A Housing Association officer based in Widnes, Cheshire, has received an out-of-the-blue phone call that offered the chance of a lifetime — and she almost ignored it.
Holly Rowbottom, 27, had thought her chance of competing at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) had gone when she finished just out of the promotion spots at the SEIB Search for a Star (SFAS) qualifier at Osbaldeston in April.
But following the discovery of an irregularity concerning one of the original finalists, Holly has been told she is through to HOYS after all with her nine-year-old riding horse Bazaars Highwayman (Monty).
“I was putting Monty in the field when I got the call — at first I nearly didn’t answer because I thought it might be a PPI sales call,” confessed Holly. “I got the shock of my life when SEIB offered me the chance to go to HOYS.”
Holly has owned the handsome gelding for almost two years. “My keen show jumper had to be retired to a quieter broodmare life and I tried a dozen horses in an attempt to replace her,” she added. “No horse even came close — then a couple of months on, my friend Ally Cooper suggested a young bay gelding by Bazaars Chief, a stallion renowned for his trainable, sane youngstock.
“We travelled to Stafford one night after work, battling the M6, to meet Monty. He was sweet, safe and sane and after I had tried him – and got no further than 500 yards down the road – I turned round and made his owners an offer.”
Monty was bought with an eventing career in mind — he and Holly have recently progressed to British Eventing BE90 level — and competed in British Showjumping (BS) and Team Quest dressage competitions.
“I decided to enter SFAS after watching Ally at last year’s final, where the atmosphere and opportunities for amateurs inspired me,” she continued. “I only entered two showing shows prior to SFAS, so I am overwhelmed that we have qualified.
“He’s just so loving – all horses have their good and bad days but no matter what, Monty always likes a fuss and after I’ve had a long day in work, he is always pleased to see me.”
“It was very unfortunate that the original person had to be disqualified, but the rules are very important to us,” said SEIB marketing manager Nicolina MacKenzie. “We will always do our best to ensure that only eligible competitors go to Horse of the Year Show – the phone call to Holly was one I was very pleased to make!”
Featured image: Holly Rowbottom, photo by SMR Photos