Local eventer Flora Harris is well prepared for a third Badminton completion
This may be Marlborough based Flora Harris’ attempt for a third completion at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in a few weeks, but she is definitely not looking to the proverb, ‘third time’ lucky’, to see her through.
Nothing is being left to chance in her bid with Bayano - known as Barney, a 12-year old 16 2hh gelding who has won Bramham and was eighth at Blenheim, - to complete this world renowned international event.
The preparation as regards competition experience has not been ideal due to the bad weather and the number of events cancelled as a result, but as Flora says, everyone else is in the same position.
“I have done all the other preparation we can do and it would be very easy to get stressed but I have made a plan and we will stick to it,” says Flora, who has just celebrated her thirtieth birthday.
What is impressive about this young rider is that for many years all avenues of training and preparation have been important to her and no stone is left unturned in her quest to perform to best of her abilities and ultimately to ride internationally for Team GB.
She made her only championship appearance so far at the 2007 young rider European Championships at Blair, riding as an individual on Double Image II and spent two years on the World Development Squad.
As well as using dressage trainer Andrew Fletcher and Jeremy Scott for show jumping, she has worked with human performance coach Jon Pitts for nine years and works out regularly in the gym.
With nine horses to ride daily, you wouldn’t think she would need the gym, but again, ensuring she is fit enough is a controllable factor that Flora intends to control: “I am very competitive and ambitious and I look at other elite sports, where every avenue is explored in order to improve and I try and do the same. I suffered with nerves in the past and I intend to tick every box to take full advantage."
“At Badminton, I will be competing against the very best, exceptional athletes who will all have been diligent in their preparation. Our more seasoned team riders are still phenomenal riders and continue to improve.”
Flora has come through the cross-country finish flags at Badminton twice, but on her debut in 2011 she withdrew Law Choice from the holding box when lying 19th after 2.4 time-faults across country. In 2015 she withdrew Amazing VIII before the trot-up following a nasty injury sustained during the cross country.
Barney is owned by Flora’s mother and Seattle based Rebecca Salt, and Flora is grateful to a “wonderful” group of owners and the recent sponsorship by Pewsey based Lucy Rodwell Chiropractor: “One of the most challenging parts of the job is the expense!”
Costs are one area she definitely cannot control but nothing else is being left to chance.
Competition photos by Anna Franklin - with thanks.