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68-year-old rider takes first championship within the present ring

  • It’s never too late to follow your dreams, as one 68-year-old rider has proved.

    Jayne Sanderson recently became a double winner at the Equine Sports UK grassroots championships, held at Arena UK, aboard her husband’s home-bred driving pony Ragamuffin (Buddy), who is also a newcomer to the ridden show scene.

    Lincolnshire-based Jayne and Buddy took top honours in the overall cob championship as well as the walk and trot class, providing her with the chance to ride down the centre line under the spotlight.

    “Mum’s aspiration was to get into the evening performance, and to win was very unexpected,” said Jayne’s daughter, Emilie Sanderson.

    Buddy is a 10-year-old traditional gelding, who has been shown successfully in-hand. Jayne — a self-confessed “happy hacker” — has been riding her whole life, but only decided to turn competitive a few years ago.

    “She’s nearing 70, but spends more hours in the saddle than some people a quarter of her age,” said Emilie. “No one tries harder than her and she always enters the ring with a smile on her face.”

    Jayne began showing aged 60 after having riding lessons for the first time in her life.

    “I’m flying the flag for the oldies,” said Jayne, who admitted she’d thought the results had been wrong when she was called out as the winner. “My breaks failed on the lap of honour; the crowd went mad and Buddy loved it. I was waving as I left the ring; I was doing a Michael Whittaker!

    “My lessons with Stephen Pool helped me massively with my confidence,” she added. “I have also started going to the gym to keep fit. I hope I’ve proved that you can do it if you don’t give up. Don’t let people talk you out of it either. You’re never too old.”

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