UNTIL a few weeks ago the Hartley family were looking forward to a packed schedule of competition with their horses and ponies.
Teenager Jackie and her dad, Steve, are well-known competitors on the local scene, while mum, Kath, prefers hacking in the beautiful forests and countryside around their home near Newcastleton. She is also invaluable as head groom at shows.
No quarter is given or expected between father and daughter where red rosettes are concerned but they also give one another great support.
“Going into the 2018/2019 Arena Eventing series at Greenlands, I was the reigning champion,” Steve says.
“Jackie pushed me really hard during that season and I retained the title and she finished third. It was very satisfying to see her up her game so much.
“During 2019 we both qualified for the Eland Lodge national hunter trials championship which was a whole new level for us.
Despite the dreadful weather, the event was amazing and so professional. Much to our surprise I took fourth place.
“Jackie and her school team-mates took the 2018/2019 Cumbria Horse Trials Eventer Derby team challenge and she was the junior champion for the same series.
In 2019/2020 we both qualified for the inaugural Arena Eventing championship which was to be held at Dalston Green and Jackie qualified for the Pony Club winter league championship at UK Arena, a first for her.”
The Hartleys have four horses and ponies. Kath rides nine-year-old 14.1hh Connemara x mare, Doogie, and Jackie’s horse, Tilly, is a seven-year-old 15.1hh Irish Sports Horse mare.
Steve says his eight-year-old 16.2hh Clydesdale x mare Drumany is his project horse and very much a work in progress.
However, his main man is Chris, a 10-year-old 16.2hh Hackney x Cob gelding who has partnered Steve around many an arena eventing course.
Sadly, competition plans for the season have been scuppered by COVID-19 but, although the shows can’t go on, the work can’t stop.
Steve said: “On a normal week day I muck out the horses, feed and water them before taking Jackie to school and spending the rest of the morning lungeing and hacking out all four. “Our land won’t stand horses at this time of year so they are turned out into the yard for the afternoon.
“After collecting Jackie from school, we bring in her horse, tack up and go into the school for some schooling, of both horse and rider. One night a week we would expect to be out showjumping.” Instead, they’re doing their best to keep the equine gang ticking over.
“We hope we get through the COVID-19 crisis with enough of the season left so the qualifiers for end-of-year championships can be held.
“This year is about salvaging what we can. We’ll all just be happy to have the freedom to ride out and compete at whatever events are put on. I think 2021 will be our main focus.”