He did it! British eventer, Jonty Evans, began fundraising in July to buy Cooley Rorkes Drift AKA 'Art', the horse he rode at the Rio Olympics in 2016 after its owner put it up for sale.
"I'm a blithering wreck, I can't believe how people have helped.
“The fact that Art is going to stay with us now and this will be his forever home is a really, really, really special thing. People have done it for us.”
"The horse's performances at Rio and at Badminton have shown that he is a top class horse and the rest is about the relationship and the partnership and people have really taken that to their hearts."
Evans now hopes to compete in the European championships.
"Then at the end of next year, the world games in America (FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 in North Carolina) and the future - looking towards Tokyo and the Olympic games."
He added that there was "no way" Art would be sold in the future.
The smallest changes can sometimes reap the biggest rewards. Getting stuck in a rut is frustrating, and when you are happy to put in the work and are just desperate for an improvement it can just get infuriating when it doesn’t happen. All I can say is perseverance is worth it…
A recent breakthrough for me was a very slight adjustment in my position which was made by an instructor. I hadn’t appreciated that my weight was every so slightly heavier at the back of my seat, and as a result I wasn’t following Archie’s movements, I was blocking him. By altering this I was able to allow him to move freely behind and not give him confusing mixed messages of forward with the leg but back with the seat and hand. This was the epiphany I needed! And wow did it make a difference. I suddenly found my leg position was more effective, I was more secure, and more importantly Archie was more settled.
What I felt in the moments at home when I put everything together on my own and managed to re-create the feelings I had in the lesson was such a moment of relief. It can be hard work when you want to improve and get better but you feel that things have stagnated, both for you and the horse. Getting a new opinion, a different perspective and some alternative advice (from someone you trust), might just open that door which is being so stubborn. I won’t go through all the details of our lesson, as every rider is different and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for those reading this, but I urge you all to think outside the box and if things are feeling stale don’t stop searching for you own epiphany.
British Eventing selectors have announced the squad that will compete at the FEI European Championships in Strzegom, Poland (17 – 20 August 2017).
As the most experienced rider on the team, Tina Cook will be travelling to her eighth Europeans and Rosalind Canter will make her championship debut. Five of the selected horses will make senior championship debuts whilst The Pebbles Syndicate’s Quicklook V will travel to her second consecutive major championship with Gemma Tattersall.
The GB squad (In alphabetical order) :
Rosalind Canter, 31, based in Lincolnshire, with Caroline Moore's and her own Allstar B
Kristina (Tina) Cook, 46, based in West Sussex, with Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson’s Billy The Red. Tina is also selected with Pip Wates, Ailsa Wates and Equine Aqua Training’s Calvino II as a direct reserve.
Piggy French, 36, based in Leicestershire, with Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo (pictured riding Vanir Kamira)
Gemma Tattersall, 32, based in West Sussex, with the Pebbles Syndicate’s Quicklook V
Oliver Townend, 34, based in Shropshire, with Angela Hislop’s Cooley SRS
Nicola Wilson, 40, based in North Yorkshire, with James and Jo Lambert’s Bulana.
There are plenty of products on the equine market with rather impressive price tags which make very ambitious claims about the results they can achieve. Although I am hesitant to make generalised assumptions, one of my biggest concerns is how rarely there is published evidence available to back up the claims made by these products. As with everything in life there is an element of personal experience and positive reinforcement; if you used it for one horse and it worked, then you are likely to use it again. The question really comes when we start examining whether the interventions, feed supplements and products we use on our horses can produce repeatable and reliable effects time after time.
One example which got me thinking about these issues were the products that are available for rehabilitation of injuries through supposed manipulation of infrared radiation (IR). The theory is that the materials used reflect the horses natural radiation back onto itself and since IR is known to increase circulation it is therefore inferred that it is beneficial for healing muscular, tendon and ligamentous injuries. In sports medicine for humans IR lamps are often used to treat sports injuries with plenty of evidence to back up their use so I do not deny therefore it may well be beneficial in aiding a horse’s recovery from injury, but what I question is whether equipment which does not provide an external source of IR is able to do this. How replicable would results be if a study were to be undertaken? These issues are something I touched on in my previous blog In search of the truth about joint supplements, but since writing that piece I have seen endless areas of equine care which are not backed up with appropriate research and evidence.
The closing comment to these sorts of discussions is what harm can it do? A vital point, and one which I duly take note of, however if I am going to shell out over £200 on a rug I would like a little more than, “well it won’t do any harm”.
I often use products which have limited or no evidence for their use, both on myself and on Archie, and this blog is not here to say that I feel these products should not be used, I merely propose that we ask the question. Be inquisitive, question the status quo, and one day the equine world might start answering.
Cooley Rorkes Drift AKA 'Art' has been produced by Jonty Evans since he was 5 years old. Together they finished ninth and the best of the Irish riders at the Rio Olympics last year.
Now 11, and coming in to his prime Art might get taken away from him. Jonty is launching a crowdfunding website www.jontyandart.com to help raise several hundred thousand pounds needed to keep Art in his care.
Art is currently owned by Fiona Elliott and her mother Ann Nobbs. Jonty was asked to ride Art when Fiona started a family, initially for just a year, and he considers himself lucky to have continued riding him.
However, as Art's talent has begun to shine on the world stage it was inevitable that 'interest' in him has come from other countries...
Jonty describes Art as inspirational - a talented horse with so much ability.
"The horse that I feel at one with, my partner, my best friend. He wouldn’t let me down, and I will try everything I can to not let him down. I need people’s help."
“Owning an event horse has always been the privilege of the wealthy, but I hope it might appeal to people to get involved. Anybody can donate and so anybody can get involved in supporting Art’s journey. We are hoping to have T-shirts and photos printed to offer to people, so that they can feel part of the family that will own Art.”
“We hope that Art can become The People’s Horse. If, and I know it’s a huge if, 5,000 people around the world could see their way to donating £100 each, we could afford to buy him — and the beauty of the plan is that, he would never again be under threat of being sold. This is a one-off thing and if we can buy him once then he and I can stay together for good.”
Writing on social media Jonty adds
'...the response so far has blown me away - you are a truly amazing bunch of people - just imagine if we can make this work!? Art will be "The Peoples Horse" - just imagine if then we could win something big - just imagine the party!! Thank you all so much for your support so far - it is a long road ahead, but maybe, just maybe .........!! the website will be live by Thursday evening at 18.00hrs it will be on www.jontyandart.com ...'
Riding Upsilon, Carlile became the first competitor in the series to lead a ERM leg across all three Eventing phases.
The combination set the Barbury crowd alight with a superlative jumping round on the cross country, scooping the £16,000 first prize.
The result was an all-time record finishing score in the ERM series of 32.4.
3rd (NZL) Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II
William Fox-Pitt (GBR) riding Clifton Signature leads the CIC*** dressage after the first day of competition at the St. James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials.
Fox-Pitt, who recently took over the ride on Clifton Signature from Jonathan Paget, performed a lovely dressage to score 40.7 penalties.
Commenting after his dressage, Fox-Pitt said;
“It’s early days as this is my first dressage on Clifton Signature at this level. He is a lovely horse and I think there is more to come from him in this phase. I am very happy with that and it’s great to be here at Barbury”.
Britain holds the first two places, with Oliver Townend riding Note Worthy in second on 42.9 penalties. Just one mark behind on 43.9, is Andrew Nicolson (NZL), the five times consecutive winner of the CIC*** competition at Barbury,riding Swallow Springs.
The St. James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials continues tomorrow with the CIC*** and CIC** dressage and British Eventing competitions and also continues on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th July.
Former world and European Eventing champion Zara Tindall and leading Jump Jockey Bridget Andrews have today been announced as the respective team captains of the Eventers v Jump Jockeys JCB Champions Challenge. The unique horse race between the country’s top riders, will be held on Saturday 8th of July at the St. James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF).
The race will feature two teams with an awesome line up of some of the best Jump Jockeys and Event Riders in the country, competing against each other over a specially designed course in Barbury’s main arena.
Zara Tindall to captain the Eventers
Zara took the Eventing World Championships in 2006 and went on to be voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the following December. She was also part of the silver medal winning British Eventing team at the London 2012 Olympics. Zara captained the Eventers in the inaugural running of the JCB Champions Challenge in 2014, and joining her aiming to defend their 2016 JCB Champions Challenge crown are an impressive trio of Event riders:
Jonty Evans (IRE) – who represented Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics riding Cooley Rorkes Drift and delivered an excellent performance to finish 9th
Dan Jocelyn (NZL) – rode in the 2004 Athens Olympics and is a current member of the New Zealand High Performance Futures squad
Holly Woodhead (GBR) – notched up many successes at young rider level and went on to represent Great Britain at senior level in the 2015 European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle
Bridget Andrews – Team Captain the Jump Jockeys
A former Champion lady amateur rider, Bridget became a conditional jockey in 2015 and is now one of the country’s most successful female jump jockeys. Since joining the powerful stable of trainer Dan Skelton, Bridget is riding plenty of winners and is certainly one to watch for the future. Bridget is the first woman to captain the Jump Jockeys and completing her team are three multiple Cheltenham Festival winning riders;
Nico De Boinville – 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup and 2016 Champion Chase winning jockey
Wayne Hutchinson – 2015 Hennessy Gold Cup and multiple Cheltenham Festival winner and stable jockey to Barbury based Alan King
Harry Skelton – Cheltenham Festival winning jockey and a rising start of the weighing room. Harry is the son of 2016 Olympic Show-jumping hero, Nick Skelton and stable jockey to his brother Dan.
Commenting ahead of JCB Champions Challenge Bridget Andrews said;
“I hope the Eventers can ‘lay-up’ with the Jump Jockeys as we are hungry to regain our JCB Champion Challenge Crown at Barbury!”.
Zara Tindall, team captain of the Eventers responded:
“The Eventers are ready and plan to put on a real show for visitors to Barbury and the Jump Jockeys should expect to see just a distant rear view of us!”
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), the five times consecutive winner of the CIC*** competition at the St. James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials in Wiltshire, has his sights set on a sixth Barbury title. Based locally at Lockeridge, Marlborough, the current world number two will head to Barbury with eight horses to compete across the four days, from 6th to the 9th of July.
Sixteen nations are represented and over 1000 horse and rider combinations will compete, featuring some of the best in the world. The stage is set for this world class sporting and equestrian spectacle with a packed programme, which includes:
• Leg 3 of the 2017 Event Rider Masters series
• One international CIC*** competition
• Three international CIC** competitions
• British Eventing, Arena Eventing, Burghley Young Event Horse classes and the Retraining of Racehorses Championship
• Other equestrian events include the Hunt Scurry, Pony Club showjumping and the JCB Champions Challenge
• Thomas Carlile (FRA), who is making the trip across the channel to Barbury with his grey stallion Upsilon. This combination has an impressive ERM record winning Leg 6 in 2016 as well as delivering podium finishes at leg 4 in 2016 and at the first 2017 leg earlier this year.
With the ERM cross country concluding the horse trials on Sunday afternoon and unfolding in reverse order, the scene will be set for a nail biting display of Eventing action right until the very last horse and rider set out on the iconic Barbury course.
Commenting ahead of Barbury, Andrew Nicholson said:
“Nereo is ready for Barbury. We have been cantering him and other Barbury-bound horses on the estate’s all-weather gallop. This will be his first run since his Badminton win, he is in good form and our aim is to secure a sixth Barbury title and the ERM leg. The riders are really targeting the ERM series now as the prize money is such a great incentive, which could make my job of defending the ERM and Barbury crown even tougher!
“The ERM series is fantastic for Eventing as it’s important for the future of the sport to reach wider audiences via the TV coverage. Furthermore, with Barbury being organised by ERM this year and with some new interesting spectator initiatives planned along with a world class field, I expect everyone will enjoy a great showcase of Eventing action. I look forward to seeing everyone at #Barbury2017!”
Zara Tindall’s beloved horse, Toytown, has died at the age of 24 it has been announced.
Toytown, who was owned and ridden by Mrs Tindall, was a 17 hands tall chestnut gelding who won many prestigious equestrian awards during his long career.
Paying tribute to Toytown, Mike Tindall said: “Sad to say goodbye to the big man today, been a massive part of our lives giving us so many highs! RIP Toytown.”
Born in 1992, the horse was first spotted at the age of seven by Zara’s father, Mark Phillips. A few months later after watching him jump, she bought the horse marking the start of a relationship lasting for almost two decades.
In that time, the duo won individual gold and team silver at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Germany.
He also achieved many other medals and awards in the world of showjumping until his retirement in 2011.
Most recently, Toytown came out of retirement briefly for the 2012 Olympic Games where he carried the Olympic torch with Zara on board for the relay across the country... READ MORE