This week Bill Carne met up with Amy Tucker to chat with a young lady from Neyland who has, with her pony Troy, qualified for the forthcoming ‘Horse of the Year’ show at the NEC, Birmingham and later for the world-famous Hickstead event. . .

AT17 years of age, Amy Tucker has already qualified this year for both the Royal Horse of the Year Show at Hickstead and also for the Horse of the Year Show in the NEC Birmingham as proof of the fact that she and her pony Troy, all 14.2 hands of him, are now at the top end of the equine scale.

They started out together in show jumping and have since progressed to working hunter classes where they have to jump a round of rustic fences, go around a figure of eight course to show the horse’s manners in a sort of dressage-type way and then walk the horse in front of a judge to show its confirmation to the best.

Amy’s story is one of showing commitment from the outset after acquiring Troy, whose posh name is ‘Raindance Rebel’ just to compete for fun in local show jumping classes when she was 13 years old. Amy has achieved her successes without too much help but now receives individual coaching once a month from a top coach.

Her love of horses owes much to her late uncle Charlie, who took her to Heron’s Brook and paid the princely sum of £1 for a pony ride for his niece, who was totally hooked from that moment. Then Amy joined parents Stephen and Trudy and sister Alice on a visit to Centre Parks and she had several chances there to ride again.

Amy would say that her mum and dad have been hugely supportive as she went to Bowling’s Riding Centre from the age of five and has been involved ever since. She regularly nagged Trudy for a pony of her own and mum said they would consider it if she could show a commitment to the less glamorous side of horse riding, like grooming, mucking out and everyday exercise.

So Amy set out every weekend and even in the evenings at the riding school when the light was good and assumed a friendship with an old, experienced pony called ‘Carlos’ who is now 21 and still going strong in helping young riders gain confidence and develop skills. Amy also learned to jump fences and Trudy eventually agreed that Amy should have her own pony.

They travelled as far afield as Cardigan, Aberystwyth, North Wales and Bridgend after seeing horses for sale and checking them out - but eventually found Troy on their Neyland doorstep as he was with a family in the Freystrop area. Troy was six then, just coming into his prime and they were soon starting to win some show jumping competitions.

Amy was advised to join British Show Jumping and she became affiliated so that she could compete against a range of opponents, including professionals. Her first success came at Kilbarth, near the Corner Piece on the Fishguard Road where she was the only competitor to go clear.

“I was last to go after everyone else had knocked at least one fence down,” Amy told us, “and eased my way to a clear round – and I can remember how thrilled I was on the day!”

Since then the Amy/Troy duo has gone from strength to strength and they were part of the Pembrokeshire Hunt team which took part in the Pony Club novice championships at Kelsall Hill in Cheshire. They were looked after by Kay Sinclair-Jones and later by Diane Thomas and it was a great experience, especially since the following season saw her qualify for the individual event.

A measure of how high the standard in which Amy is competing can be gauged by the fact that she qualified for a similar event at Chalmondley Castle she had two clear rounds but still didn’t get placed against much bigger horses.

Amy also competed in the ‘Dengie Pony Club Winter League’ in which she had previously ridden ‘Carlos’ but with Troy she won both qualifiers at Moor Farm and so qualified for the Open Grand Prix Final at Morton & Morrell College in Warwickshire, where there were much bigger fences and Troy did well to finish sixth first time and was winner of the warm-up class this year.

Such good performances earned Amy selection for the Pony Club Selection Pathway, the only Welsh rider out of 30 chosen to attend a course at Pencoed, Bridgend – and then for a national competition at Stamford Park in Cheshire. They were given advice by top coaches like Philippa McKeiver-Curry during this time, including video feed-back and one-to-one tuition.

More success followed as Amy won both classes of the 2012 Llandyfaelog Show held at Ffos Las Racecourse to pouch the Junior Show Jumper Cup, followed by the reserve championship in 2013 despite only competing for half the season because she was moved up to the senior class as the youngest rider with the smallest horse.

Amy acquired another bigger horse in Fi (show name ‘Exquisite M’) that was 16 hands but it had physical issues and Amy received good advice from Marie Turpin (Stepaside). Amy now has had Fi put to foal with ‘Pik Polo’ and hopes that one day her bigger horse will be able to return to show jumping alongside her third horse, a mare called ‘Charlie’ whose show name is ‘Polo’s Classic Collection’, which was also bred by Marie.

Charlie is six and already getting double clears to confirm her promise but at one time disliked warming up in the company of other horses, which made things difficult. But with patience she has improved and in the British Academy Area 36 championships at the Beacons Equestrian Centre behaved impeccably, to everyone’s surprise.

In 2013 Amy decided on a whim to enter the Royal Welsh Show working hunter class and was delighted with second place, followed by the winning of the Working Hunters’ Class held at Moor Farm under the auspices of the British Show Pony Society.

This year was even better as she came second in the 15-hand working hunters class at Royal Windsor to qualify for Hickstead, with a brilliant tenth place in the international class, against all the top riders.

Amy was also placed second at the Royal Welsh Show and then won the 15-hand class at the National Pony Society event in Malvern, winning the top marks for style and performance, to qualify her for the ‘Horse of the Year’ show in Birmingham on 10th October.

But as well as all the glamour it is worth recording the fact that Amy has to be up at 6am most mornings to trek down to Moor Form and perform her cleaning duties, followed by a similar stint during the evenings. She also does all her own grooming and plaiting before shows, as well as the hours of training that are necessary for success at this level.

“My parents are great supporters,” said Amy ,”because mum drives me to Moor Farm so early and dad drives the horse box all over the country.

“I really enjoy what I do and I am lucky to have so much family support.”

She omits to mention her own commitment, enthusiasm and genuine equine skills but we are happy to do that by saying, ‘Well done Amy Tucker – and long may you continue to carry the Pembrokeshire sporting flag with so much distinction!’