Nicky McConville: I cannot explain the feeling *H&H Plus*


  • H&H’s guest showing columnist on why team work really does make her dreams work.

    Nicky is an amateur show horse rider and owner who juggles her showing around full-time work. She is best known for her partnership with the cob Randalstown Rolex, who she rode to stand amateur supreme cob at the RIHS in 2019.

    I get asked how I achieve results in the show ring as an amateur, and I have to say that it all boils down to one big team effort.

    Our little squad consists of myself, my friend Sally-Anne Cowley and her sister Liz Cheffings. We work hard behind the scenes but have such a lovely time together out and about on the circuit with the horses.

    Sally is my childhood friend and she and Liz have shown horses for over 30 years. We had ponies together as teenagers and a few years ago I decided I wanted to get back into horses. Sally and Liz were there to help and I started to go to shows with them and my coloured cob.

    The first show I went to I fell over in the horsebox and Sally nearly stabbed me with a plaiting needle, before attempting to leg Liz onto her horse and tripping up again. But it didn’t put me off; it was just the start of the fun to come.

    Hickstead dreaming

    I got a taste for the bigger county shows and wanted a horse who could take me to that level; between us we found my incredible cob Randalstown Rolex. As I’d watched and admired Liz’s riding for years, I asked her to share the ride with me.

    We took Rolex to the Royal International (RIHS), and Liz won and went champion in the amateur cobs and was also second in the open. I was then lucky enough to do the same in the amateurs last year. I cannot explain the feeling; it was beyond my wildest dreams four years ago when I started riding again.

    I am a partner in a wealth management firm in London, and Rolex currently lives with Sally. After a busy day I love going to ride as it helps me switch off. We hack out most nights and it honestly makes me feel like I’m 15 again, not approaching 50.

    Passion becomes obsession

    Like everyone, I was disappointed that Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) announced its cancellation, as this year was the first I was contemplating riding myself. For the past couple of years Liz has taken the ride on Rolex.

    I’m always a little daunted by HOYS; I’m nervous watching Rolex and Liz so I’m not sure how I’d fare if I were doing it myself.

    It’s a rider’s dream to ride at the NEC. The further you delve into showing the more it becomes a main goal. Many end up travelling the lengths and breadths of the country to qualify, and we’re disappointed if we don’t get a ticket, no matter how many “almost” places we achieve in strong classes.

    I would love to see a similar big final held earlier in the year at the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) championships. This would mean we wouldn’t have to keep the horses looking and going on top form until October.

    HOYS is so late in the year and we all worry about coats, clipping and keeping horses in full work. Having an additional prestigious final earlier in the year would help save money – and a lot of stress. But the big finals might not be the same going forward.

    Indoor shows, which rely heavily on spectators, will be greatly affected while social distancing measures remain in place. I was initially optimistic early on in the year but once the RIHS was cancelled I assumed others would follow. It’s disappointing but ultimately unimportant when we see the news and some of the devastating effects of Covid-19.

    Personally, lockdown has allowed me to slow down a bit, enjoy some hacking and more recently attend lessons. Riding is my passion, with or without the shows.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 23 July 2020