Young rider heads to Hickstead on 25-year-old son of mare her mother rode there 27 years ago

  • A 12-year-old rider is heading for Hickstead on the 25-year-old son of the mare her mother rode there nearly three decades ago.

    Sarah Olifent bred Frankium, or Frankie, from her adored New Forest mare Nightwood Salina, with whom she jumped in Hickstead’s international arena as part of a team that finished runners-up in the schools championship 27 years ago.

    She told H&H Frankie was born in what is now her kitchen.

    “My cottage used to be a little thatched stable so he was born exactly where my Aga is now,” she said.

    “His dam was a cracking little mare, who was my hunting pony but we did eventing and showjumping too, and we kept her for ever.

    “She was such a good mare, we wanted to breed a foal so she went to a New Forest stallion, and we got Frankie.”

    The 14.1hh gelding was intended for Sarah’s younger sister Jade so after Sarah herself had ridden him for a while, and a couple of years on loan to friends, he came home and “did all the Pony Club things”. After Jade outgrew him, he was loaned out again, then returned for Sarah’s daughter Amelia, now 12, to ride. In those years, he has earned an enviable reputation.

    “He’s hunted with the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale pretty much every season since he was five,” Sarah said. “I should think there isn’t a hedge in the vale he hasn’t jumped.

    “He’s really quite special. People would always tuck in behind him because they knew there was nothing he wouldn’t jump.

    “He’s an absolute star. He’s won county-level working hunter pony classes, evented to pre-novice and I should think done more Pony Club camps than anyone in the country. He’s taken tinies to mini camp, done polocrosse; he does it all and anyone can ride him.”

    Amelia has now qualified for the National Schools Equestrian Association arena eventing championships at Hickstead on 29 May.

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    “It will be really special,” Sarah said. “My mum’s really excited. She’s got motor neurone disease so won’t be able to go but we’ll Facetime her as they go in the ring.

    “She’s hugely fond of Frankie and has seen him all the way through so I think it will be quite emotional for all of us.

    “It will be special for all of us just because of the pony he is but to know how long he’s been doing it, and that I did it before on his mum; that probably doesn’t happen very often.

    “We keep thinking ‘this might be his last year’ but he carries on, and he’s with us for ever.”

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