A UNIQUE West Sussex partnership which has scaled the heights in most equestrian disciplines is that of rider Kath Botting and her versatile piebald gelding Bristol Blue, affectionately known as Harvey.
Harvey is now 14 and has been with Kath since he was six-years-old, when the duo established a unique rapport starting out by qualifying for the Horse of the Year show in 2008.
” I showed him as a lightweight show cob/coloured and working cob until 2012. In those years he was third in the Search for A Star final 2008, was placed in the coloured class at the Royal International Horse Show three times, and as a working cob four times, having jumped four consecutive clear rounds, ” she recalled.
Harvey went on tostay in the limelight, becoming Winter Supreme Champion at the British Piebald and Skewbald Association, Supreme Riding Club Horse/Pony Club Pony at Equifest, Supreme Champion of Amateur Showing Association and was Supreme Champion four times at Horsham and District Riding Club. Then he went on to be Champion Working Cob at the Festival of the Horse and qualified for HOYS in 2010.
Kath has successully combined Harvey’s competitive schedule with her own career, first as a teacher, then a headmistress and now as a team leader at a West Sussex County Council Children and Family Centre. Three years ago she affiliated him to British Eventing and he was placed at BE90 every time, usually getting inside the time until injury forced them to stop.
“I decided I would not risk him eventing again, so joined British Dressage in 2013, where he won his first four preliminary tests and went on to be placed every time out as a novice. He qualified for the Pet Plan Festival Championships and how as 135 points, competing at Elementary and Medium level.
In 2013 he was part of the winning open dressage and riding test teams at the British Riding Club national Championships being placed individually in both arenas, an achievement that he repeated in 2014. “2013 finished in spectacular style when I was one one of four side saddle riders invited to perform in the Grand Finale at the London Olympia International horse Show where we performed in front of 5000 people twice a day for eight performances,” said Kath.
She added: “This year at the Side Saddle National Championships Harvey won the Open Dressage Champion title, the dressage with jumping championship title and the Novice show jumping class as well being placed in all his other classes. This has resulted in the duo winning the Black Fenn Royalist Rose Bowl for the adult gaining the most points at the show for the third time running, as well as and the Billete Mackay Rose Bowl for the owner rider gaining the most points for the second time running. This was in addition to helping me win the Intermediate Rider of the Year Award.”
Kath said:”Next year I plan to compete him as a veteran with the aim of qualifying him for both the Veteran Horse Society National Championships and the Anthony Evans Side Saddle Championships at Olympia. Then I will be able to say that he has competed at RIHS, HOYs and Olympia! ”
Recently she won the Intermediate Side Saddle Rider of the Year Award at the Side Saddle Association’s 35th Annual Championship Show riding Bristol Blue, along with the overall open dressage championship and the overall combined training championship. She is now able to use her many talents to help other riders in the county to learn the art of side-saddle riding.
Kath explained: ” I went to Pittern Hill in Warwickshire to pass my Grade 4+ exam in riding, jumping and horse care and to pass my B level instructor which means that I am currently the only qualified side saddle instructor in Sussex.”