The Horsezone.co.uk Para Club Championships took place in the Andrews Bowen Indoor Arena on Tuesday at the British Showjumping National Championships and provided an impressive display of teamwork by all horse and rider combinations competing.
The Championships consisted of six titles awarded in various grades. The grading system ranges from Grade I, II, III, IV and Open with grades representative of the competitor’s level of disability.
The first class to take place was the Horsezone.co.uk National Para Equestrian Open Championship which is open to any competitor who is classed as having a disability. The competition was fiercely contested but ultimately it was Toby Bevins from Chippenham, Wiltshire riding his own 15 year-old chestnut gelding Askan Van Overis who came out on top.
Toby competed with various stitches still in place after leaving hospital last Thursday following a battery replacement in his Vagus Nerve Stimulator. Toby also trains with Anne Newbury, British Showjumping Para Chef d’Equipe.
The Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade III Championship was the second title to be contested. Louise Hacker from Clevedon, North Somerset riding her own 9 year-old liver chestnut mare Bally Cohigh (different from schedule) fought hard and was awarded this championship title after a fierce competition. Louise suffered multiple fractures in her right leg in 1991 after an eventing accident and now cannot walk or ride without a brace. She is also missing her middle finger on her left hand due to a lunging accident, courtesy of Bally Cohigh.
Louise told us that she was very proud of her mare’s speedy round and explained that Bally Cohigh had a disability of her own. Bally Cohigh currently suffers from Head Shaking Syndrome and therefore cannot wear a metal bit. Louise also told us that this was only the second show after her mare’s kissing spine op.
Lincolnshire based Evie Toombes, aged 13, won the Horsezone.co.uk Para Club Equestrian Junior Grade III Championship on Penshaws Party Time, an 18 year-old dark bay gelding owned by Caroline Toombes with the fastest time of the day. Evie has been diagnosed with lipomyelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida and this causes leg weakness, bladder and bowel problems. For Evie, horses are her therapy and she was quite rightly delighted with her performance
It was Matthew Dalley from Willington, Derbyshire who was victorious on his own 10 year-old black gelding Garryknock in the Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade II. It was Matthew’s first time at nationals with his horse and has only had ‘Gary’ since the beginning of 2015. “It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s the first time I’ve won. Can’t believe it I’m really, really pleased.” said Matthew.
The Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade I saw Mark Jones clinch the title with his fantastic round on his own 12 year-old bay mare Whisper XXI. Mark completed the course to claim the top spot at what is only his second ever Para Showjumping competition.
Mark has spent all his working life in the Equestrian industry including working as a groom for Julian Mincher. It wasn’t until 2010 that Mark became ill and was diagnosed with Lupis. Mark is on morphine 24 hours a day and also struggles with short term memory loss, making remembering a showjumping course an additional challenge.
Incredibly Mark has never had a single lesson in his life and trained his horse, Whisper XXI, himself. Mark says that Whisper can be ‘quirky’ but they have built a strong bond in the six years he has owned her.
Mark, who is also a Grade II Para Dressage Rider, was thrilled with the day’s results. “I don’t think I can explain, it is the best feeling ever. It is an amazing feeling; I am so, so proud of my horse, she has literally saved my life. She got me back outside again after being house bound and got me through the bad times because I always knew I had her.”
The Andrews Bowen Indoor Arena was graced today with the presence of Britain’s only blind showjumper Karen Law and her own 9 year-old grey mare Silver Silhouette whose stable name is Pearl. Karen told us that Pearl was presented to her at the Royal Windsor Show by Dame Emma Jane Brown who is her mentor and main supporter. Karen described the bond that she has with her guide Rebecca Marsh, daughter of her trainer Adrian Marsh, and told us “The trust is there, she’s amazing because she’s very calm, she’s a nice girl I trust her and she knows Pearl as well.” Spectators were incredibly supportive whilst watching Karen complete the challenging course which fed the electric atmosphere.
British Showjumping National Championships – Tuesday 11th August 2015
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Equestrian Open
1st Toby Bevins & Askan Van Overis
2nd Sally Kingsley & Amarillo II
3rd Louise Hacker & Bally Cohigh
4th Ahmed Sharbatly & Quetzal Du Granit
5th Sally Kingsley & Enchanto
6th Sarah Wicks & Avalon Mill
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade III
1st Louise Hacker & Bally Cohigh
2nd Ahmed Sharbatly & Quetzal Du Granit
3rd Justine Bowers & Breeze of Madison County
4th Simon Bright & Causeways Quiz Master
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade III Junior
1st Evie Toombes & Penshaws Partytime
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade II
1st Matthew Dalley & Garryknock
2nd Claire Pope & Kinclaire Lady
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade I
1st Mark Jones & Whisper XI
2nd Karen Bostock & Rossini IV
3rd Alex Mcnamara & Murphy and the Bricks
Horsezone.co.uk National Para Club Equestrian Grade IV
1st Karen Law & Silhouette
The British Showjumping National Championships and Stoneleigh Horse Show 2015 is hosted at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh, Warwickshire during the 11th-16th August. For further information, please visit www.bsnationalchampionships.co.uk