More than 100 riders saddled up to show their skills at a military and blue light services competition.
The Royal Tournament Show Jumping and Skill at Arms Championships, at the Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR) deep in the Leicestershire countryside, is a chance for horse riders of all abilities, from novice to experienced, to compete in individual and team events.
All three armed forces, police, fire, and ambulance services competed on personal or military horses and jumped obstacles ranging from 70cm up to 1.2m.
Among the competitors was Bombardier Christie Fallen, a saddler from The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery (KTRHA) who rode off as a champion in the Intermediate category.
Christie can usually be found repairing and maintaining the saddles, harnesses, and horses’ bridles at the KTRHA based in Woolwich.
She took a break from her job to enter the show jumping competition on her horse, Rosemount Hill, and rode off with the title of Intermediate Champion.
Christie who started horse riding at the age of three said: “I was over the moon to win. I’m really proud of Rosemount Hill and how he performed.”
These horses are true multi-takers. Their versatility and adaptability were in full display during the competition and highlighted how the horses can adapt to different environments and are capable of excelling in both the rigours of competition and the grandeur of State Ceremonial Parades." Corporal of Horse
Christie joined KTRHA with the ambition of becoming a saddler. She said: “Before joining the Army I studied A-level art and wanted to be able to combine equestrian skills with craft. I worked as a rider on an event yard, which gave me insight into the vast array of saddles and bridles available on the market.”
“I am currently working towards completing the bridle and saddle fitting exams through the Society of Master Saddlers.”
Christie will be back in the saddle in December when she represents the Army at the London International Horse Show.
The title of Junior Champion went to Major David Johnston RAMC and horse Kibo. David used to ride occasionally as a child but had not ridden a horse as an adult until posting to DATR in summer 2022, not jumping until June 2023. Kibo who is nearing retirement is permanently based at the Equine Riding School at the DATR.
David said: “I started having riding lessons on Kibo about two months prior to the competition. Although he may be nearing retirement and a stalwart of the stables his enthusiasm doesn’t waver.”
David had not jumped on grass until the event itself and had only completed sequences of four jumps at any one time.
He continued: “My training had to fit around the day job and the courses running at the DATR, so I was only able to practise riding and jumping in the indoor arena. It was nerve-wracking going from indoor riding to a ten-jump course outside on grass."
“There was a lot of training which I had to compress into a matter of weeks. It was a fantastic opportunity not to be missed and I am grateful for the training and support the Equine Squadron staff at the DATR provided.”
“The competition was great fun and a great learning experience. I’d never ridden in a competition before so that was slightly nerve wracking. It has reignited the riding bug for me, and I hope to enter again next year to defend my title.”
Also celebrating success was Corporal of Horse Andrew Mancey who was awarded the title of Senior Champion.
Andrew who has been riding for more than 14 years and helped organise the event said: “The competition showcased not only the exceptional riders across all the services, but also the remarkable military working horses."
“These horses are true multi-takers. Their versatility and adaptability were in full display during the competition and highlighted how the horses can adapt to different environments and are capable of excelling in both the rigours of competition and the grandeur of State Ceremonial Parades."
“It was an excellent event for everybody to come together. We have a close-knit community; throughout the week the expert riders were sharing their experiences with the novice riders.”
Tent Pegging, which involves riders picking up small tent pegs with a lance whilst galloping and a Skill-at-Arms competition was also demonstrated by the competitors. This involved riders showing their skill using a sword, a lance, and a revolver.
The riders had to thrust a sword into a dummy, jump a fence whilst shooting balloons with a revolver and finish the course by using a sword to pick up pegs and rings.