responded well, he was relaxed and enjoying himself. Amelia got braver and braver, and wanted to push herself more.”

Claire said the past four months have been a “blessing in disguise”.

“We had so much fun during lockdown,” she said. “The pair of them have really bonded, it’s transformed their relationship, and without any pressure, they’ve just been able to have fun.

“Beth, who’s been a godsend, has always said there’s a lovely pony in there, and that’s what’s turned out.

“Amelia’s resilience and determination have been amazing, and I hope they continue to grow together.”

Beth told H&H Amelia had been an inspiration to her.

“I ride for a living but have yet to meet someone who has impressed me as much as she has with her ‘can do’ attitude and work ethic,” she said.

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“It’s been a real journey to get to the point they are at now. There has been a lot of tears and heartache, but it’s been a pleasure to see them both maturing and learning about each other and now having so much fun together.

“After a serious injury I suffered four years ago while attempting to ride bareback, I had made myself a promise to never ride bareback again. But I was so inspired watching them succeed that she managed to convince me to have a go, and after a couple of sessions I even jumped a small spread bareback on her wonder cob!

“This is something I never thought I would do, particularly on this particular horse; he really hasn’t been easy, but I did it with her support and belief that it was possible.

“She is always doubting her ability and I really want her to realise just how good she is.”

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