Nyngan’s Maddie Harley has taken out the junior final at the NSW Country Showjumping Championships.
Harley, 17, has been been showjumping since the age of six, and is close friends with Australian Young Rider Champion Condobolin’s Madeline Sinderberry.
But on November 4 and 5, Harley beat the Australian champ and the rest of the field in a jump-off.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Harley said. “She’s my best friend so it’s always a fun rivalry.”
The jump-off was nerve-racking, Harley said, but she has ways of keeping herself calm and focused.
“The course was about 1.2 metres and it was an AM5 where you do your first round and those that jump cleanly [no refusals, rails down or time penalties] go into the jump-off,” she said.
“The jumps are raised five or 10 centimetres and it’s no longer the full course it’s just a small number of jumps and it’s against the clock. Your fastest round with the least amount of penalties wins.
“You always get a little bit nervous, especially when you’re the first out but I just kick my feet out of my stirrups and concentrate on what I have to do.”
Harley got her win on Jasper, a stock horse x thoroughbred that she has trained herself.
He was one of two Harley-trained horses that jumped at the championships, with five-year-old grey Maeve finishing ninth in the first junior qualifier.
“Hopefully she’ll be able to do some big tracks when she’s older,” Harley said.
”That was her first junior class and probably one of the biggest tracks she’s ever jumped. It was a good weekend to step her up with nice grounds and a suitable surface.
“[Jasper] is quirky but he’s good, he knows what his job is.”
Harley said it was always “a lot more rewarding when you do well on a horse you’ve brought up yourself”.
”It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed,” she said.
“You have such a good connection with your horse and it’s great to have so much trust in your animal. And that feeling of going over jumps – you can’t beat it.”
Harley now turns her attention to the Summer Classic in Sydney, a World Cup qualifying event. Although too young to qualify yet, Harley said she does hope to make it to a World Cup one day.