Mollie’s top horse is Charly Van Ter Heiden, with whom she won Luhmühlen Horse Trials in June 2021, after an epic journey to compete involving quarantine at Dutch rider Tim Lips’ yard.
Known as ‘Charly’ at home, the 2009 Hanoverian gelding (Contendros Bube x Espanja, by Escudo II) was spotted by Mollie in a European dealer’s yard when she was a teenager. She purchased the gelding and has produced him up the levels ever since.
“I liked his head over the stable door,” she says. “He was the last horse I tried. As he’d never jumped, I just rode him on the flat and I didn’t want to get off, but I was late for the Eurotunnel so I just asked them to send me a video of him loose jumping. He looked OK, so I said, ‘That’ll do.’”
Things weren’t plain sailing initially when Mollie started producing Charly.
“He was nappy, cold and so naughty we discussed whether we’d be able to give him away and came to the conclusion no one would want him,” says Mollie. “He didn’t want to hack and he’d take one step on the sand and fly-buck me off. He was difficult cross-country – he was ditchy and I remember being eliminated at water, but he’s got braver and braver.”
Mollie Summerland and Charly Van Ter Heiden win at Luhmühlen 2021.
The pair tackled their first five-star together at Pau Horse Trials in France in October 2020 where they finished a very creditable 10th.
When did Mollie start riding? Are her parents horsey?
Mollie is not from a particularly horsey background and started riding when she was seven years old at her local riding school.
She began competing in British Eventing competitions when she was 12 and was a member of all the youth programmes, culminating with a place on the British squad at the young rider European Championships in Fontainebleau, France in 2018, where she finished in the top 10.
Her parents are supportive but largely leave Mollie to forge her own path – they are not hands-on supporters, like many young riders’ parents. This financial independence has raised some hard decisions, such as whether to sell Charly.
“I’ve come very close,” says Mollie. “Dad and I dithered, he’d say ‘no’, while I’d think it was my way of financing my future. But I couldn’t go through with it, and it was meant to be. Charly’s not going anywhere.”
Who trains Mollie Summerland?
After her A levels, Mollie took Charly to be based with legendary event rider Pippa Funnell to gain experience and further her training.
Mollie now trains with Carl Hester and Olivia Oakeley on the flat and she produces very impressive scores in the dressage phase. She also trains with international rider Jay Halim for the showjumping and Robin Dumas for cross-country.
Where is Mollie based?
Mollie is based at fellow five-star rider Julia Norman’s yard, Windmill Stud, in Wiltshire.
Mollie Summerland riding Flow 7 at home in July 2021.
Mollie made a number of yard moves before ending up at the Normans and spent much of the winter of 2020/2021 living in her horsebox.
“I feel everyone has to do a few horrible things while they’re getting started,” she says. “But every time you move, you have to pick your whole life up and it’s unsettling for the horses as well as for me. You have to learn about and adapt to your facilities and what works.
“So I am really appreciating the security here – these guys are like a rock, so supportive after some tough times. And psychologically I’ve learnt that I’m good at coping in situations where everything’s going wrong behind the scenes.”