My First Blog as the Shearwater Search for a Star Winner 2018!

Hi everyone,

I am still jumping up and down with excitement to have won the Shearwater Search for a Star competition – it most definitely has not sunk in that I am now writing my first blog!! I cannot even begin to thank Shearwater for what a huge difference this will make to my very busy horsey season ahead.

I guess I should begin with a little introduction about myself. My name is Sophie, I’m a 23-year-old rider and live a totally crazy life in between London and Shropshire. During the week I work as a Marketing Executive for American Express in London where I live with two equally horse-obsessed housemates. I am very lucky to be able to work from home some days which gives me the time to travel back to my family home in leafy Shropshire where the two loves of my life are based – Gus and George.

Gus is my beloved event horse; he is a 16.1 KWPN x Thoroughbred who continues to amaze all of us with what he can achieve! We bought him in 2012 as a lovely, cuddly character who I could have a bit of fun with in between the university holidays. He had done a handful of events but his flatwork in particular needed a lot of work and we were told not to expect him to set the world alight. From the moment we bought him he has just never stopped trying his heart out and continues to get better and better everyday. He is how we first met Shearwater back in 2016 when we won the Shearwater EHOA award at Badminton Grassroots champs. This was a total dream come true and a level we never thought he would reach. Since then he has returned to the Badminton champs in 2017 and so this is the big exciting year we look to step beyond grassroots eventing to the big bold aim of running novice – brave pants will most definitely be needed!!

Gorgeous George is my second horse who is at the ripe old age of 21! He is a coloured 15.3 ISH who my parents bought to do showing with many years ago. He likes to think he is a 5-year-old Stallion and sometimes needs reminding that he needs to act his age but that just makes him all the more loveable. I took over the ride on George about 18 months ago when the hunt came round our house and ‘old’ George decided to canter pirouette around his field. It was at that moment I thought he really needs a job to do! He certainly wasn’t ready for full retirement yet, and so the journey to becoming a dressage diva began! It is all about having fun with little George – as long as he’s enjoying himself, I’m enjoying myself.

Kick-starting 2018

It is both hard to believe we are already almost into March of 2018 but when I take a look back at what has happened so far it sure has been busy! Last month we began the New Year with a bang as I was SO lucky to be a part of the Student Rider World Championships. Riding on a team of 3 for Great Britain I was very nervous of letting everyone down but I gave it my all. We came away with team Gold in the Dressage, Gold in the SJ and the overall Gold making us World Champions 2017. I also won individual silver making me reserve champion – how on earth did that happen?!! This is a slightly crazy competition where we compete on totally unknown horses in both Dressage and SJ up to PSG freestyle and 1m30 respectively. I told you it was crazy! I cannot imagine competing at that level on my own horses sometimes but there is something about the student riding atmosphere that somehow spurs me on to ride at my best and I just love it. I am also the Chairman of the GB Student Riders team and cannot wait for the year ahead where we have 5 Nations Cups coming up, starting in Spain over Easter! The competitions run over 3 days and every evening there are plenty of fun cultural activities and parties to get stuck into so no doubt there will be lots of fun stories to share with you all!

Gus has so far been focusing on his SJ this year. In attempt to find those brave pants we have been out SJ twice (which admittedly is the phase I struggle with the most). So far (touch wood) so good – he has been a little angel placing 2nd and 4th in his first ever 1.10m courses at competition – yay!! No doubt we still have lots of room for improvement and I cannot wait to get some training sessions in which I usually can never afford.

George hasn’t been missing out on a bit of the limelight – he has officially been registered British Dressage and been out to his very first ever BD competitions. It seems 2nd is our lucky placing as he has come runner-up in all three tests so far! No one can believe he is 21 and to see my dad’s face light up every time he sees his horse strut his stuff is priceless. I am thrilled to say he has already qualified for the BD Veteran Horse Society Championships which was one of our big goals for this year!!! It seems he won’t be stopping just yet.

So that’s it from me for this blog. I thought I’d finish by giving a top tip every month from what I have been up to and what I have learnt. This month mine would be: you have to be in it to win it. Undoubtedly I never ever EVER expected to win the Shearwater Search for a Star competition. However, as I am sure many of you can relate to, being a competitive rider who is totally in love with my horses I thought I would give it a go. My advice would be – never hesitate to go for something because you never know what could happen. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to apply for this and it will truly make all the difference to helping me achieve my 2018 dreams.

Have a great rest of the month – I hope the sun shines for you all and any readers with horses at home – have fun!!

Sophie x

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