Jodie Hall-McAteer: ‘Jumping abroad means you’re running at a loss, even if you win’


  • Having moved back home to the UK last year, young British international showjumper Jodie Hall McAteer weighs up the pros and cons of jumping abroad

    I was competing at Sentower Park in Belgium last week with seven horses, but they had the World Cup Final live stream playing in the restaurant bar so between classes, people were catching up with the action. What an amazing result for Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward, they are an unbelievable partnership.

    My top horse Salt’N Peppa has been off since the middle of last year and Sentower was his first show back. He’s just getting fit again and we’re building him up for the summer. It’s so exciting to have him back, as he’s a special one. To have that partnership again and to gel so quickly is the best feeling.

    I moved back home last year, having been based in the Netherlands with my trainer Ben Schröder at BWG Stables. It’s great being back at home although I don’t know if it’s any easier – there’s more travelling and it’s a lot more expensive. It is nice having some cooking and cleaning done and a bit more help though! I enjoy having everyone around when I’ve been on my own a lot over the past two years.

    Logistically getting to the bigger shows is more difficult and I don’t have the daily training, which I miss. Ben is still supporting me and helping manage my show schedule, though.

    This week I had my sister Eleanor with me at Sentower. It makes it more fun getting to go together – when we’re getting along anyway! It’s very civilised there, with good courses. The parking is all on concrete and they provide excellent footing, where they harrow after every 25 riders.

    That isn’t to say British shows aren’t comparable – I’d probably have been at Chard and Chepstow if I hadn’t been going to the Global Champions Tour in Shanghai, China, next week as the horses I’m taking are being quarantined in Valkenswaard.

    It’s not ideal to have to go abroad to compete – jumping in a two-star, you’re at a loss even if you win. Instead, you have to look at it as an opportunity for the horses to gain experience.

    The amount of paperwork also makes being based in England a challenge. I hadn’t made the trip from home to mainland Europe for a long time and heading back from Sentower we were held in Calais for two hours. Luckily we had an experienced driver, who told us to check that there was a stamp in the carnet, which they had forgotten.

    The system is neither practical nor organised. Our vets have to fill in pages of paperwork, which takes up to 45 minutes just for one horse – it’s not what they spent years studying to become a vet for. It also means you can’t substitute a horse at the last minute.

    Supporting shows at home

    When organisers make an effort to put on shows in England, we should definitely make sure we support them. I jumped in the grand prix at the Blue Chip Winter Championships and it was a brilliant show.

    The bonus they offered for any rider placed in the top three in Thursday night’s class, who also went on to win the grand prix, was a great incentive. I had a nine-year-old I thought it would suit and if you’re not in it, you’re not going to win it.

    I was asked why I was there but why wouldn’t I be? It was an hour down the road, good money and ground, well organised and with a nice atmosphere – and I wasn’t doing anything else on a Friday night! I hope more British shows become like that.

    ● What incentives do you think would encourage British showjumpers to compete more on home soil? Let us know by emailing hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for the chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 25 April

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