The Gypsy Cob section was very much a family and friends affair at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show today.
The delightful Gypsy Elite Pride’s Dreamcatcher, ridden by Georgia Allison from Oxford, won not only the Purebred Ridden Gypsy Cob of the Year but also In-Hand Purebred Gypsy Cob of the Year. To add to the mare’s success, her daughter, Westfield Tara, presented by Sarah Gordon (Oxford), was the In-Hand Youngstock Purebred Gypsy Cob of the Year.
A good friend of the Allison family, Kelly Chalmers from Hororata, Canterbury, won the In-Hand Youngstock Partbred title. Kelly travelled up with the Allisons for her first-ever trip to HOY, and will certainly be joining them in their celebrations tonight.
Another double title-winner was Sharney Downs Hokey Pokey, who claimed In-Hand Adult Partbred Gypsy Cob of the Year with his owner and handler Sally Halcombe, then Ridden Partbred Gypsy Cob of the Year with Caterina Poletti in the saddle.
Sally is clearly very fond of her partbred cob. “I bought him as a six-month-old weanling. He was broken in at Abderry and then has gone on to do show jumping, trekking, farm work and everything else!” Today was the first time that Sally had competed at Horse of the Year, though she says that it has always been on her bucket list. Sally was on cloud nine after her gelding’s two triumphs, and shed a few tears.
“It means so much to me. My dad passed away a couple of years ago, and Mum said to me that he would be so proud of me. My parents were not horsey, we didn’t do pony club or anything, so it is a dream to do it today.”
Sally, a teacher at Urenui School in North Taranaki, decided it was worth taking the week off work. She was full of praise for her rider and helper (“third daughter”) Caterina Poletti. “She has helped me get him from a farm hack to a showing horse!”
Caterina herself is a special young woman. Head girl at New Plymouth High, she is also into rugby and multisports (bike, running and rafting competitions which can take 18 hours to complete), and plans on tackling the tough five-day Hillary Challenge for high schools.
“I didn’t want to wear lipstick today,” she laughed, but thought that it was probably worth that sacrifice.
The Allison family and friends from Oxford, Canterbury, were going to celebrate in the off-showgrounds camp that they have set up – a “true Gypsy camp”, Bridget laughed. “We brought three horses up; Georgia is also competing in show hunter and show jumping.” They, too, had a good trip up, just getting through before a slip closed the road.
Bridget is very keen on Gypsy Cobs, especially loving their temperament and their “can-do” attitude. “They are real family horses. One week they will be swimming in the river with us and then it is on to the World Cup dressage competition, or eventing, show hunter or show jumping. The mare is especially very versatile.”
Bridget originally wanted to import a stallion from the US but, when the price tag was too high, she opted to bring out one of his daughters. She then bred Gypsy Elite Pride’s Dreamcatcher to their own stallion, John Brodie to produce Westfield Tara, who won the youngstock title.
Photos will be available for purchase on the website Pegasus Communications in due course