Cornwall riders mix with cream of the sport
ONE of the coolest things about this year's British Showjumping Awards Ball was the chance to rub shoulders with our golden Olympians and for Chloe Nile, Lauren Perham, Gwendra Pearce and Kathy Berryman it was a night they will cherish.
These four Cornish riders were guests of honour at the star-studded gathering held at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham, taking centre stage at an award ceremony as the Equestrian Life South West League winners.
Helston-based Gwendra, a double winner of the 70cm and 80cm Club Leagues, said: "It was a fantastic night. Everywhere you looked there were Olympic riders past and present; owners of top horses, European and World medallists and our GB manager Rob Hoekstra and his team.
"It was a phenomenal gathering and we were made to feel part of it."
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A champagne reception set the scene for this glitzy evening with Club League winners from all over the country mingling among a sea of famous faces.
Teenagers Lauren and Chloe couldn't resist the opportunity to collect autographs from their idols.
"Lauren is in awe of some of these riders and to meet them was a marvellous experience for her," said her father Dennis of Redruth. "The girls received a wonderful response from everyone and it added to the big occasion."
Twelve year-old Chloe of St Austell, topped the 70cm pony league with her 13 year-old Connemara gelding Mizen.
"I joined the Club membership in November 2011, on the advice of Zoe Gwennap at Colraine Equestrian Centre," explained Chloe who started riding when she was four years-old and was joined at the ball by her parents Lee and Melanie.
"We accumulated points by winning classes and clocking up double clears. Mizen can be a bit cheeky sometimes but our partnership has blossomed and we've enjoyed a brilliant year competing in our first one day event and hunter trial with good results."
Fourteen-year-old Lauren landed the pony 80cms and 90cms Club League awards with her 148cms mare Dotty Delilah who she has competed for the past 12-months.
The pair also had the added distinction of winning the Club League 90cms final and also secured second place in the 80cms equivalent at the end of season Club championships held at Wick, near Bristol. "I really enjoyed the evening and people have told me that they saw me on Sky TV," said Lauren, who is a member of the Four Burrow Pony Club.
"It was a great to share the experience with my parents (Dennis and Karen) and to meet up with everyone. It was also exciting to stand so close to one of the fences from the Olympics and it towered above Chloe and I."
Kathy Berryman clinched the Horse 90cms league with her 15hh, 13-year-old Connemara x thoroughbred mare Kerry Gold II.
"Kerry was bought for my niece but proved too strong for her so I took her on as a five-year-old," said Kathy.
"I did a few endurance rides with her and then joined Threewaters Riding Club. We started competing in dressage and jumping and it was obvious that she loved jumping.
"We began going to Colraine Equestrian Centre and signed up for the BS Club membership last year. It's a brilliant initiative and being invited to the ball to accept our awards was the icing on the cake. It was a fabulous night out for both myself and my husband."
Gwendra agreed: "The whole experience was fantastic from start to finish," she said. "My friend Sara (Thomas) made the trip up from Cornwall with me and we danced the night away to the Chip Shop Boys.
"The atmosphere was second to none and so full of glitz and glamour. It was a truly wonderful experience."
Gwendra won the Horse 70cms and 80cms Club Leagues on her 15.2hh ten-year-old coloured mare Carnview Stella.
"When the Club membership came out I was thrilled," said Gwendra. "Without doubt I would never have registered without it. It's a fantastic system for riders in my situation.
"You get to jump over the same courses and at the same venues as the national members and have your results recorded on the internet. I want to go out and enjoy the sport without feeling I have to push myself.
"Don't misunderstand me – I'm competitive and want to do well but what the club gives me is an even chance to ride against people like myself who are purely doing it for pleasure or slowly producing young horses."
The Cornish Ploughing Championships takes place on Saturday November 3 at Trewidden Farm, Tremethick Cross, Penzance TR20 8TT.
A magnificent entry of ten horse ploughing teams is sure to impress spectators who will also enjoy local refreshments and having a browse around the stalls.
Directional signs will be in place leaving the Penzance bypass at the St Just turn-off. Gate entry £3 adults with charity raffle for the Riding For the Disabled in Cornwall.
Diary dates page 110.