Badminton Eventing Success for Year 13 Pupil

The Badminton horse trials are one of the star highlights of the eventing calendar. Year 13 Sedbergh pupil, Katie achieved a dream ambition when she came 3rd out of a field of 43 riders. The event attracts riders from across the UK and also abroad. Katie, drove over six hours to get to Badminton – to an event she says that she has been training for her whole life.

She doesn’t mean that literally – or at least, not entirely! She has been riding since she was two years old and everything she has done has worked up to being capable of riding an event like this. It takes a lot of training; your horse has to be super fit and prepared for the event – and so do you. There’s no way this is an event that you can just turn up to.

The competition was run over 2 days and Katie had no expectations, but after the first event when she knew she’d done well she was uncharacteristically nervous going into the last 2 events. Fortunately though, she has an excellent relationship with her horse, Solitaire King, and that trust helps. Katie started working with her young horse, Solitaire King, just two years ago. By riding standards, that isn’t a long time. He’s a young horse and Katie says having worked with her mum to train him [Solitaire King] from scratch has made her success even more special; his performance is all down to their hard work.

Training is a big commitment. During term-time, Katie’s mum takes her out of boarding twice a week to compete and to train at her home, 2 hours away from Sedbergh, near Newcastle – which is where Solitaire King is stabled. While he could be stabled closer – Sedbergh has their own stables – its a choice Katie and her mum have made. Katie’s mum, herself a renowned competitive rider, is integral to Solitaire King’s training – and she loves working with him. During school breaks Katie rides two horses most days.

Katie is grateful to Sedbergh School who, she says, have been enormously supportive. Fortunately, Katie says says she is a hard-worker and that’s part of the agreement she has with the School and with her mum – if she wants to come out of boarding to ride she has to keep her grades up. Not being able to ride is something that Katie says she doesn’t want to happen! So, she makes sure her grades are good!

As you’d expect for an elite, competitive athlete, the sacrifices have been many. Over the years, Katie says that missing the School’s weekend social activities has been a bit hard, but riding is what she loves. Riding is an escape and although sometimes its been hard, overall she hasn’t minded it – it’s been a good thing. Katie is also vice captain of the netball team. The occasional clashes between netball and riding commitments have to be weighed up to decide which one she’ll do.

When she finishes her A levels in a few weeks time Katie is taking a year out to travel and to ride – she’s aiming to compete at another top event, Blair Castle International Horse Trials, this summer. After a year out she hopes to study psychology at a university near to home.

So far, Katie hasn’t followed any of the pathways typically followed by high-level riders; for instance, many riders of Katie’s standard are home-schooled. However, with her mum’s knowledge and experience of eventing, Katie and her mum have managed Katie’s journey whilst she’s been boarding. With her A levels nearly finished but she’ll be seeing how everything goes.

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