Professional show jumper Kathy Willard gains immense satisfaction from bringing on young show jumping horses, as well as teaching all levels of riders from her base at Henfield in West Sussex.
Kathy Willard and her home-bred Summer Thunder in the main ring at Hickstead in September
She has competed in the sport since she was a youngster, going through the ranks of ponies to senior level, where she achieved notable successes with her own horse, Concordedor, and also Riaan, owned by her mother, at major Hickstead shows, as well as Arena Uk, Scope and Towerlands.
She also brought on Calvalac with great success, jumping her at Hickstead where the duo qualified for the Young Rider finals in the International Arena, finishing in third place in a hotly contested event. Calvalac was later sold to international show jumping rider Tracy Priest.
Kathy has made a name for herself with her ability to spot a good showjumping horse, and as well as Calvalac, she has achieved notable successes with her own Valencia C, Alonso N, Tiandra and Ludger II. Selecting promising youngsters is her speciality and she generally imports them Europe, taking them through the qualifying stages of competition before either selling them, like Calvalac, or keeping them for herself.
Kathy Willard with Alonso. Photo by Luke R Gee, specialist equestrian photographer: Contact 07834467987
She is now thinking of selling Alonso, a 16.1hh grey eight-year-old by Caretino. He has been jumping 1.20/1.30 achieving multiple double clears, but Kathy feels it is time for someone to take him further, leaving her more time to concentrate on her main interests of bringing on her young horses and teaching young riders. Alonso qualified for the main ring in the Grade C final at the South of England Show this year, just missing out in the jump-off.
Kathy is currently bringing on two quality British-bred youngsters, Hettie(Renkum Valetta) and Alfie(Thuderbreak), and is looking forward to seeing them progress in the 2014 season as four-year-olds. She has good cause to be exciting about their prospects. Her home-bred , four-year-old Summer Thunder, qualified for the main ring in the Four Year Old Championship at Hickstead’s September meeting this year. She is impeccably bred, by El-Thuder, out of Kathy’s own brood mare, Valencia C, who is a HeartbreakerxDarco mare.
“Hettie is not broken yet but has been jumping loose but I will be breaking her, ready to jump in January. Alfie is a full brother to Summer Thunder and also will be ready for January. El Thuder is proving to be an outstanding stallion for three of his offspring were in the four-year-old championships at the All England Championships at Hickstead in September.
Summer Thunder did really well at the meeting to be one of 30 out of 90 to go through to the main ring, jumping well and showing a great attitude,” said Kathy.
Kathy will be aiming Hettie and Alfie for the four-year-old class at the same Hickstead championships next year, and Summer Thunder will compete in the five-year-old championships.
“This September Hickstead show is a great event because it enables young horses to have a chance to go in the main ring, and gain experience of one of the top three grass rings in the world. It is invaluable for young horses and that show will be the main aim for my trio of British breds next year. In the interim I am thinking of taking them to Millstreet in Cork, Ireland, which features loose show jumping for young horses and Discovery for four-year-olds. It would give them valuable experience without pressure,” she said.
Apart from bringing on her horses, Kathy is busy putting plenty back into the sport. She is a member of the British Showjumping Members’ Council and is highly respected for her teaching ability with young riders, in sessions both at Royal Leisure Centre, near Henfield, as well as at her base at Brookside Stables, Henfield, locals schools and pony clubs.
Her stables are well established as a livery and training yard, where pupils find her teaching methods particularly easy to understand, and her approach is very down to earth.
She has vacancies for all types of liveries and horses of all levels. She still has Riaan there, who is now 20, and who in his time won £7,000 in prizemoney, jumped up to 140’s and qualified for both the Horse of the Year Show and the British Open. He has a home of for life at Brookside Stables.
Kathy can be contacted on 077738-553-775 .