Sponsored rider - Guest blog

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Kilminster Equestrian would like to introduce you to Nicki, our Sponsored rider for 2012. To give you an idea about why we chose Nicki, and find out a bit more about her experiece, she's done Rockya guest blog below.

I have been riding since I was 4 years old, and like Sharon, always had ponies and horses who were a handful, so I’ve never been scared of a challenge! Jumping has always been my passion and something I wanted to pursue, but I always seemed to have the horse but not the transport, or a horse that wouldn’t load, so my competition experience was always limited. 1 pony I had called Rocky (left) was a 14.2 NF x arab, who was a bit of a handful and very cheeky, but lightning fast and an absolute jumping machine! We never went to a show in 10 years without coming home with a red rosette, and he never had a pole down in the ring. He didn’t like loading however, as he’d previously had an accident in a trailer, so it was always a question whether we could actually get to a competition or not - or if we could get home again!

In recent years all I’ve wanted to do is event, but lacking in transport has been a real sticking point, so when I finally got that sorted this year, I went on the lookout for a horse ready to go eventing, hopefully something of a schoolmaster this time so that I could happily get the competition experience without the drama. Along came Willo in June, a 16.2 ISH, and a Grade C showjumper. He’d recently been reschooled for eventing and had been round his first BE90 successfully, so he looked a great candidate.

When I met Sharon in July, we were having some serious teething problems; he was a lovely chap but very different from the TBs and finer breeds I was used to, and whilst completely unspooky and a delight to handle in most ways, he was showing violent headshaking symptoms which had never been apparent before. Sharon soon identified it as a reluctance to accept a contact rather than headshaking syndrome, and so began our flatwork. Since then I’ve had regular lessons on helping Willo to trust the contact, and Sharon was quite right in her assessment and we have made huge progress since then on the flat – working on me as well as Willo.

That aside, we have also worked on our jumping as he’d been putting in some stops, and Sharon has sorted out my position to help with this. Having been used to a TB who took a fence from a flyer every time, coming back to a showjumper with a technique to get deep to a fence meant I was often getting in front of the movement and making it difficult for Willo to pick up. After assessing the situation, I’ve had weekly lessons with Sharon ever since, and our progress has been major. We’ve been to our first 3 dressage competitions (my first ever introduction to dressage!), won or been placed every time out showjumping, and likewise won or been placed every time out XC.

When the sponsorship opportunity came up, I was really excited because the timing couldn’t have been better. I am on the brink of realising my dream of going eventing, and the idea of having Sharon’s support and mentoring to help me step up to affiliated competition was very appealing. Not only that, but I do feel as though I am a testament to Sharon’s teaching – in 23 years I’ve never come across someone who intuitively understands a horse like Sharon does, and her expertise has taken me from thinking about parting with Willo, to planning our BE and BS diary for 2012, all in the space of 6 months.

I want to be able to demonstrate how far I’ve come with Sharon’s support, and whilst that is a bit daunting, I’m so excited about being chosen to represent Kilminster Equestrian, and hopefully encourage other people to make the most of Sharon’s knowledge and expertise too. She is a fantastic coach, and I would recommend anyone looking for an instructor to book a lesson – you just might have the revelation I have!  I genuinely wouldn’t think about using any other instructor.    

We will continue to have lessons each week and ongoing support from Sharon as we look to the start of the 2012 eventing season – hopefully I will be able to update soon with competition or training news. We are currently working with my 4y/o Ruby too, who has just started learning to jump, so with any luck you might be hearing about her first steps towards competition too!

Willo SJ Sparsholt

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