Meet a Treccie - Hilary Barnard
Long ago, in the days when our children were still at school, putting down the BHS magazine he had been reading, my husband, Jonathan announced I ought to have a go at “that”, pointing at an article about TREC.
So, ever up for a challenge, I bought a rule book and entered a local competition. Paying little attention to the speeds on the POR I had a lovely ride; Eleanor’s rather round 13.2hh pony, Poppy, coped with the PTV and MA – and we were off! At the end of that season there appeared a lovely invitation to a TREC Awards dinner as I had been placed second in the L2 League (there was a rather lovely prize of a bridle for the L4 winner, which was much admired).
Having been brought up close to the centre of Bristol it had long been a dream to have a horse of my own at home and it was only after all 4 children were at school that my dream came true! On leaving school I worked with horses for a few years,my parents warned me it would be hard making a living. They were right but I gave it a go. My jobs varied and included working for specialist equine veterinary surgeons, teaching working pupils and students at the Royal Dick Vet School and working with international 3 day eventers, which included grooming at the Olympics for the Irish team.
All my ponies have been by chance finds. Poppy came to me from a neighbour and gave level 2 her best. My farrier suggested I try a pony belonging to another of his clients, who was looking for a loan home. Thus Harvey entered our lives; not an easy pony by nature – but very capable – it took a while to get to know each other. On a bad day he can canter backwards while bucking, but on a good day – well, he has been L4 Champion twice, helped me to 3 (consecutive) European Cup wins and has won the L4 League a number of times. We have competed up to Elementary level dressage and been on the winning Area Riding Club Novice SJ team. At his second L2 event he became Welsh Champion, so we teamed up with Sheila Roberts for a season and moved up to L3 ( in those days L3 was only for pairs). Following a win at the British with Sheila, we moved up to L4.
Meanwhile, my daughter Eleanor was gaining an interest in TREC and asked about taking part, so we needed a second pony. I found a lovely (very cheap) New Forest mare, Rhinefield Impulse (Lily), who came with a warning label – she was very strong! Eleanor and I had a couple of successful seasons in L2 pairs finishing on maximum league points, while consecutively I took part in L4 competitions. Also, the indoor winter series was starting, and Lily was the first winner of the trophy. As a registered New Forest we were entitled to take part in the New Forest point to point, for which there is no set course. Well, I couldn’t resist! So one Boxing Day to the New Forest we went. After the pony was measured we were then hacked to the “start” and at the appropriate time told where the finish was and off we went. Not having any knowledge of that area of the Forest I had to tag along; people were falling everywhere, becoming bogged and taking different routes. We were second; absolutely manic, but such huge fun! With Lily I also took part a couple of times in the Mendip Farmers Hunt race – over stone walls – this was a bit hairy too but we were placed each time. Sadly I lost Lily to laminitis one winter, but Mary Weston came to my rescue the following season by lending me her mare Lulu, so Eleanor and I were both able to compete the following season.
My most recent equine addition is Roughtor (aka Theo) who came to me courtesy of a fellow L4 competitor. To say he was an unsettled, nervous wreck, when he arrived is an understatement; it has taken time but he is developing into a lovely pony – I’m not sure TREC will ever be his forte, but he is producing some pretty good dressage results!
TREC has taken me to several different European countries and along the way I have ridden horses of all shapes and size, at times across terrain and hills which don’t look possible - not always in daylight - met all sorts of people and ridden in some lovely places!
It has been a huge privilege to have represented Great Britain at the official FITE Championships, even if not always on the horse of my choice, though sadly with no great success to date.