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Caitlin is crowned Western Riding Champion

23 October 2020  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

Congratulations to Caitlin Holcroft, in Year 8, who has been crowned the Western Equestrian Society’s national youth online champion. Before the summer holidays, Caitlin was in pole position following outstanding performances in her first two shows. She has maintained an exceptional standard through the third and fourth shows and, in doing so, achieved the ‘high points’ trophy for the whole series.

Caitlin has competed in Showmanship (in-hand class), Horsemanship (ridden) and Trail (ridden obstacle course) and has excelled at all three disciplines. Receiving the patterns to be ridden for each class in advance, Caitlin and the other competitors had some time to practise ahead of being videoed completing the pattern under show rules of which were then emailed to the judge.

Caitlin said: “What I enjoy the most is how variable western is because there are many skills that you have to learn. I would like to do more shows in the future because I like to challenge myself when I am riding my horse.“

We have put together a Q&A with Caitlin so you can find out more about her passion for western riding.

How long have you been riding?

I have been riding for approximately four years and originally had lessons learning English style riding.  I am now trained by a Western instructor, Emma Chapman Training, in Bedale.

Do you have your own pony – if yes, what’s his/her name, size, breed?

I have my own pony called Hope. She is a Welsh Section C, 13.2hh, Palomino.

Does the rest of your family have a keen interest in horses/riding?

My mum has ridden since she was 11, albeit with a number of years break while she moved around with my Dad who was in the forces. My Dad recently learnt to ride t after visiting a ranch in America with BLESMA (the Limbless veterans charity).

What prompted your interest in western riding?

My interest came from my Mum who had always wanted to try western riding. When she bought her horse, she decided to train her in Western and learn it herself.  I then had lessons on Mum’s horse and really liked it.

Are you in a western riding club?

I am a member of The Western Equestrian Society (WES)

What are the main differences between standard and western riding?

The main differences between English and Western riding are the tack (saddle, bridle etc) and the activities. Western originated for the cowboys to have a horse that can do a job on the ranch, round cattle, do obstacles etc.  It is a more relaxed way of riding while being quite technical.  In the UK, western riding is adapted to replicate some of the activities that would be done on a ranch, as we don’t have working ranches here, and this is reflected in some of the western show classes.

Have you ever had the opportunity to go to America to ride western, what did you enjoy most, how long did you stay?

As a family, we went to Arizona in February half term, 2019.  We stayed at The Arizona Cowboy College, which is a working ranch that runs week-long courses training people on the ways of a working ranch.  The Cowboy College has been featured on a number of reality TV shows. I most enjoyed the full day ride we did out into the desert and mountains just outside Scottsdale, among the giant Saguaro Cacti, and riding the different horses.

How did you find out about the competitions?

I found out about the competitions from the Western Equestrian Society as they had decided to run some online events for the younger members to help them get experience at showing. It then became something for them to have fun doing over lockdown.

Is it a national competition?

It is a national competition for young people aged 2 to 18.

How was your riding judged?

There were two classes per show in a series of four shows. The disciplines include: Showmanship (in hand class), Horsemanship (ridden) and Trail (ridden obstacle course).  Patterns to be ridden for each class were sent out in advance so the competitors could practise. I was videoed completing the pattern under show rules and the videos were emailed to the judge.

Is there a specific style?

It is not a specific type of western as there are different classes, each of which are different styles and judged on different aspects and technicalities.

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