‘He’s a riding school horse in the week, and a jumper on the weekends’: 17-year-old gelding jumps to winter bronze league glory

  • A 17-year-old gelding led a six-strong jump off to clinch the NAF Five Star winter bronze league championship at the 2022 British Showjumping Spring Championships at Northcote Stud (24—27 March).

    Shannon Wilson made use of her own Casallasca’s athleticism and scope to jump the final round in a time of 34.36, which was over five seconds clear of the second fastest time achieved by Claire Chambers and Meacham Quickstep.

    Shannon was given “Larry” nine years ago after his former owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

    Larry is based at riding school Trentvalley Equestrian Centre where Shannon works.

    “He’s a riding school horse during the week and a jumping horse at the weekends,” said Shannon, who made a four-and-a-half hour journey to compete at Northcote at the 2022 British Showjumping Spring Championships for the first time.

    Larry initially came from Michael Whittaker’s yard but it was decided he wasn’t going to make the grade.

    “He was a bit of a write off,” Shannon continued. “He had suspensory issues and he’s got a club foot, but with very good farriery we’ve managed to keep him sound and fit his entire career. I also have to credit my sponsors, NAF; Larry has been on NAF Five Star Superflex for the nine years.”

    Shannon was making a victorious comeback to top level competition after seriously fracturing her spine.

    “I broke my spine in half; it was dislodged by about 40 degrees,” she explained. “But Larry’s very good, he just takes me round.

    “When you’ve had an older horse who has jumped bigger tracks and it’s time to step down, it can be difficult to know which direction to go in. It’s nice to have something like the bronze league to aim for as you still get to ride in a big final at a prestigious show.”

    At home, Larry isn’t ridden in the school:

    “He’ll buck me off if I go into an arena, so he’s hacked out mid-week and jumped at the weekends. It’s an easy life.”

    “The first round of the class is the difficult part for us,” commented Shannon. “The combination down the long side was quite distracting and Larry isn’t that big so he finds it hard to make up the distance.

    “The jump off is his time to shine; you kick him on and he knows his job. You could show him the course plan and he’d take you round if he could.”

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