Riding school horse qualifies for Badminton grassroots 2023: ‘I’m so proud’

The owner of a riding school horse who qualified for the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships in 2023 expressed her pride in both horse and rider.

Owl House Reminisce and Pippa Marsh have just learned that their performance at the Firle Place Area Festival last May earned them a spot at Badminton the following spring.

Owner Rachel Wright, of Owl House Stables near Dover in Kent, told H&H she bred “Wizz” for herself – and he got his name as he was born on the day she had her wisdom teeth out.

“I delivered the foal then off I went to have the teeth out, so called him that!” she said.

Rachel said the Future Role gelding, who is out of Rachel’s eventing mare Little Fidge, is a genuine riding school horse, who “probably doesn’t have too many complete beginners” but does lessons every week.

“He’s literally a donkey!” she said. “He’s really quiet and has always been completely laid back about everything. Even as a yearling and a two-year-old, he spent most of his time asleep in the field.

“He was bred with myself in mind and when he was four, we backed him, but then I had a baby so I let Pippa have the ride. She got on so well with him, I didn’t have the heart to take back the ride, so I ended up buying another horse for myself.”

Rachel added that Pippa, who is now 21, started riding at Owl House Stables when she was six, and since she was eight had been coming every day after school to help in the yard.

“She’s so dedicated and has done a really good job with him,” she said. “They’ve grown up together.”

Rachel said Pippa went to Firle hoping to qualify, but did not know on the day whether or not she had done enough, as the final places are decided once all the Area Festivals have finished.

“She’s now bought her own horse and Wizz has a younger rider on him again so we were hoping for a last exciting thing as a final hurrah,” Rachel said. “Then she logged in this morning and found she’d qualified.

“I was absolutely thrilled for them, and so proud.”

And Rachel said the combination successfully fly the flag for riding schools.

“Riding schools are the lifeblood of our industry and they can get a bit of a bad rap; people say they wouldn’t sell a horse to a riding school, but they’re where people come if they’ve had a fall or lost their confidence,” she said. “I always try to promote them and show how versatile the horses are. I’m so proud, and over the moon.”