St John’s Academy equestrian squad goes from strength to strength
St John’s Academy equestrian squad has grown from just eight student members three years ago to thirty very active members who have achieved some considerable success in both area and national competitions.
The squad, led by parent managers Katharine Towle and Biddy Lloyd Jones, competes in events organised by the Schools Equestrian Games (SEG) and National Schools Equestrian Associatio n(NSEA) throughout the year. Students compete as individuals and as a team in the NSEA events and as individuals in the SEG events. The events cover show jumping, arena eventing, eventers challenge and dressage.
There are also one day events which are a combination of dressage, show jumping and cross country. Competitors must achieve well in the NSEA events in order to qualify for the National Championships, held every year at Addington Manor, Buckinghamshire.
This year the St John’s squad came out top of the Central West region and was able to take a squad of twenty to the NSEA National Championships last month. They were the second biggest squad in the whole country. Out of fifty-five teams competing St John’s were placed in the top ten for most of the events with some excellent individual achievements.
This is a real achievement for the students who are completely self-funded and who do not have the financial backing given by many private schools.
Katharine told marlborough.news, “We are keen to bust the myth that the sport is hugely elitist. Members of our squad come from all walks of life. Parents make sacrifices to support their children and the children themselves make sacrifices. Looking after a horse is hard work and they put so much work into the training, especially in the winter months.”
Biddy added, “The team all work really hard and put in huge effort, as do the parents, to make it work and to achieve such fantastic results for the school. There is a great team culture and we have made a name for ourselves on the equestrian circuit, not only for the riding but also for the supportiveness of the riders and parents for each other, including our loud cheering!”
The St John’s squad are grateful to receive sponsorship from Bond Construction which has enabled them to purchase team jackets. They have also been pleased to receive help from Laura Hattea of Boomerang Stables near Lambourn. Katharine said, “Laura is very passionate about young riders and runs training sessions for us. She accompanied them to the championship.”