The next Mikey Pender? Four-year-old boy with an eye for sharp turns hopes to make waves in showjumping

  • A four-year-old rider with an enviable jumping position and a love of going against the clock could be ready to make waves in showjumping – once he’s old enough.

    County Armagh-based Tim Morton, who turns five on 30 May, has one more year to wait until he can affiliate with Showjumping Ireland – which requires juniors to be a minimum of six years old – but in the meantime he is getting ready to step up to 80cm with his 22-year-old pony Biscuit.

    Tim has grown up with ponies and been a regular spectator at his siblings’ competitions where he has been taking it all in. The five Morton children: Abby, 22, Kathryn, 20, Lucy, 17 and Peter, 14, have all enjoyed success on the Irish showjumping circuit including wins at the Dublin Horse Show, and European and Nations Cup team appearances.

    “We didn’t really teach Tim until he was a bit bigger, but to start with he just watched and copied what his sisters and brother were doing. You don’t realise how much a child learns that way,” Joanne, Tim’s mother, told H&H.

    “When it comes to going against the clock, he’s watched speed rounds so he’ll take a half halt and drop in for the turn as opposed to just galloping round. It’s funny because he’s figured this out himself – he’s unbelievable.”

    Tim, who is a member of the Pony Club and also enjoys hunting, is mainly taught by his sisters who are all studying for coaching qualifications.

    “Initially he struggled a bit learning the courses because he didn’t know his colours and numbers, so last year if you shouted ‘The red one’ he would have to think about what red was, but now he knows his colours and numbers so the courses are much easier for him,” said Joanne.

    “He could canter when he was three, and a year ago he started on cross-poles and small fences. He’s jumping 80cm at home and will start doing this at shows soon, we’ll go to some shows and see what the courses are like.”

    Joanne added that Tim needs no encouragement to ride his ponies when he gets home from school – and he is already enjoying his first taste of team appearances, as part of his school team “The Rascals”, which has had wins at 70cm.

    “He wants to win, and he wants to do the turns. He always wants to practise going against the clock. He just gets on and does it, he’s amazing,” she said.

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