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Success stories Stuff of Dreams - Ingleby Hill & Shelley Heywood

6th November 2019

My name is Shelley Heywood and I’m now 48 years old! I started riding aged eight (in those days insurance at riding schools didn’t start until then) having been obsessed with horses since I could speak – to this day we have no clue where this obsession came from as none of my family are horsey. I begged and borrowed rides as a child and always fantasised about riding down the centre line at HOYS and riding in the main ring at Great Yorkshire Show. I bought my first horse aged seventeen and quickly realised I’d totally over horsed myself and she really knocked my confidence so she was sold again and then I concentrated on my career as a Civil Servant with HMRC as a Tax Inspector.

In 2007, I moved back to my home town of Bradford after years of moving around for my job and met some horsey people in my local pub. It was then the old love of horses re-appeared – I loaned a welsh cob for six months and decided to get my own. It took me a while to find what I was looking for – I didn’t want “a former racehorse or anything under the age of six” – I of course ended up with a four year old former racehorse called Ingleby Hill or “Foaly” as he had been nicknamed by the yard staff where he was kept at the time because he still looked like a foal – he had been purchased for use in a riding school but the owner had decided he was too good so sold him to me. The main attraction was his very kind nature, the fact that he was bombproof on the road and that I couldn’t get him into canter in the school – he was basically a plod! I just wanted a happy hacker to get back into riding and to give me some confidence.

So on 5thNovember 2008 I became the proud owner of a former racehorse called Ingleby Hill who had raced 16 times and won £900! He cost 40,000 guineas as a yearling, so high hope was had for him but just not meant to be. I started his retraining from that moment on – he was kind and genuine and always so easy on the ground but I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t really know what I was doing back then.

I was talked in to doing a local riding club horse show the following summer where I entered ridden horse – no placing for us that day but I was hooked!!

The next few years I did bits of showing and dressage with very little success – I think my highest place rosette was second place (out of two!)– This did not put me off as I enjoyed it so much but we were never going to be world-beaters!

In 2011, I moved house and went to live in Worksop where I discovered a whole new world of much higher level showing – I wasn’t in anyway ready for this kind of thing but I had something to aim for so continued to work really hard to improve my results. My first ever big show was Great Yorkshire in 2012 where I admit I shed a tear as I rode into the ring I had looked at so longingly as a child. We weren’t placed but did get some great feedback from the judge who told me to ditch the yellow browband and tie and get something red! That was a turning point!

In 2013 I won my first ever red rosette in a ridden class at my local riding centre and to be honest was over the moon – this was the pinnacle of my career so far and I always remember it fondly.

In 2014 I had my eyes set on bigger and better things and my first show of the year was Ponies UK winter classic where I picked up a 3rdplace in my first novice class and then a 2nd in the open class qualifying for Hickstead on my first attempt. A few weeks later I was entered at Osbaldeston for the SEIB Search for a Star Riding horse/hack class and also the RoR class.

This was a day I will never forget as long as I live! First of all I was up for the Search for a Star class, to my absolute shock I was pulled top in the first section after the go round and chosen to come back for final judging where I was given first place and therefore qualified for The Horse of The Year show (HOYS). I was in a dream! However I had to pull myself together for the SRIB class where again I was pulled very high after the go round and to my utter amazement I was placed 2nd which again meant I qualified for HOYS. The rest of the day/week/year passed in a blur!

I didn’t do much more that year to keep him fresh and so it was that in October 2014 I found myself being driven through the hallowed gates at the NEC to compete on the biggest stage for showing in the GB and fulfilling a childhood dream. Getting there was enough but to top it off I was given 1stplace in the Search for a Star class and champion Hack and got to ride in the SFAS Championship and then just as amazing I got to ride in the international arena with all my showing heroes to get a creditable 8th place being the highest placed amateur – not bad for a girl from Bradford who bought a happy hacker to have fun on!

In the years following this we have tried with no success to qualify again for the SEIB class at HOYS but I still love the atmosphere and feel proud that I have a horse that can compete with the best. We have also competed in most of the county shows around the midlands and have had wins at Lincoln, Derby, Nottingham and best of all in 2015 we won the former racehorse class at The Great Yorkshire Show in front of my home crowd and lots of friends – my lovely boy made all my dreams come true and I couldn’t ask him for any more.

Whilst he has always been easy on the ground I’m the first to admit that his ridden retraining was a challenge most of which I’ve done myself but have had amazing instructors in Russell Wright and Adrian Buzzard who taught me to believe in myself. I’m not a confident rider so showing and riding in front of a lot of people is hard for me but thankfully I’ve had great support with family and friends and the RoR girls and boys who are a fab bunch.

The RoR world has gone from being a little known of organisation to the massive organisation it is now and helps former racehorses and their owners in all disciplines which is fabulous to see. The showing classes always get a wry smile from me as they are always the biggest classes these days and hotly contested and the RoR Goffs UK National Champs are one of the best events on the calendar.

We have had injuries and set backs along the way and at times have felt like giving up which thankfully I didn’t. This year has seen a new set back in that he has been diagnosed with Kissing Spine but he is been treated and his rehab has started. I am hopeful to have him back out showing again and achieve the ultimate HOYS/RoR National Champs double. But if he spends the rest of his days as a beautiful field ornament then I don’t care – thanks Ingleby Hill for the time of my life…

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