I recently caught up with Sallie Ryle, Sallie is a first time owner and owns Mulrys Error who is giving Ben Hodbay a ride around Badminton this year. I asked Sallie to enlighten us in the life of a 4* horse owner.
Sallie has been nervous the entire time the pair have been on the waitlist, then when out competing at Belton they received the amazing news they were off the waitlist and on their way to Badminton! All the pair have to do now is stay in one piece and with Ben riding in 5 Novices the weekend before Badminton it’s safe to say Sallie is keeping everything crossed!
The reality hasn’t quite hit Sallie yet, and she said it won’t seem real until they are there and have been accepted in the trot up! Sallie tells me she never had any intentions of being an owner and never really understood why people would have a horse for someone else to ride.
Sallie initially bought Mulry as a Pony Club/Riding Club all-rounder for both her and her daughter to enjoy. Sallie believes Mulry was sold in Ireland at Ballinasloe Fair by a Mark Mulry for as little as €1600. Mulry’s mother was acquired as a payment for shearing sheep and his father was a Thoroughbred called Eve’s Error. The mare was covered with Eve’s Error who was 20 and Mulry was her first foal. He was sold as an unbroken 3 year old and made his way to Richard Howard which is where Sallie found him. It was love at first sight…..at least for Sallie’s daughter, but when Sallie started to jump and event Mulry something just clicked, she ended up having to get another horse after she took the ride from her daughter Vanessa! Vanessa did a lot of the early work with Mulry and although Sallie’s name appears as his owner, it’s really a joint ownership for Sallie and Vanessa.
Sallie had been having regular lessons with Ben over the winter and after a few wines Ben had persuaded her to enter Tattersalls. As the event grew nearer and nearer it was a clear choice for Ben to take him instead…..great choice as Ben got placed in the 1*! It was a totally unique experience for Sallie and she was just as nervous but it was clear they made a great team! They rode so well together and the Intermediates they ran out they were never out of the top 5! Mulry was already 9 when Ben started riding him, he had already hunted, attended Pony Club camp and evented with Sallie so he was a confident horse with which Ben was happy with. Mulry wanted to jump bigger and bigger and they flew up the grades together quickly. Sallie was hooked as an owner and at Burghley Mulry managed a double clear!
Mulry is a very big horse, and could easily be mistaken as a police horse! When Mulry first started his eventing career he sadly received some rude comments from others, but I think it’s safe to say he is certainly proving his place on the circuit! Mulry is the underdog and at Burghley he held his own and ate the course for breakfast, he finished in 29th. Mulry is always challenged in the dressage phase as he has a short movement, this tends to shorten with tension.
Owning a horse is very expensive and Sallie has had to return to work, only part time and as a freelancer so she still gets time to herself, but Sallie is so hooked on being an owner she needed to continue to feed her habit! When aiming your sights high the costs also get higher. Ben has an amazing team around him from his mum and dad to his grooms, they make being an owner so much fun. Whatever the result may be there is always a party, they make you feel well and truly part of the team. When at events we tend to meet up with other owners, we all like to show our support and have a few drinks to either celebrate or commiserate….it’s still a great place to be!
Sallie never would have dreamt of her PC/RC horse going to Badminton, she says it’s more than a dream. She hopes he makes a good account of himself and would love to see him in the top half. Ben will need to try and keep a lid on his tension in the dressage, he tends to go well and clear XC but does sometimes struggle to make the time and due to his large feet he can sometimes brush a pole. But Sallie just wants to see him hold his own and prove that he has earned his place at Badminton. Ben is ambitious for them both and Sallie very much respects his opinion.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of a lot of our readers when I wish Ben, Mulry and Sallie the absolute best of luck at Badminton and I will be cheering them on!