Clare Prentice

      Bill and Shannondale Titan (Alfie) in Normandy

 

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I was obsessed by horses from as soon as I could speak, which was strange as I came from a totally un-horsey family.  My parents finally relented and gave me a riding lesson for my seventh birthday and, since getting my first pony at the age of ten, I have had horses ever since.

 

I always wanted to be a top international eventer and I did ride at Advanced level and CCI**, but was never going to be as good as I wanted to be. This, coupled with the fact that I was studying law and felt that I should perhaps concentrate a little in my final year, meant that I rode less and less and in the end decided to hang up my boots and watch my horses being ridden from the sidelines, firstly by Gemma Hall and then by Bill Levett, who has been riding my horses since 2007. I say ‘my horses’, the horse are all owned by myself and my parents Mike and Anne Prentice, who are and always have been hugely supportive of this crazy horse obsession.

 

This season, we have three horses competing; Shannondale Titan (Alfie), who went to Badminton and the Worlds last year and then, right at the opposite end of the spectrum Midsummer Focus (Dylan), who will be making his long awaited competition debut shortly. He is home bred out of our mare Market Focus, the first horse that Bill competed for us. She sadly broke down at Bramham in 2008. She was a brilliant jumper and an awesome XC horse. We can only hope that some of her jumping talent will have rubbed off on Dylan, but we are very much wait and see……

 

Our third horse is dear Ballymore Rich Cat (Ricky) who evented up to Advanced level and was placed at CIC*** competitions, but always picked up little niggling injuries just before a CCI*** run. He’s the most amazing trier and we decided that life would be much better for him if he still enjoyed his eventing, but at a lower level and so Jenny (Bill’s wife and very much the unsung hero of the Levett yard) has the pleasure of riding Ricky. It is lovely when a horse has found his niche, and Ricky certainly has – enjoying the lower key lifestyle, but still going out and doing leading dressage scores and jumping double clears albeit at a lower level and then returning to the lorry and consuming his own body weight in mints.

 

I am also involved on the eventing scene in a different role. Back in 2004, I volunteered at one of my local events, Aston Le Walls and was helping out in the control box of the event, provisional scoring. I was asked if I would like to try commentating and jumped at the chance. I have always loved public speaking (some would say I love the sound of my own voice!) and have been commentating and controlling ever since. I now commentate at 35 or so affiliated events per season, plus some extra unaffiliated competitions. I hope to be able to give you some insight into the ups and downs of event horse ownership in the UK as well as what goes on behind the scenes when the microphone is switched on – and perhaps more intriguingly when it is off!

 

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