Junior showjumper Tabitha Kyle has been taking Europe by storm the past fortnight – but it was a super save when she nearly fell off after jumping a joker fence that made the crowd’s jaws drop.
The 14-year-old had just cleared the final fence of the junior accumulator with Indiana D’Ayrifagne in Lamprechtshausen, Austria, on 6 May when she became unseated. As the eight-year-old mare galloped down the long side of the arena, Tabitha clung on before managing to re-establish herself in the saddle, much to the crowd’s delight.
“She is not only an amazing showjumper, she is also world-class in vaulting. Congratulations!,” said the commentator.
Tabitha, who went on to win the class of 32 combinations, told H&H 17.2hh “Indy” had taken a big leap over the fence, which caused Tabitha to lose her stirrup.
“The joker is way bigger than everything else and I wasn’t expecting her to take such a big jump over it. She spooked, which made her go higher, I lost my stirrup and when I landed and went to put my foot back in the stirrup I went past it, and I just kept going down – but I wasn’t letting go,” she said.
“I could hear the crowd going ‘oooh’ and all I was thinking was ‘Indy, please slow down!’ It’s quite a long way down from her. But it was funny and the crowd got quite loud once I stayed on.”
The win was Tabitha and Indy’s second of the show. She also scored wins with Desterly and Atomic Du Bary – who are all owned by Sue and Gordon Hall.
Tabitha had been at the event competing as part of the British pony Nations Cup squad alongside Sophie Evans, Izabella Rogers, and Madison Seedhouse. The British squad finished fourth.
The previous week, the pony team made up of Tabitha, Izabella, Sophie, Madison and Poppy Deakin, took silver at the Fontainebleau Nations Cup in France (28 April-1 May), one fence behind Belgium.
“It’s just a lovely thing to go out and do as a team because you’ve got all your friends with you,” said Tabitha, who won six out of six individual classes in France, including the grand prix with Gangnam Style II and a 1.25m class with Atomic Du Bary, in which they finished 11 seconds faster than the second-placed combination.
The young rider now has her eyes set on more Nations Cup appearances and hopes to be selected for the pony squad for the European Championships – but she has her GCSEs to tackle first as she balances studying and riding.
“My first exam is next week, I’ll be relieved to get them out of the way,” said Tabitha.
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