Pony team win silver at European Championships, Arezzo

The GB Pony Team riding under the sponsorship banner of Team Fairfax did the nation proud today by securing a Team Silver at their European Championships in Arezzo, Italy.

PONY Team on the Silver Podium

Looking incredibly strong from the outset and with all four riders having put in solid performances, Great Britain were in pole position after the first round.

Heading the leaderboard on a zero penalty score after the first round early this morning the riders came back for the second round at 4pm this afternoon. Jumping in reverse order, Great Britain were the last of the ten nations to come forward with the competition taking the same format as the Nations Cup competitions where only the three best scores count allowing one of the team members rounds to be a drop score.

Germany, France and Ireland were sitting in joint 2nd place on 4 penalties and France and Ireland on joint 5th on 8 penalties. With just two fences dividing the top six places there was all to play for and none of the nations were going to let the opportunity of winning a medal out of their grasp easily.

Amy Inglis, aged 16 years from Haywards Heath, West Sussex with her mother’s (Claire) 14 year-old chesnut mare Lea du Genier were the first to go for the team. Putting in a brilliant clear this morning, they incurred 4 penalties this afternoon. With rider after rider collecting penalties after them, each of the teams in contention found themselves accruing points.

Next to go was Emily Ward, aged 14 years from Neston, Cheshire with her father’s (Nick) 8 year-old chestnut gelding King Mac. This morning had seem them collect 4 penalties on course, however a perfect clear in round two saw their performance leave Great Britain in first place position.

Faye Adams, aged 15 years from Halesowen with her mother’s (Julie) 14 year-old chestnut mare Some Like It Hot were the third rider for the team. Putting in a great clear earlier, they just missed out on another and came through the finish with 4 penalties.

With all of the nation’s having put forward their third riders, the three nations set to battle it out for Gold were Germany, Great Britain and France if their final rider jumped clear enabling them to drop score their first riders penalties. As Germany’s final rider passed the finish line having jumped clear it meant that they carried just their 4 penalties from this morning and it was heart-in-the-mouth time waiting for the final French rider to go. Unbelievably, their fourth team member whom had jumped clear in the morning was eliminated making it a two way fight between ourselves and Germany.

Entering into the arena, Millie Allen, aged 15 years from Stockton-on-Tees with her father’s (Peter) 10 year-old bay mare Song Girl knew she had to jump clear if were to go into a third and deciding round with Germany. Looking set to do just this it was gut-wrenching to see the flag go up at the water to indicate she had touched the tape whilst leaving all the fences standing and incur 4 penalties.

This saw Great Britain take the Team Silver position with Germany in Gold and Ireland take Bronze on their finish score of 12 penalties. France dropped down into 4th position on an end score of 16 penalties.

Talking after the competition GB Pony Chef d’Equipe, Katrina Moore said “It’s always upsetting to be that close to a Gold Medal and to lose it from your grasp at the last minute, but it shouldn’t detract from the tremendous achievement we’ve had here today. We have won a team silver against incredibly strong teams and Germany were always going to be the one to beat. All four members of the team along with our fifth rider Alex Gill have been have been consistent throughout the qualifying competitions and we now head towards the Individual Final on Sunday with all of five of them having qualified. I’m incredibly proud of everyone and their performances, I really am.”

Further information about the show and the competition schedule can be found by visiting www.arezzoequestriancentre.com.

The British Youth teams are sponsored by Fairfax Saddles. It is Fairfax’s primary aim to improve the performance of the competition horse. All the saddles and girths are developed using the most advanced technology and are tested extensively. All research and design work is carried out under the direction of Vanessa Fairfax, an ex-International showjumper and University qualified designer. The company is based in Walsall and manufactures all its own products. For more information, please visit www.fairfaxsaddles.com.
The GB Showjumping Teams are strongly supported by the UK Sport Lottery funded BEF World Class Programme. The teams are further supported by Animo UK, Champion Hats, Next and Toggi.

For further information on the Championships and results, please visit www.sunshinetour.net

Competition winners announced!

It’s time to announce the winners of the competition that we run in conjunction with the Pony Club to win gorgeous items from the Toggi Black Collection!

Our two lucky winners were Amanda Friend and Megan Lily Collinson. Amanda and Megan have each won a Toggi Pixie jacket, a Toggi Delilah shirt, a Toggi Melody satchel and purse and the funky Toggi Salsa socks.  Well done Amanda and Megan!

We also have two runners up who have each won a Toggi Melody satchel and purse – Joanne Wakeling and conor Stevenson. Well done Joanne and Conor!

We are proud to continue to support the Pony Club and all the fun, enjoyment and education that it brings to younger riders around the country – training the stars of tomorrow!

Toggi Black Collection

Juniors win team silver at European Championships

The British Junior Team riding under the Team Fairfax banner and who we are delighted to support, along with the young rider, pony and children teams,  won Team Silver this morning (19th July) at their European Championships in Vejer de la Frontera in Spain.

British Junior Show Jumping team

The team consisting of the following riders put in brilliant performances to take Silver position on the podium just behind Switzerland and ahead of the Dutch team.  The Team competition see’s four horse/rider combinations compete across two rounds with three of the four best rounds counting allowing for one round to be the drop score.  Finishing on a total score of 12 penalties as the result of three fences being lowered, Great Britain finished just one fence behind Switzerland on 8 penalties and a jump ahead of the Dutch team on 16 penalties.

Emma O’Dwyer aged 18 from Churchdown, Gloucestershire with Joanne O’Dwyer’s 10 year-old grey mare, Miss Tonic took the role of pathfinder.  An unlucky two fences down in the first round saw them as the drop score in round 1.  Round 2 saw them just incur an unfortunate 4 penalties.

Jake Saywell aged 16 from Newark, Nottinghamshire with Andrew Saywell’s 8 year-old bay gelding, Farinelli Van De Zeshoek followed next for the team.  A fence down in the first round saw them accrue 4 penalties, but a brilliant clear in the second round saw Great Britain move into a strong and potential medal winning position.

Laura Robinson aged 18 from Northallerton, North Yorkshire with the 14 year-old liver chestnut gelding, Cree Cruiser who is jointly owned by Neil Robinson and Geoffrey Robinson followed.  Again, a good performance across both rounds saw just one fence being lowered each time with 4 penalties being accrued in both rounds.

Jessica Mendoza aged 17 from Chippenham, Wiltshire with Spirit T, a 12 year-old brown mare owned by John Roberts took the role of anchor rider for the team. In the calm and focused style that has become synonymous with those that have followed Jessica over the years, she didn’t appear to let the pressure affect her in any way at all.  Having put in a brilliant clear in the first round, she followed this once again breaking the finish line on zero penalties within the time allowed.  Producing one of the very few double clears achieved within the competition, Jessica’s performance was enough to ensure a medal winning finish for Great Britain and the support team standing by the arena erupting into cheers of elation.

The European Championships invited a total of 47 nations across Europe to compete with the British Team contesting the championships under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe and Team Coach Corinne Bracken.  Talking after the awards ceremony Corinne commented “It was a nail biting class with no-one knowing the result until the very last horse in the competition jumped.

“The support that we’ve had at this Championship across parents, owners, grooms and family alike has definitely added to the success of the team.  This has also been furthered by the representation of the World Class Showjumping Team who are elated at the result achieved.  We are now all focused on hopefully delivering more positive news for Great Britain across the Young Rider and Children Teams both of whom will also be competing for Team Medals today.”

The British Youth teams are sponsored by Fairfax Saddles. It is Fairfax’s primary aim to improve the performance of the competition horse. All the saddles and girths are developed using the most advanced technology and are tested extensively. All research and design work is carried out under the direction of Vanessa Fairfax, an ex-International showjumper and University qualified designer. The company is based in Walsall and manufactures all its own products. For more information, please visit www.fairfaxsaddles.com.

The GB Showjumping Teams are strongly supported by the UK Sport Lottery funded BEF World Class Programme. The teams are further supported by Animo UK, Champion Hats, Next and Toggi.

For further information on the Championships and results, please visit www.sunshinetour.net

My hat saved my life…

On Friday March 11, 2012, Mariah Stewart was to encounter a life changing experience; one which would see her escape death by the finest of margins. Colette Armitage discovers Mariah’s miraculous story of bravery as she starts on the long road to recovery.

19-year-old Mariah Stewart joined Easton College in September 2010 to take her BTEC Level two Diploma in Horse Care. Coming from a knowledgeable equestrian home, where her family breeds a variety of different pony breeds, she was ambitious and destined to gain her qualifications to allow her to achieve her ultimate goal; to work at The Royal Stud in Sandringham. Little did she know, that in 2012 at Easton College she would suffer life-threatening injuries that pushed her perilously close to being permanently paralysed.

“I was doing a normal day’s work experience when I went to get two horses in from the field,” explains Mariah. “I was wearing all my correct safety equipment which included my properly fitted riding hat (done up and fastened), yard boots and gloves. I led the two horses in and handed one horse to a student. As I got the other horse into the stable and turned around to shut the stable door, she spooked, jumping towards me. The force of the impact sent me flying backwards. I was slammed against the concrete onto the back of my head,” Mariah recalls. The impact of the fall knocked Mariah out immediately. “I am told that emergency services were called straight away, but they couldn’t air lift me to hospital until I was stable. I had fractured my skull and was losing a lot of blood; in the end it took them two hours to stabilise me.”

Mariah was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where they X-rayed her and undertook an M.R.I scan. They found a potentially fatal bleed on the brain and a fractured skull. “I was rushed into emergency surgery where they inserted a bolt into my skull to monitor my brain throughout surgery. They then made an incision into my skin and removed the right hand side of my skull where it was damaged.” Mariah finally came out of the life saving operation five hours later but was immediately put into an induced coma for nine days to reduce brain activity and help the brain to heal after the trauma. It was touch and go for two weeks and the outcome of Mariah’s recovery wasn’t certain, as the level of brain damage couldn’t be assessed until she awoke.

“The doctors knew there was a high chance I could be paralysed, but I eventually came round. When I did, I thought I was at college and I asked where the horses were! The first thing I could move was my feet. However, with a lot of help from physiotherapy, slowly but surely, I started to move the rest of my body. I struggled to move the right-hand side of my body, but I eventually got there. I have now made a full recovery; I am very lucky to be alive and owe it all to my Champion riding hat.”

After the accident, Mariah’s riding hat was sent to the manufacturer, Champion, to be inspected. What they found was truly incredible. “There were no significant damage marks on the outer surface of the hat, however, having removed the shock absorbing polystyrene liner from the shell it was quite evident that the lower back edge of the lining had been completely crushed where Mariah fell,” explains Tony Palkowski from Champion Manufacturing. He added: “This accident highlights the importance of wearing a good quality helmet manufactured to an up-to-date standard as recommended by various riding organisations. If a horse spooks in a confined space there is nowhere to run; your helmet and body protector provides the only protection. Modern hats and body protectors are so lightweight and comfortable these days, riders shouldn’t have an excuse not to wear one!”

The impact of the fall had left Mariah with only half a millimetre between life and death. “That half a millimetre saved my life,” emphasises Mariah.

Hilary Francois, Equestrian Centre Manager at Easton College, says it was a wake up call for everyone. “At Easton College all students are required to wear a riding hat which is securely fastened when handling any of the horses; it is paramount. No matter how safe you think a horse is, at the end of the day horse riding is a high-risk sport, which I sometimes feel is not recognised enough. However the risks do need to be addressed, at Easton College we consistently promote equine courses and encourage anyone who has an interest in horses to take up riding, but non-horsey parents need to be made aware of the dangers, as many may not know of the risks involved,” explains Hilary.

Despite this traumatic experience for Mariah, she returned in September to continue studying. “I have nearly finished my course. I am still enrolled as a student however, I can’t do anything until I get a new hat. I am just waiting for my head to be ready to have the pressure of a hat on it, since at the moment I don’t have part of my skull. To help this I recently had to go in for another operation to have a titanium plate fitted. Once I get the all clear I can’t wait to get on with my life, complete my college diploma and then head off to the National Stud to take a degree in breeding. If I have to say one thing about my experience it would be this; wear a hat at all times when you’re around horses. If it wasn’t for my Champion hat, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story. EQ

Thanks to EQ Life – Your East Anglian Equestrian Magazine – for allowing us to re-publish this article.

My Hat Saved my Life EQ Life

My Hat Saved my Life EQ LifeMy Hat Saved my Life EQ Life