Sarah’s Horse of the Year Show dream comes true
- Credit: SMR PHOTOS
At the age of 45 Sarah Field is about to realise her childhood dream of competing at the world's most famous horse show. Sheena Grant reports.
Amateur rider Sarah Field will this week take part in the world's most famous horse show after qualifying through a competition designed to give everyday riders a chance to make their dreams come true.
Sarah and her horse, Deards Gold N Silver, will compete in the SEIB Search for Star Show Cob event on the opening day of the prestigious Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
The 45-year-old, who lives near Ipswich, is one of a number of riders from across East Anglia taking part in the five-day show, which begins on Wednesday (October 3) at Birmingham's NEC.
They will rub shoulders with some of the world's top horsemen and women, including international showjumpers taking on the towering wall in the annual Puissance and a host of other classes.
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Sarah, who works as a sales and marketing manager in the medical industry, won her place at the HOYS when she triumphed in the cob class at the SEIB Search for a Star qualifier in Somerset in May.
SEIB Insurance Brokers set up the Search for a Star series more than 20 years ago to give amateur riders and their horses the chance to compete at the HOYS. The series has led to many competitors achieving this dream.
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It was a case of second time lucky for Sarah when she and Deards Gold N Silver qualified at the Somerset show. Earlier in the season they had travelled to Osbaldeston in Lancashire for another Search for a Star qualifier.
'The judges at Osbaldeston gave me some great advice, which we followed,' said Sarah. 'I was almost in shock when we won the Somerset qualifier.
'When I was young I had a dream that I would one day compete at HOYS and I had assumed that it would never happen but now I am 45 and it has finally become a reality. It has been a huge learning curve.'
Sarah had only owned seven-year-old 'Humphrey' for a few months when they won their place at HOYS and the Somerset qualifier was only his third ever show.
'I work full-time as a sales and marketing manager in the medical industry. The SEIB competition provides such an amazing opportunity for people like me with full-time jobs that also dream of having a go at HOYS,' she said.
Sarah, who travels to Birmingham tomorrow (Tuesday Oct 2), will have to demonstrate walk, trot and canter on both reins before the class judge gets into the saddle. Horses are also marked on their conformation as well as turnout.
Her achievement in reaching the competition is all the more remarkable as Sarah at one point gave up riding for a year when she lost her confidence after a fall from another horse.
'I am excited as well as nervous,' she said. 'Nothing is ever as plain-sailing with horses but whatever happens at the HOYS I plan to carry on competing.'
The Horse of the Year Show has now been running consecutively for 70 years and hosts 60,000 visitors and 1,500 competitors across the five days, taking part in an array of equestrian entertainment as well as national showing and showjumping championships.
Other attractions in 2018 include pony club mounted games, scurry racing, a dressage masterclass with Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Musical Ride and a breath-taking equestrian vaulting display.
Other East Anglia-based competitors at this year's HOYS include, from Norfolk: Paul Atkinson, Francoise Babington, Bryan Banham, Oliver Hood, Alice Young, Lizzie Gray, Eleanor Hirst, Sofia Scott, Allister Hood, Teresa Nicholls, Rosie Ringer, Henrietta Spencer, Georgina Wilkes, Charlotte Wright; and from Suffolk: Nikki Barker, Ross Keys, Lara Boman, Dakota Keys, Ross Keys, Katie White, Ben Hester, Tim Davies, Angharad Ellis Owen, Fiona Farquharson, Simon Charlesworth, Lucinda Haines, Charlotte Tuck, Lilly Judge, Agnes Kerr, Cate Kerr, Amelia Lee, Mia Biggs, Jo Rose, Lucy Cameron, Amelia Bevan, Vicky Smith, Liana Stanford, Isabella Stanley, Amber Thorpe.