Helen Dutton our sponsored rider has had such success with her 14 hand welshie Bobby over the last few years! He continues to go from strength to strength, but its the back story to this unlikely dressage superstar that always makes me smile!!
So I’ll hand over to Helen to tell us how she ended up with Bobby and how she has achieved the unbelievable
“Bobby’s story starts 10 years ago when he first came to our yard as a 2 year old. He was on DIY livery having been bought from a local dealer who had bought him through Beeston sales.
His owner was unfortunately unable to pay his bill and it was agreed that Bobby would be payment for that amount. I had recently moved from ponies to horses and wasn’t overly keen on the idea of him but went along with it. He needed time to grow and mature so he was turned away for a year or so.
When it was time to back him we realised it was going to be tricky. He was wild to handle, untouchable with brushes, rugs and petrified of everything. I clearly remember telling my mum that ‘as soon as I’m in that saddle this pony’s going to kill me’ slowly but surely we began to win his trust but it took nearly 6 months to be able to get on him.
To ride he was very ordinary, but well behaved and honest. He had a small walk, a rather wooden trot, no medium trot whatsoever and a flat out canter with no real clear rhythm, he almost trotted behind. A notorious local judge referred to him as ‘your pony that can’t canter’ and was quite sure he never would. But under all this he had a lovely trainable mind and was a brilliant hack.
He competed at prelim level gaining low to mid 60% scores and did a prelim regional coming second to last with 58% having done nothing wrong but that’s just what he got. After this he was put up for sale, a few people came but decided he wasn’t for them.
I carried on with his training and from here everything started to change, he began to get stronger and more balanced. His became more powerful and his scores improved. We went to regionals one year later again at prelim and he won!! From that day there was no stopping him, that result gave me confidence and belief that judges could take him seriously.
He moved through novice and elementary, after winning the novice national championships Trailblazers finals.
Each time he started at a new level his scores would dip a little for a while until he was more confident. Soon he was winning most times out, still becoming stronger and more established but still only schooled about once a week and hacked and jumped the rest of the time. That’s just what worked for him. Medium became his most successful level, he loves the challenge but it does require him to be schooled 2-3 times a week so he has the fitness and strength but he’s more that happy.
If he ever struggles to learn a new movement I tend to teach him it when we are out hacking. He did his first flying changes on the beach.
He has won 4 regional championships, 2 reserve regional championships, 2 area festivals and qualified for the Nationals or Area festival finals a total of 13 times from prelim through to advanced medium. Culminating in his 3rd place at the Nationals this year at medium level which was beyond anything I could have hoped for.
I hope to carry on training him through to PSG level, the most amazing thing about him is he never stops trying and is still getting better with every training session, there’s nothing he isn’t willing to try. His attitude has allowed training to make his basic paces into big horse-like paces and movements that were totally unnatural to him are now second nature.
Some things will never change, he is still awful to clip, will knock you into next week if he’s scared and at shows he’s known as the high maintenance child. No one wants to hold him because he’s so rude and boisterous. If he was 17hh it wouldn’t be funny but he’s just such a lovely person and tries so hard for me in the arena that he can get away with it.
I’m very proud of our relationship, he has taught me what you can achieve with patience, trust and partnership. And that any horse at all can be successful with training. He has made so many dreams come true and I will be forever grateful to him for that. He’s my horse of a lifetime and I adore him.”