Three generations of the same family are to compete at the British Riding Clubs national eventing championships, as grandmother, mother and son all qualified on the same day.
Louis Stokes won the individual 90cm junior class at the area 12 qualifier held at Pontispool Equestrian Centre on 4 June, on RMS Mont Blanc. Mum Becki Stokes, on Riffeylands Romeo, was on the winning team in the 100cm class and grandmother Denise West, on Emo, was on the team that won the 80cm class.
Becki told H&H this is the first time all three of them have qualified for the championships, although she and Denise have both competed there before.
“It’s an amazing event. We’re just trying to work out the logistics of how we’re all going to get there!” she said.
“My sister [Hannah Payne] rides too so we all go off competing together; Mum usually does the 80cm, my sister and Lewis are on younger horses and do the 90cm and I do the 100 or 100+ so we’re often there from 8am until 7pm, but we all support each other and do all our training together.”
Becki said her mother, who is now 74, started riding when she met Becki’s father, who no longer rides or carriage drives, in which he also competed, but “still helps look after the horses and offers advice!”
Becki and Hannah grew up riding, as did Louis, who is now 16.
She said Louis has had eight-year-old Irish sport horse “Monty” for just over two years, and that the Covid lockdowns were the ideal opportunity for Louis to adjust to his first horse, having come off ponies.
She bought her own horse unseen, from Ireland, as a five-year-old.
“I’d been made redundant and thought I’d buy a project with my redundancy money and sell him on,” she said. “Six years later, he’s still here! He’s absolutely brilliant; we love him to bits.”
Romeo has also been competed by Louis, and Becki’s elder son William, and her mother’s ride Emo was also originally her horse.
“I bought Emo for something to ride out with the children and Mum had a pony that kept stopping, and she was falling off,” she said. “I said ‘Ride Emo and get your confidence back’, and he’s never returned! Louis has qualified him in arena eventing, and William for the showjumping championships, Mum’s done the BE80(T) regional finals; she says he’s her horse of a lifetime and she wouldn’t do it without him.”
Becki added that she had not intended to take part last week but when she and ? were coordinating the teams, they realised they needed another combination in the 100cm class.
“She said ‘You’re doing it’!” Becki said. “We weren’t expecting all to qualify, I didn’t expect to as I hadn’t done any dressage training since August, but my boy jumped double clear, Mum had a very successful day and Louis had a 29 dressage, then just one down showjumping. That’s the first time he’d done a sub-30 dressage, which was his aim, and we’re very proud.”
Once the logistics are worked out, the family will be on site at the NAF Five Star National Horse Trials Championships from 5-7 August, representing Quantock Riding Club.
“A friend’s coming with a camper van, and the prosecco, of course!” she said. “It’s an amazing achievement that we’re all going together.”
The only non-horsey member of the family is proud father Paul Stokes — who asked Becki to speak to H&H rather than himself, saying: “That’s probably best as they’ll ask me horsey questions”!
“Most of the time it’s ‘Bloody horses’ and I think he sometimes wonders where he is in the pecking order, but he’s really proud of what we do,” Becki said.
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