Hi, I’m Flo Carter and I’m super excited to introduce myself as the winner of the Horsequest 2020 Eventing Bursary. Here’s a brief introduction to me: I’m 18 years old and from Buckinghamshire. I’m currently on a Gap Year to focus on my 3 horses and see where 2020 will take us... I’m hoping it can continue in the manner that 2019 did, being such a great year for me as a rider. Not only did I make the big step up to BE Novice, but I was also longlisted for the Frickley Park National Under 18 Championships and qualified for the Pony Club Championships in Eventing.
In September, I’m going to study History at Loughborough University, and I spent the whole month of November 2019 travelling around Europe and visiting key landmarks in World War II and post-War history. Between keeping 3 horses Event fit and enjoying my love of modern history I also work behind the bar and on reception at a local hotel. All of that keeps me nice and busy! Throw in a bit of vlogging when I’m out and about competing and it’s almost a full time job! But enough about me, far more importantly, here’s an introduction to my 3 special horses, who have all played a vital role in getting me to where I am today...
This is the main man Auburn Dun, affectionately known as Atticus or Atty. He’s a 16hh, 13 year old Irish Sports Horse who we’ve owned for just over 2 years. His striking colour means that he gets attention wherever he goes, which suits him nicely! He has a very pony-like brain, which is why he is so good cross country, he thinks fast and has the ability to get out of trouble. Most of my greatest achievements in 2019 are a credit to him.
We bought him in late 2017 with the hopes to be consistent at BE100. He had proved this by Summer 2018, by qualifying for the Intermediate Pony Club Eventing Championships, but in the lorry on the way up to our final gallops session before the Championships themselves, he managed to stand on himself and slice his foot open, requiring multiple stitches - dashing our Pony Club Championships dreams and putting him out of work for a couple of months. We worked hard to get him back to fitness and early-2019 was very successful for us. Ignoring my impending A-Levels, I was determined to keep Eventing! He came out to his first event back at Swalcliffe and finished 4th, and went on to be longlisted for the U18 Championships. One of the highlights of the year was completing our first BE Novice with a clear cross country - just 3 days before my first A-Level exam! The British weather certainly played havoc with our late 2019 plans, with both the Pony Club Championships and our first International 2* class at South of England being abandoned. But if anything, that has just made us more determined for 2020. This year we’d love to actually get to the Pony Club Eventing Championships, this time at Open Level, after 2 years of qualifying but being unable to attend! We’re also aiming for the Young Rider 2* at Bishops Burton in July. We’re hoping to improve our showjumping consistency over the course of the 2020 season, something that the bursary will really help us to achieve, with more regular showjumping lessons and training sessions to help us get used to showjumping at 115 level, a big step up for both of us!
This is Abel Star, or Star - the newest member of the team. He’s a 9 year old, 16.2 Irish Sports Horse (as you can probably tell, we love an Irish horse!). He came over directly from Ireland in October 2019. He’s predominantly a showjumper and although I’ve had a blast jumping double clears in every showjumping class we’ve competed in so far, we are super excited to crack on Eventing with him - that’s where my passion really lies! He’s such a bold and scopey jumper, but his dressage is really what we’ve been working on... he’s far more interested in jumping and going fast than looking pretty between some white boards! That’s definitely been a big area of focus for us over the winter, and will continue to be in 2020, with the bursary really helping us maximise this boys dressage potential - because it’s definitely there. He’s got all the moves when he wants to do it, and we’ve had lots of lovely comments from dressage judges about his potential! We’re starting him at BE90 this season, but are hoping to move up to BE100 and BE Novice relatively quickly if all goes well. We’d love to pick up some top 10 placings this season, and qualify for the Pony Club Open Eventing Championships too.
The final member of the team is Towie - and yes she really is named after the TV show! She’s a 14.2 13 year old Connemara who we have owned for over 5 years! She’s the pony who got me into Eventing in the first place, taking me around my first ever One Day Event and then all the way up to BE100. Some of my biggest achievements as a rider are thanks to her, like finishing Team 2nd at the Pony Club Championships in 2016 and Individual 4th in 2018. She really is a part of the family, and she’s the easiest pony to handle in all aspects, my mum has ridden her and so has my brother, which is why she’s stuck with us for so long. She had some time off in 2019 with some tendon damage, but is now fit and on good form, picking up 3rd place at her first competition of the year, some Arena Eventing. Our aims for 2020 with her is to get out at BE90 and hopefully get some top 10 placings, before she will sadly be up for sale on HorseQuest. It will be super hard seeing her go, but I don’t think I can quite justify keeping her and both boys whilst at University and we would love to see her teach another young rider the ropes of Eventing just like she did for me.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of me and my team of horses, and you can see just why I’m so excited for the 2020 season ahead! On reflection, to be taking a horsey gap year was simply a pipe dream 5 years ago... as my mum said that once I had learnt to ride, I was allowed a pony, here I am a few years down the line with 3 horses and some serious goals for 2020. I hope that over the coming months you can watch us work towards and eventually achieve them.
Finally, I have been given some Quickfire questions to answer by HorseQuest... So if you feel like you don’t know me yet, maybe this will give you a better insight into who I am...!
What was the last song you listened to? Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles
Favourite Pizza Topping? Just stick to a classic Margherita - no need to complicate it!
Coffee or Tea? Definitely Tea! (Extra points for Peppermint Tea)
Favourite holiday destination? Well I may be biased, but I’m currently sat writing this blog in Dubai - it’s 28 degrees here, whilst it’s about 6 or 7 degrees at home, so on that basis I’m going to have to say Dubai! Or perhaps Washington in the USA....
Starter or Dessert? Dessert - every time!
Favourite film? Four Weddings and a Funeral
Least favourite food? Prawns...
Big Dogs or Small Dogs? Small Dogs, they’re so much cuter and easier to handle!
Most interesting fact about you.... I was an extra in the film A World’s End!
Spring or Autumn? Spring! That’s when the Eventing season starts!
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post, and hopefully, if the weather improves, I’ll be able to write my next blog in a months time on how the first few events of the season have gone... fingers crossed!