13-year-old rider takes senior Foxhunter ticket hours after all her saddles were stolen

  • A 13-year-old who added her place in the senior Foxhunter final to her ticket to the junior final — as well as six other rides at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) — did so on a borrowed saddle, as all hers had been stolen hours before.

    Tabitha Kyle finished second in the Foxhunter second round on Sunday (27 June) at Hickstead, on Gordon and Sue Hall’s 13-year-old mare Desterly I.

    She had already qualified for the pony Foxhunter final, which she won last year on Teagan Arla Rose, on Dazaro, and has three rides each in the 138cm and the 148cm final at HOYS.

    But her senior Foxhunter place looked doubtful on Sunday morning, when it was found that all four of her Butet saddles, worth about £4,000 each, had been taken from her tack locker.

    “The locker was bolted to the stables, and had a bolt on it, but they cut through and took ours, and five from the people opposite,” said Tabitha’s mother Tanya.

    “They have security patrolling, but these people know what they’re doing and who to target.”

    The saddles were insured, and thanks to Sederholm, which distributes Butet, Tabitha had something to ride in.

    “They were amazing,” Tanya said, adding that if the tack had to be stolen somewhere, it was “fortuitous” it was somewhere with a Butet stand on site. “I rang them at 7am and got them out of bed, and they came out, opened up the stand and lent her some saddles.”

    The borrowed tack did the job, and Tabitha finished second, behind Joss Williams, on Rachel Heald’s Fourfields Dark Maxim, and in front of a host of professional adults.

    “We’re thrilled, because that’s a big deal for a 13-year-old,” Tanya said. “That’s the third Foxhunter second round she’s done, and got to the third round, which is a good 1.45m, so it’s not as if it’s a fluke; she’s been knocking on the door.”

    Tanya said the Halls, who also owned Holly Smith’s championship ride Hearts Destiny, bought the mare last autumn.

    “The Halls have been amazing,” she said.

    “We had to get her Foxhunter double clears; the first show we took her to, she jumped clear but it turned out she wasn’t registered so it didn’t count, and we had to start again after lockdown, but she got them quite quickly.”

    Tabitha and Desterly have since found out they have been selected to represent Britain on the children-on-horses team at the youth European Championships this month (18-25 July).

    “We’re thrilled about that too as it’s her last year in it,” Tanya said. “She was on the team when she was 11, and came fifth, so to be selected again is really exciting.”

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