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Moving On Up By William Eustace

by | Apr 23, 2023

I qualified for the Pony Club Spring Festival on the 31st of December my 12th birthday. I entered the Debut (85cm) and the Challenge (95cm). It was the first time I had jumped a course of 95cm at a show and mum and I were really pleased as I qualified for both classes. We did not realise that the festival was such a big deal and decided to go as our first stay away this year.

The lead up to the show was terrible with flooding, snow and ice which meant I only had 6 lessons to prepare! I was really lucky that the amazing Showjumper Elliott Smith was able to help me. I’ve always looked up to him as a role model as he taught me through the pony club when I started riding and he isn’t that old himself, but already rides at top level.

We arrived at the Spring Festival at Arena UK on Friday night with three other friends from my Pony Club the Taunton Vale Harriers. We settled Rafe and thought we’d have a look around.

As you can see from the photos, the jumps were huge! Some were 1.10!! I was still proud of jumping 95cm!! Mum said I didn’t have to do the classes on Saturday as they were for the Challenge and the Debut on Sunday would be smaller but I really wanted to have a go as Elliott had been upping the height we were practicing over. Mum didn’t eat supper that night but I did as I was hungry!

All the classes I jumped had between 60-100 competitors in, they lasted for hours!
On Saturday morning I jumped the speed class and came 9th!! I was gutted rosettes only went to 8th! I then did the championship but didn’t make the final. Which was fine as I was one of the youngest there as some riders were 25!!

On the Sunday I did the first class which was 95cm and had an optimum time (this means the person closest to the set time wins, not the fastest). No one knew how to ride it as there were ponies and horses competing. Rafe has a really big stride so I went around the long way and came 16th. Then in the final we got into the jump off which was really exciting as only 30 made
it through. We weren’t fast enough for a place but it was one of the best experiences
I’ve ever had at a show! Some of the riders
there were amazing, the turns they could do
were awesome!
I definitely want to qualify next year!!

I also want to thank Barrier H who kindly sponsored the show and made it a really super event especially with the grooming fairy! They had the most lovely lady help us make our ponies shine!!! And I mean shine!! It was so kind of her, she even plaited some of the ponies! And a big thank you to Deborah from Area 15 who was so supportive and really made me smile it was so kind of her to come and be there for us.

William Eustace