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Side-saddle 6’8” high jump world record finally gets official recognition

The side-saddle high jump world record has been officially recognised, seven years after Ireland’s Susan Oakes achieved the phenomenal feat.

Susan cleared a 6’8” (2.03m) puissance wall on her stallion SIEC Atlas at the Equestrian Sports Training Facility in Blanchardstown, near Dublin, on 24 October 2013.

She had contacted Guinness World Records in 2012 to tell them of her plans for the world record attempt, but had been told it only recognises the greatest height cleared by a horse, not whether they were ridden astride or sideways.

“I had a phone call about seven weeks ago out of the blue from the Guinness World Records to say they’ve been following me for the last seven years,” Susan told H&H today (2 November).

“I had no idea! They’d seen the support that the record had received and over the last year they’ve come up with a category, which is a lengthy process and involves bringing a team on board to create it. It’s unbelievable recognition for the equestrian world as a whole, aside from just side-saddle.”

They asked Susan to send letters, photographs, videos and witness statements to verify her record.

“I had to go back seven years and find everything, to relive and revisit all those memories,” she said.

She sent everything off and a week later received the official letter to say it had been recognised.

“Normally you would be able to go to London and be presented with it, but because of Covid it arrived in the post,” she added.

Susan said she remembers the “tunnel vision” she had at the time when the record was a dream and all she could think about achieving.

“On that day in 2013, I knew I had everything set up perfectly and I knew that if I did it that day, I did it and if I didn’t, I would walk away,” she said.

Susan, who hails from a hunting and point-to-pointing background, not only cleared the 6’8” puissance wall, but then swapped horses to clear a 6’5” triple bar aboard SIEC Oberon.

“They were two wonderful horses who really jumped their hearts out for me,” she added.

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In a statement on her Facebook page Susan added the record to her is “the equivalent of Olympic gold”.

“I want to own it, cherish it and celebrate it,” she said. “None of this would have been possible without the grass roots of hunting and point-to-pointing, which kept me brave and fit. All the amazing horses that have carried me over many obstacles and terrain. Finally to the support I have received from far and wide, thank you.

“I am extremely grateful & humbled for all the support I receive no matter what equestrian endeavour I take on.”

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