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Variety Is The Spice of Life For Alfie

Ballydoolagh Alfie, owned by Huddersfield-based endurance rider, Jeni Gilbert, is proof that variety is the spice of life for this 11-year-old Connemara.

Alfie is making his mark in the sport of endurance with Jeni, a former Novice Champion, Endurance GB Senior and Supreme Champion (2007, 2011) and winner of several other titles. He has now completed more than 2300km in 48 competitions in his five year endurance career – an impressive feat for a native breed in a discipline that is dominated with Arab horses.


Photo: West End Photography

Photo: West End Photography

Jeni believes that competing in endurance gives an important advantage over other horse sports. As well as improving the fitness of your horse and regularly assessing his soundness, endurance also helps to develop a horse’s confidence and manners, and gives him great experience in learning to balance and cope with different types of terrain.

Over the past few winters Jeni has expanded on Alfie’s experiences by competing him in Winter Trec, which takes place indoors and so is very different to endurance. It provides obstacles and questions for horse and rider and, although the instant obedience to change of pace proved to be a bit of a challenge for Alfie at first, Jeni is working on improving it! The pair were placed 11th in the National Trec Winter Series last season.

Alfie has also enjoyed turning his hooves to show jumping and cross country classes at riding club level and this summer Jeni looked at other sports as the ground was so hard. He tried eventing, although Jeni handed over the reins for this to Emma Martin, a friend who enjoys jumping. He competed in three BE80 classes and a couple of British Riding Club Area qualifiers, and in the latest one he was placed second with the Ackworth & District RC team out of 75 entrants.

Said Jeni: “He loved the eventing and did fairly well in the dressage, but we were so pleased when he finished on his dressage score with a placing. We do need to work a bit more on his movements as they are slightly different to Trec and endurance. I would say to other riders to make sure your horse is fit and then go ahead and try some other disciplines and see what you and your horse can do!”

Jeni is sponsored by HorseHage and has a wealth of experience. She enjoys endurance riding as a hobby rather than a career.

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