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Cross Country Horse Riding

Tell us about yourself and your horses 

Cross Country Horse Riding
Becky and Barley at Moreton 2018
I’m Becky Wren a 38-year-old amateur eventer living in the beautiful Dorset countryside in the south west of England. When I’m not working full time in Digital Marketing for Screwfix, you’ll mainly find me exercising or competing one of my two horses Barley & Leo. Barley is a 17.1 ISH who will be 17 this season. We’ve owned Barley since a 5-year-old & was a swap with a very naughty horse, thankfully we loved Barley from the moment we met him & he’s been part of the family ever since. Leo is a 16.1 ISH who will be 7 this season. We’ve owned Leo since the end of 2017, so just over two years when he came from the sales in Ireland which was an amazing experience.  

How did your horses come into your life?

I caught the equestrian bug from my mum. She used to event competitively to Intermediate level in British Horse Trials and show in working hunter classes to county level. The year I was born, I spent most of that summer in a field whilst my mum competed. My dad doesn’t ride; however, he knows a lot about horses – he’s our driver, fence putter upper, videographer, & also one of my biggest critics! Although I’d be lost without him.  

How long have you been riding?

I remember sitting on my mum’s horse Landy when she had finished her dressage tests at a horse trials & walking back to the lorry park as a toddler. However, I think I first started to have lessons on ponies around the age of 6 with the legend that is Jinks Bryer. Most of the riders in Dorset/Somerset will have had lessons with Mrs B at some point in their life.  

When and where do you ride?

Leo going nicely during his first Horse Trial at Moreton 2019
Barley & Leo are stabled behind my parent’s bungalow in a village, which very handily is only 2 miles from my house. We’re lucky that there are lots of good bridle ways & hills to do fast work, although some do include crossing a busy main road. At the moment, I’m trying to squeeze in a few rides before work each week to keep the boys fit in preparation for their eventing season. It might only be 25 minutes but helps keep us focussed. We’re all looking forward to lighter evenings to be able to ride after work again. I’m very lucky that Screwfix are supportive of my passions, which means I get to ride without stressing too much about work.  

What are you and your horses currently working on?

We’re on countdown to the start of the British Eventing season, however the good old British weather has already played havoc & seen cancellations of my first two events – Moreton & Pontispool. Fingers crossed we’ll be out by the end of March. Now, we are doing lots of prep work including cross country and show jumping. I started getting out to low key dressage & British Show Jumping competitions in December, which thankfully means I’m not panicking too much now Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis (the Menace) have been and gone. It does mean that when the weather is bad, I can concentrate on my own fitness & have been making the most of The Breathing Space, which is a brand-new wellness centre near where I live in Dorset. Over the last 2 months I’ve attend regular Pilates sessions, as well as Slim Dance, Fitball & Hot Yoga – & starting to feel like I’m making good progress. I do try to fit in the odd run to help with cardio, as you need to make sure you have stamina for the cross country.  

What do you love about riding?

I love the prep work & seeing the horses gain confidence & improve during the season. Being able to hack on a gorgeous sunny evening after work is pure bliss, through to the adrenalin rush I get on the cross country. If you could bottle that feeling & sell it, I’d be a millionaire by now!  

What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

To be still enjoying what I’m doing with both horses is important otherwise it’s no fun. I have plans for the 2020 season for both boys which involve stepping up a level. All the small steps we’re doing now we’ll go towards that goal, which is exciting & a little daunting.  

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding? 

Barley at Moreton 2019
Yes, at the more important British Eventing competitions I do get that butterfly feeling in your stomach which is a mix of nerves & excitement.  

How do you deal with nerves

I’ve started working with Nicky from Be Your Best Yet, which I’m looking forward to, as it will help make sure I’m the best version of myself at competitions & go out there & give it our best shot.  

Your Top Tip 

Be in the moment with your horse, whether that’s riding, in a lesson or at a competition & don’t get distracted by social media! I often put my phone on aeroplane mode at a competition so I can purely concentrate on what I’m doing. Event riders put a lot of time, effort & money into getting to an event, & seeing something on Instagram or a WhatsApp message can throw you.  

The Final Furlong – Eight Quick Questions

Who would be your dream horse to ride?

Ben Maher’s Explosion X is pure class & I’d love to have crack at jumping the Grand Prix jumps!  

Who is your equestrian hero?

It has to be Mary King. I remember when I was little & my mum was competing, I’d walk round the lorry park collecting autographs from the pros. And Mary is lovely, friendly & very smiley. I’m fortunate to be able to compete in the same sections as Mary at British Eventing against her younger horses. There aren’t many sports where you get to compete against your childhood heroes & Olympians!  

If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?

Ben Hobday – as he would be a hoot, Tim Stockdale – as he was the nicest man in show jumping & I still can’t believe he’s gone, Sam Watson – for his cheeky Irishness & I reckon he has some good gossip, Charlotte Dujardin – so I can get some top tips for my dressage & how she always looks immaculate & Pippa Funnell – again she’s another one of my heroes & she was on fire last year.  

Favourite colour horse?

Ooh, chestnuts do look very striking especially one’s with white socks & a blaze like Barley  

Favourite horse event

Aldon Horse Trials as it was the main training grounds for my old Pony Club & I have a lot of good memories there – although sadly they no longer run the British Eventing horse trials there now. I enjoy competing at Nunney Horse Trials – & the cross country is proper beefy & needs attacking.  

Favourite food

Fresh fish is one of my favourite things & I love Rockfish restaurants. We’re lucky to have 2 now in Dorset.  

Favourite way to relax

What’s that? I’m happiest when I’m on the go & exercising. In the summer I love a sunrise or even better a sunset SUP with friends & a G&T on the board whilst on the water would be a perfect way to end the day.  

Favourite film

Oh, it has to be Dirty Dancing – I’m still searching for my Patrick Swazye.

Sharon Howe

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