First published in The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine Volume I Issue IV July 2017.
Celebrating the Champions – HS Ametista
‘Tissy’ is back! HS Ametista (Platoon x Awangarda) retired from endurance in 2015 after a long career together through juniors and seniors. We bowed out at one of my favourite events, the Red Dragon Festival of Endurance. Tissy and I had an amazing run in the two-day 160km class. It went to plan, it was fun, we did our best and our best got us first place, Best Condition, Best Turned Out, Best Shod, Best Welsh Rider, and our Welsh Team won the National Championship! I could not have asked for more from my mischievous Arabian.
Tissy and I competed for Team GB five times, including the 2014 World Equestrian Games, and she gave our family the opportunity to travel all over Europe, having amazing experiences. However, my focus shifted to bringing on my younger mare, HS Pria, toward her FEI qualifications and I knew I couldn’t compete two horses at once. Last year, I retired Pria from FEI level endurance, and so Tissy and Pria moved to my parents’ farm to retire together in the Welsh hills. I planned never to compete or even ride again. Thinking about it now, it was a pretty unrealistic decision. I have ridden from the age of two, horses were in my blood, and I could never let them go.
By January 2017 I was bored; I missed being outside, I missed the bond of horse and rider, the feel of the air and scenery rushing by at a gallop. So I said to myself that I would bring Tissy back to do a few small rides, have some fun and if, after six months, I still loved endurance, I would start to look for another horse. Just six weeks later, I had Tissy and a four-year old gelding in my field in Staffordshire, and I was trawling the ride calendar.
HS Ametista. Credit Langley archives.
When I saw that Windsor had an 80km race, my heart leapt! I had always wanted to do this race on Tissy but never had the opportunity due to team commitments. I had promised I wouldn’t do more than 80km on her, so just five months after a year out, my low key ride for fun plans had gone and I found myself in the warm up for the 80km 1* race I set out to go no faster than 20kph; the chances of being vetted out are much higher after that, and most of all I planned to enjoy it for the unique experience it would be.
Tissy is 19 years old, a mere 14hh, and is never very lean, so to look at her, nobody would expect much of her. Unless, of course, you know her; then you understand that this pony loves to race! She was so excited when she arrived at the venue. She knows her job and does it extremely well but until the first loop, I had no idea whether she’d still enjoy it, if she could still fly around a course like the good old days, being one of the few that could go as fast downhill as she did up, forever keeping a constant effort. She answered all my queries with a resounding YES and we crossed the finishing line in second place.
We were able to parade in front of HM The Queen and receive our prizes as part of the Royal Windsor horse Show. It was really something special. I’ve lost count of the times Tissy has brought me so much joy and this was one of our best memories yet. Long live the little pocket rocket!
Words by Beth Langley