Home   News   Article

Community spirit from home ‘helped us accomplish our dream’, says Badminton grassroots rider Kelly Skinner


By Niall Harkiss

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
On Wednesday, with the sun shining, making for hot conditions, show jumping was next on the agenda. Picture: First Class Images / Kelly Skinner
On Wednesday, with the sun shining, making for hot conditions, show jumping was next on the agenda. Picture: First Class Images / Kelly Skinner

Tain horse rider Kelly Skinner has hailed the “fantastic community spirit” she felt from home as the catalyst for the “whirlwind” culmination of her 16-year dream of competing at the Grassroots Championships.

Along with her homebred pony Reagan (Reagan’s Pure Dynamite), the 46-year-old achieved her dream of competing at Badminton in May, after qualifying for the finals in August last year.

RELATED:

Badminton event is dream come true for Tain rider and homebred pony duo

High Life Highland confirm appointment of new personal trainer in Easter Ross

Riding for the Disabled group determined to secure new facilities despite difficult year

She felt the warmth of support from home just minutes into her journey as she set off on a two-day road trip to Gloucestershire along with her crew which consisted of her husband, daughter, sister, brother-in-law and niece.

She said: “When we left on Sunday at 7.30am, we left Tain to a lovely banner on the A9 wishing us good luck on our journey to Preston, where we would stable overnight before leaving for Badminton in the morning.”

After traveling for over seven hours, Kelly and her team stopped to hydrate Reagan before taking in an overnight stay at Preston. They then made their way to Badminton for the final leg.

She added: “The last few months have been a whirlwind with trying to keep up Reagan’s fitness, plan the logistics of the trip down South, fundraising and working fulltime. It is like a military operation ensuring farrier, physio, vet and fitness levels are all factored in.

“We were lucky enough to get a grass turnout paddock for a few hours, which Raegan was delighted about. Part of the prep work for Badminton was getting Reg used to stabling as he is out 24/7.

“I had been stabling him every other night and then three weeks before Badminton I stabled him every night to help and allow the gut to get used to less turnout time.

“This worked a treat, as he was so settled all week, with regular hourly grazing in hand to break up the intensity of being stabled for six full days.”

Competition started on Tuesday, with dressage the first undertaking for Kelly and Reagan. Drawn first out of 106 competitors, the pair faced the daunting task of “strutting their stuff” down the long 60 metre centre line before anyone else.

But despite the pressure, they pulled of a score of 34.9.

On Wednesday, with the sun shining, making for hot conditions, show jumping was next on the agenda.

Undeterred, Reagan took to the arena and jumped well, taking one pole from a big and square course.

The “emotional” experience has left Kelly with a motto for everyone chasing an achievement — “Never give up on your dreams”. Picture: First Class Images / Kelly Skinner
The “emotional” experience has left Kelly with a motto for everyone chasing an achievement — “Never give up on your dreams”. Picture: First Class Images / Kelly Skinner

With just an hour before the cross-country event, Kelly admits that nerves were now kicking in.

“I had walked the track four times since arriving,” she said. “It was surely going to sort the pack out.

“I decided to go the long route here as Reagan is quick and this worked to our advantage, as this was a fence that caused a lot of issues and certainly bumped us up the rankings.

“The course was six minutes 36 secs long with lots of galloping, and 22 fences with 30 jumping efforts and fabulous photographic opportunities of galloping and jumping in front of Badminton House.

“My trusty steed romped round clear and inside the time with plenty running left.

“Riding through those end flags knowing I was within the time and clear at Badminton was very emotional.

“Seeing my crew at the end cheering us on was the best feeling ever.

“My aim was to complete all three stages and come away with a competition rosette, but I finished 34th out of 106 in the top third of the pack.

“With Reagan now cooling off and walked back to the stables for a graze, I had done what I had dreamt of doing for some time and that was completing Badminton on my homebred and home-produced pony.”

The “emotional” experience has left Kelly with a motto for everyone chasing an achievement — “Never give up on your dreams”.

She added: “I have been overwhelmed by the encouragement, support, well wishes, donations, sponsorship, gifts, messages, and cards received.

“I have laughed and cried so much this week and honoured that so many people were part of our journey. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in the week, both at home and away.

“I will be forever grateful for this experience, something that my Granda would have been so proud of.

“A colleague placed a flower arrangement at their graveside, so they were part of our journey too.

“We returned home in the early hours of Sunday morning following an 11 and a half hour journey home, greeted by a fabulous sign welcoming us home.

“It was the icing on the cake and again showed the fantastic community spirit that helped us accomplish ‘our dream’.”


Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More