A 17-year-old rider from Ireland is heading to Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) for the first time with her horse, Darcy De Chanteloube, who she bought as a project during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Jessica (Jess) Murphy and her own bay gelding landed their first ticket to HOYS in the intermediate working hunter class at Royal Cheshire in June.
Prior to joining Jess, Darcy De Chanteloube — who is known as Darcy at home — had never jumped a fence. Due to restrictions, he was bought unseen from a video.
“We loved him on the videos and photos, and while he was very correct, he was a bit of a brat when he arrived; he has taken a lot of determination and patience,” said Jess, who noted that Darcy was partial to “napping and rodeo broncking” at the beginning.
“When travel restrictions were lifted we were able to take him on different outings, such as to training clinics and on hacks in the beach or woods. When we’d made enough progress we decided to take him to a show and do a flat class. I had no expectations and just needed mileage, but three steps into his individual show he completely downed tools!”
In 2021, after a winter of training leagues and a careful introduction to jumping, Darcy began his working hunter career as a novice.
“Staying balanced was his biggest challenge,” said Jess. “We kept persevering and everything started to come together. In June, we decided to take him over to the UK for our annual trip to contest some shows. He got better and better – we even had a go at the HOYS qualifier at the BSPS summer championships; he only had two poles down.”
Darcy and Jess returned home and put the work in ahead of the 2022 season.
“We put in a lot of time earlier this year to prepare for the qualifiers,” said Jess. “We only have one HOYS qualifier in Ireland, held at the Northern Ireland Festival. Unfortunately, we had a stumble during our round and rolled a pole, but still finished fourth.
“Once again we headed back to the UK during the summer. Our first show was Royal Cheshire County in June. The course is always one of the most challenging and this year was no different. The intermediates were first to jump in the morning and Darcy and I were first to go. We jumped one of three clear rounds.
“I hadn’t expected to qualify as it was our first show of the trip. When our number was called forward I was in tears. I never imagined we’d actually get to HOYS, and to top it off we stood reserve champions.
“Since qualifying, we went to the Irish Pony Society championship show where we won two classes, and the BSPS summer championships, where he won the inter-county intermediates and was fourth in the Desert Orchid final.
“I’ve no expectations for HOYS as it will be both of our debuts. I’m just so glad to have our golden ticket and I’m sure we’ll both enjoy our trip.”
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