On Saturday 10 October, Second Year pupil Harriet Hodge, finished in an amazing 6th place on her pony Jack, in the Novice Pony British Championship at the British Showjumping Indoor Championships held at the prestigious Aintree Equestrian Centre.
The three-day indoor championships were set up to host a number of the National Finals which were due to take place this summer at the National Championships and also at the Horse of the Year Show. They gave riders the opportunity to contest the titles they had been focusing on during the course of last season.
Having previously competed in two qualifying rounds over the last 12 months, Harriet had earned her chance to compete at the Aintree Championships. On the day, she was one of over 50 starters, so was delighted to finish the competition with a top 10 position.
Harriet said: “It was a big occasion for me and I knew I had some tough competition against riders with much more experience than me. I was determined to do my best and I knew if I rode to the best of my ability I had a good chance of doing well. Jack always tries his best for me; he has a big heart. To finish 6th in a National Championship is a great achievement for Jack and myself.”
Harriet had her first introduction to riding four-and-a-half years ago and began showjumping soon after. She has become hooked and now admits that it is her “passion”. As well as ‘Jack’, Harriet has two other ponies called ‘Enzo’ and ‘Sean’ which she is responsible for caring for and rides almost every day.
It is clear that for Harriet, balancing her hobby and love of showjumping alongside her studies takes huge commitment and resilience, which intensifies in the lead up to competitions. Since the Aintree competition was held in an indoor arena, Harriet needed to adapt her usual training. She competed in some warm up shows leading up to the Championships, had weekly jumping sessions with her coach and practiced her flatwork at home. A week before the Championships, she attended a local indoor show which she used as a warm-up to help Jack get used to jumping indoors.
Harriet said: “When I got Jack he was only 5 years-old, a complete youngster; he had done very little jumping and it was all very new to him. For the last two years I have worked really hard to build his confidence and teach him. I am so pleased with him; he jumped so well for me.”
Preparations have now begun for the year ahead. Harriet’s focus is now on 2021 qualifiers for the major championships including the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead in July, the British Showjumping National Championships in August and the Horse of the Year Show next October.
In addition, Harriet hopes to represent the Pocklington School Equestrian team in upcoming National Schools Equestrian Association competitions and qualifiers with her ponies.
To view a video of Harriet competing in the Novice Pony British Championship, please click the image below:
Photography courtesy of Majestic Photography