Tales from Hickstead: ‘sheer determination and hard work’ takes A-level student to dream final

  • An A-level student who jumped only her second 1.40m class in the Royal International Horse Show seven-year-olds’ final had her dream moment — while her proud mother sobbed her heart out in the stands.

    Constance Adams had always hoped she would ride in Hickstead’s international arena, then she did so twice in one show, with Jagger III in the Al Shira’aa seven-year-old championship on Thursday (22 July) and on Imarusa H in the SEIB winter novice final.

    Mum Claire Adams told H&H the pair are “complete amateurs”.

    “We’re from non-horsey backgrounds and just do it all from our little house with our 20x40m arena,” she said. “It’s like a dream come true to go into that main arena, and to do it with people like Pippa Funnell and Trevor Breen; even in the warm-up, we were thinking ‘What are we doing here?’!”

    Connie said she knew before the show that both horses were capable of qualifying for the final, but had hardly dared to hope.

    “As we left, I said to my dad ‘If we qualify for the final, you can come and watch’, as a throwaway comment, so to actually do it was amazing,” she said.

    Connie was selected for the Hartpury College-British Showjumping diploma of sporting excellence, as part of which she has the opportunity to have training and wider education in the sport.

    “At Bicton, I spoke to my showjumping mentor about my aims, and said my ultimate goal was to qualify both of them for their finals,” she said. “It was quite a long shot, especially the seven-year-olds as it’s all the professional riders and the top horses in the country, and Jagger is very enthusiastic; he runs off a bit! So it was a long shot but that was the goal.”

    Connie added that Jagger, whom the family bought as a five-year-old so “we’ve grown together”, was still jumping Foxhunter classes in May but made the step up to 1.30m, and jumped the pair’s first 1.40m at Bicton in preparation for Hickstead.

    “Other than that, neither of us has ever jumped anything like that,” she said. “He’s made for these big rings and this atmosphere; we held each other’s hands going round and it was amazing.

    “We’ve built such a bond. When we trotted in under the arch, it was as if we took a deep breath together and said ‘let’s show everyone what we’ve been working on’.”

    Claire described Jagger as “like a massive Connemara” who hacks out on the buckle but lights up when he goes into the arena.

    And she added that having put in so much work, it was the ultimate reward to watch Connie on the big stage.

    “I was crying my eyes out every five seconds!” she said. “Behind the scenes, I hack out, do some schooling and look after them while Connie’s at school, I’m there all winter. We just adore them so to see her in the international arena, I was beyond proud, it’s corny to say but it really was a dream come true.

    “It also goes to show that with sheer determination, hard work and overcoming setbacks, if you keep going — sometimes it all works out.”

    Jagger II will now be aimed at the Bolesworth young horse championships (18-22 August).

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.

    You may like...