IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Flora Young

Flora Young, is a 23 year old Advanced event rider and Show jumper based Lincolnshire.  With big plans for 2018, we caught up with her to see how her season is progressing. 

Flora has ridden since a young age, and it soon became clear that her future career would be working with horses. 

 As she recalls; “I was five when I started riding, at a tiny riding school in Hampshire. I can still remember my first ever time on a pony…although I can’t remember much about the pony. I was taken out for a hack on an antique pony, and just thought this is the best thing EVER!

 My first ever pony was a little grey welsh pony called Noj that we had on loan, safe as houses, but not one to take 4 feet off the ground. My first proper pony was Barnie, he became a legend. I would regularly fall off him. He was as long as a barge and I don’t think in the entire time we had him he ever went on the bit, but he was an amazing jumping and hunting pony. I was once unceremoniously hung, by my jacket, on a jump wing, but once I learnt how to ride him he was super fun. 

 I never actually wanted to do anything other than ride, up until I was eleven I was convinced I was going to be a jockey. I was definitely going to be the first girl to win the National. Then I thought riding round Burghley and Badminton looked like great fun. This was around the time I got a pony called Kimba Savi. When we first got her aged six she had only gone in straight lines out hunting, but she could really jump and she took me round all the FEI pony trials. I did my first Novice with her aged 12.” 

Now with a string of seven horses, Flora says County Bumpkin has been one of the most influential horses, commenting “more because of his lack of ability rather than his ability. We broke him in and he was a very nappy five-year-old, but a seasons hunting with the Belvoir sorted him out. He eventually got to advanced level, and honestly, even then I would think over a 50cm cross pole he was at his limit in terms of scope. He jumped by brail, and you had to have him perfect to a fence in order for him to get over it!! But he showed me what a horse can do if it’s got heart, I think he would have jumped off the white cliffs of Dover for me. I’ve had a lot of much more talented horses who just didn’t want to do the eventing job, so I do think so much of it is about heart.” 

 Flora recently made the move to a new yard at North Lodge. It’s a big step for any rider but one Flora is taking in her stride. 

 At home we only have some stables and some very wet fields, so schooling occurred on the airfield at the top of the village, which did mean the horses had sort of seen everything by the time they got to an event, but it also meant dodging the odd glider which wasn’t ideal!! Moving to North Lodge was a big step as I knew I had to make it pay, but the Bealby’s (my landlords – Chris Bealby has was one of the youngest to go around Badminton before moving onto training racehorses, and Antonia taught me in the pony club and is the most fantastic veterinary equine physiotherapist), have been unbelievable in helping me and supporting me, I’m not sure there’re many people who would put up with me like they do! At North Lodge I now have indoor and outdoor arenas, 3 sets of gallops, hill/grass/circular, mobile cross-country fences and 1,000 of off road hacking. A normal day on the yard starts with feeding all the horses before starting mucking out. I aim to be on the first horse by 9, then it’s riding all day for me until 4pm when evening stables start. I’ve got a super amazing team who keep me in line, Annette & Suzie, they’ll keep busy on the yard whilst I’m riding, pulling manes, washing, lunging and hacking some out etc. We’ll aim to finish and feed at 5pm.”

 Her move makes training easier too. “I train mostly Malcom & Judy Pyrah, what they don’t know isn’t worth knowing. For the dressage side of things I go to Tracey Woodhead, who regularly goes to a yard about 15 minutes down the road which is very handy.” 

 With so many top class horses currently competing, there is one who stands out for Flora who she would most like to have on her yard.

 “I really enjoy watching Upsilon, he’s a real jumper, you wouldn’t be worried on the third day of a three day about leaving the poles up. He was dead impressive winning at Barbury last year (in the Event Rider Masters, and he’s still so young, I think he is very exciting.” 

 But it is a show jumper Flora most looks up to. Explaining she says: “Michael Whitaker, although he’s not an eventer, he’s still at the top of his game, and he’s produced so many top horses…there aren’t many people who have produced one top level horse, let alone however many he has. Plus, he’s beautiful to watch, doesn’t look like he’s doing anything, and makes it look easy. Eventing wise, Mark Todd is so balanced, and he has jumped at top level showjumping too. Pippa Funnel I find really inspiring, she seems to have a great partnership with all her horses, she also show jumps to a high level…so there must be something in that!

 And her plans for the season ahead with her top horse, Doctors Orders, also known as Dolly? “She’s just done her first 2* at Belton. She actually went from novice at the beginning of the season to 2*, all in a month! So she’s the stable star, I have a plan to get her to 3* at the end of the year with Blenheim being the end goal, but it’s a hell of an ask to get qualified in time. So we will see how she goes, but right now I think she’ll get there. The goal for her in the next two years is 4*, and I have a plan on how to get there too! Other than her, I have some hopefully really smart babies coming up, including five year old Billy Maple owned by Antonia Bealby and my Marketing Consultant Susannah Joy and four year old Hordern Pandora – Durga owned by Equine Decision Science with awesome breeding Sire Parco, 4th Olympics 2004 and Dam Sire Papillon who competed in the Barcelona Olympics.”

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