A Shropshire student has her eyes firmly set on a showjumping career after taking first place in a national schools championship.
Harriet Otter, 16, a Year 11 student at Ellesmere College, raced to her biggest win to date when she and her 14-year-old mare Annie jumped clear to win the Just For Schools 1.10m Individual Final held at Bolesworth Castle in Cheshire.
The teenager, who lives about 10 minutes from the College, is a member of the Ellesmere College Equestrian team and other notable achievements include an appearance with Annie at Hickstead, the Mecca of showjumping, last year.
Harriet said: “It was amazing to win at Bolesworth – a great experience. I always go in the ring with the state of mind that we are going to win but there were so many good riders there from across the country, we were competing against 17 other horses and riders on the day.
“All the nerves and excitement built up. I jumped early in the class, I think I was third in the ring, and then had to wait and watch everyone else hoping we had done enough. I was so happy with the way Annie performed.
“I’m really building up vital experience and would like showjumping to be my career. I have some amazing friends in the business, work with some brilliant trainers, and this is the biggest event we’ve won – so fingers crossed for the future. This win is a massive one for me.
“We won the event on Tuesday and returned on Friday and Sunday to take part in other non-school national events. Annie competed on a bigger course and she jumped really well again. I also rode my new gelding, Galip, and we had a great week with some good placings.”
Harriet has been riding since she was about four, progressing through pony classes to horses and acquired Annie from her brother about three years ago. She has two more horses and started riding more competitively when she was given Annie.
“My brother started first and then I really got into it,” Harriet added. “It’s a great experience, particularly jumping at the nationals. We competed quite a lot last year but for the first couple of months this year we were unable to attend events because of the pandemic, so were training really hard.
“We have been going out a lot more recently and although we are riding with no spectators, a lot more events have started to kick in since the national championships. It’s all systems go now!
“The equestrian team at the College has some brilliant riders, we are very close-knit and work so well together. The parents work together as a close team and it was a shame that I was the only one able to make the nationals.
“We try to work as much as a team as we can and be there for each other. The college supports us massively and my parents are very supportive also. Mum is really involved in it, dad is brilliant as well, my brother trains me and we have excellent coaching available near to us. We have a brilliant set-up.
“I rode for the school three or four times last year and was thrilled when Annie and I qualified for Hickstead. Riding at Hickstead was an amazing experience and to ride there with all that history was an achievement I won’t forget.
“We qualified again this year but, unfortunately, due to the pandemic it was cancelled. British showjumping remains our main focus and I’m hoping there are many more big results to come in future!”