Mia Palles-Clark has recently joined part of the EWW Team as our resident Show jumping guru.
Mia’s background is like a ‘who’s who’ of show jumping… Granddaughter of Marie and Raymond Fenwick, owners of international show jumpers including Owen Gregory, Hickstead derby winner 1980 with Michael Whitaker. Mia grew up on the show jumping circuit as a small child admiring her aunt Ann Wilson (nee Fenwick) who was the British leading lady Show jumper 1978/79.Mia’s ‘first pony’ was Penwood Forge Mill, ridden by paddy McMahon. The story goes that paddy used to put Mia on the front of the saddle in the collecting ring at shows and jump the practice fence with her! Harvey Smith and David Broome were great babysitters, persuading Mia to be good with a strawberry mivvi whilst in the riders stand at Wembley or the collecting ring at Hickstead.
Alongside coaching Mia has been producing and completing quality show jumpers to the highest level and is still competing Oroness who she bought as a novice 6yo with no competition experience. Going on to achieve all manner of goals, wins and successes all the way through to grand prix, derbys and 6 bars.
Mia moved to Newmarket in 2012 and took on the mantel of British show jumping area representative for Suffolk. Mia also leads the training academies for British show jumping in Suffolk, Northants / Cambs, West Wales and supports the lead coach for the central region academy.
In September 2014 Mia took on the role of coach educator for the British Show jumping UKCC coaching Programme. This means she is part of the very small team of expert coaches that travel around the country to deliver the level 2 and 3 courses to aspiring coaches.
Coaching and riding, show jumping and show jumpers are Mia’s career, passion and life, they make her who she is; motivated, driven and inspired to educate, enlighten, empower and improve horses and riders.
The Hickstead Survivor’s Guide – a show jumper’s view
It appears that many eventers are turning ‘showjumper’ and visiting the large shows such as Windsor and Hickstead. Here Mia gives her indispensable guide to surviving Hickstead.
Mia has been attending Hickstead for the last 40 years and been competing there for 32 (and she’s only 42!) the west Sussex showground is a sacred venue and means so much. It holds many secrets and legendary tales. You need to know the nooks and crannies short cuts and best ways to make your way happily around the showground and to make your whole experience as fruitful and enjoyable as possible…
Right from the very beginning…
*Ideally arrive the afternoon before your first days jumping so you can get settled and organised.
*Swing wide when driving into the stable field entrance (a few HGV s have dropped their back left tyre into the little ditch you can hardly see on the left.. Graham Fletcher being one of them!)
*Be prepared for a queue and a bit of a wait (everyone has to stop at the security gate to get their stable numbers, check in and buy hook up if you want it, this can take time)
*You need correct cash for your hook up
*Keep the card with your stable numbers on.. you may be parked along way from them so ‘find the stables’ is the first game you’ll play on arrival, probably with your over excited horses in hand.
*Try not to park next to the roadway, this is noisy (especially at the RIHS) and you may be disturbed at night, the same goes for the stable field bar.
*Be friendly and polite to the security and stable field guys and they’ll really look after you
*If it’s the derby meeting you’ll find lovely grass in the box your horse can eat off.. if it’s the RIHS you will find someone’s (clean) bedding from the last show. Usually best to pop another bales or two of shavings on top.
*find your nearest tap.. there are plenty of them but fill your buckets and keep spares outside your box, they get busy at peak times.
*muck is at the end of the stable blocks
*A wheel barrow is a CRUCIAL bit of equipment, the distances you have to cover between box and stable can be huge.. you will need to get good at loading it and making sure you always take it back to either venue where you will need it next.
*lorry wheel blocks.. the showground is on a slope.. you will be sleeping downhill if you don’t level up your lorry!
*get the national classes start list from the secretary (outside the main ring) this will help you work out timings for your classes.
*Walk courses for the next day; if you’re in the first class at 8am walking the course the night before means you save yourself another job in the morning.
*Get your number down on the collecting ring board at the right place and right time.. with 150 plus in the national classes it’s timing that will be crucial. Approx 30 horses per hour is what you can calculate and the collecting ring stewards are HOT on getting people in the ring on time (sometimes there will be 3 horses in the ring at a time to get through them)
*Be SUPER nice to the collecting ring stewards!
*Ring 4 (the surface arena) tends to be built big (don’t be shocked if your 1m class looks like 1.10m.. but then that’s Hickstead in general)
*Ring 2 has the most natural fences that are used quite a lot and is the best of the outside rings (and generally built with tough courses)
*Ring 3 is a friendly ring right next to the food stands and with its own grandstand, great for spectators
*Ring 5 has a gallop track all the way around it which can be challenge when jumping and having to ride over it to fences, it changes your canter slightly and the course builders use this to challenge you!
*All the grass arenas have a slope or undulation in them, prepare before the show so it’s not a big surprise.
*Stud up really well.. x 8 very decent sized studs, don’t be shy!
(Showjumpers bizarrely seem to use much bigger studs than eventers, my advice; use big ones, you do not want to unbalance your horse with a slip into a fence)
*The collecting ring.. this is an experience!!
Commonly referred to at the M25.. there are 4 sets of practise fences in an enormous warm up arena. It can be chaotic and verging on dangerous. It certainly tests your nerve and skills of control as well as observation and communication. Especially at the RIHS when the matter is confused with Hunters, cobs and show ponies all trying to warm up in the same space. Treat with respect and approach with caution, keep your cool and stay alert you will be fine!
*The international arena has its own collecting ring which is only for competitors in that ring.
*Where your pass at all times, security is tight (thankfully!)
*Eateries around the showground are great including the clubhouse and Pommery bar (I can highly recommend the belly pork and the steak!) There is even a champagne and oyster bar in the main arena entrance that is worth visiting for a special lunch.
*The shopping is amazing.. but be aware in ‘Hickstead world’ you will be sure that you absolutely NEED several pairs of £250 breeches, a new beautiful French saddle at £3000, every new supplement you can lay your hands on and of course that £250,000 lorry with double pop outs and a Jacuzzi on the roof.. I’m a sucker for the horsey jewellery too.. !!
*Be prepared to have walked several miles each day, it’s a long way from one end of the showground to the other and you will probably need to do it several times a day.. pace yourself! (and no, bicycles are not allowed!)
*The showground photographers are fantastic but again be tough, be strict.. 30 photos are possibly a few too many and may hurt your credit card further.
*Ride your horses positively, forwards and confidently and be sure that if they go well here you have a very special horse. This show sorts the men from the boys and every sense of the word.
*If you are lucky enough to go home with a rosette and some prize money you really deserve congratulations as these are hard won and well earned.
*When the end of the show comes leave before the end of the big class in the main ring, or you will sit in traffic on the M23
Welcome to the best show in the world and the best few days jumping you and your horse will enjoy!