Monday, 5 September 2016

IWMT2016: Meet our winner, Rachel Harris, the galloping vet!

Rachel receives the Ian White Memorial Trophy
Last year, Rachel Harris and her horse, Manor Mayhem (known as Wii to his friends), came within a whisker of victory as runners up in the Ian White Memorial Trophy (IWMT) at Smiths Lawn Horse Trials, Windsor. This year they reigned supreme with a double clear landing them the top spot and 5 penalties clear of the rest of the field. Here we find out a little more about Rachel and Wii.

Surrey-based Rachel fits her riding career around that of a small animal vet - no small challenge so every little bit of help is appreciated. 'I have a fairly flexible rota for 3 days of the week when I can ride and also at the weekends,' she explains. Being based at a livery yard where Wii is cared for while Rachel is out at work is also a huge support. 'I'm lucky to keep Wii at the amazing October Farm, which is a great set up owned by Barry and Karen Carter and run by [international eventer] Nici Wilson. They look after Wii so I can just concentrate on riding. They have great knowledge if I need advice too. Everyone at the farm is really helpful and it has a fantastic atmosphere. It's also very inspiring to watch them produce their jumpers and young horses which makes me keep wanting to get better.'

As with most eventers, the cross country phase is Rachel's favourite but she enjoys competing as a whole. 'I love having something to aim for and work towards.' And the biggest challenge? 'Plaiting Wii, as he fidgets backwards and forwards despite being cross-tied!'
Rachel and Wii on their way to victory at Smiths Lawn

So, how did Manor Mayhem and Rachel get together? 'I saw him advertised on Horse Quest - I think
it must have been fate because I told my mum that I was going to buy him before we'd even phoned up or seen him!' They travelled up to Yorkshire where he was based with his breeder, Janet Drake. 'We flew up from Heathrow to Leeds and bought him that same day.' This was in March 2015 so they are a relatively new partnership, but it's clear that Rachel adores him. 'He is a great horse, very easy and friendly. He's quite big being 17hh and half Shire.' He's cheeky too. 'He likes to put stuff in his mouth, especially my gloves!'

Last year the pair qualified for the BE90 Grassroots championship at Badminton, and Rachel would love to qualify again but at the BE100 level. 'I would like to then move up to novice and qualify to do a CCI*. Ultimately, I'd like to do a CCI* abroad - somewhere sunny.' 

Rosettes and trophy take pride of place at home!
The IWMT section is aimed at working owner/riders like Rachel, who juggle everyday life with their passion for eventing. Rachel shares her advice on how she manages to successfully event around everything else. 'I think being based somewhere with experienced and like-minded people, who all want each other to do well, has really helped me.' Good training is also key. 'Get the best training you can from someone who is positive - I've gone to [recently crowned Burghley winner] Chris Burton since having Wii and he's made me so much more confident and given me things to practise at home.' And what about keeping the motivation, especially during the bleak winter months? 'I found having a break from competing and taking it easy from the end of the season 'til after Christmas last year made me really keen to get out again this year, as I really don't like the winter weather!' 

Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd Medical and Copy Writing Services. She is a published medical, copy and equestrian writer with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.