‘We’ve had to learn on the job’: RIHS glory for 11-year-old in her first season of showing

  • An 11-year-old rider in her first season of showing at affiliated level came to the fore in the BSPS RIHS mini M&M supreme championship at the 2023 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

    Harlow White and her mother Chelsea White’s Coppinshill Commemoration (Rolo), a nine-year-old Dartmoor by Springwater Happy Day out of Shilstone Rocks Another Beach, led a 29-strong first ridden field before they pipped winning lead rein combination, Finlay Clay and Heather Clay’s Dartmoor Springwater Tactician led by Craig Elenor, to the overall championship sash.

    The result was understandably a shock for Harlow and her connections standing at the ringside, including Rolo’s producer Bea Shepherd, as Harlow had never stepped foot into a show ring prior to April of this year.

    “We bought Rolo in November after going to Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last October to spectate,” said Chelsea. “We thought the showing looked so fun. Harlow loves dressage and flatwork as well as grooming and making the ponies look all glam, and she decided she’d like to give it a go. And so began our hunt for a perfect little Dartmoor to take her into the ring.”

    Rolo was purchased six weeks later. Chelsea spotted him on a social media advert, as she explains: “We went to see him a couple of days later, and brought him straight home. He’s been an unbelievable pony ever since he arrived with us.”

    Chelsea and Rolo appeared in the UKPH young riders final earlier in the morning. On the day they qualified for both the young riders and first ridden finals, they stood champions of both sections.

    “Rolo did one season of showing when he was five, qualifying for HOYS, but he hadn’t been into the ring for about three years,” Chelsea added. “We’ve had to learn on the job. Rolo had been out of the game for a while, and Harlow had only done local stuff, low level show jumping and a little bit of dressage.”

    Harlow added: “ I will never forget this moment. Rolo is such a chilled out dude and he’s very calm, though he does have his spicy moments. At home I do a bit of everything with him. As it’s my first time riding at the RI, I just wanted to get round the ring and do my best. I didn’t even mind if I didn’t get a rosette!”

    Finlay Clay rides Springwater Tactician to the reserve championship spot, handled by Craig Elenor.

    Finlay and his ultra-consistent Dartmoor Springwater Tactician, who is by Hisley Diplomat, were securing reserve in the RIHS mini M&M supreme championship for the second year on the bounce.

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