Newcastle University

Newcastle University

Centre for Physical Recreation & Sport

Newcastle student rides for gold at international event

Chemical Engineering student Helen McAll helped propel Team GB to a first place finish at the Student Riding Nations cup series in Switzerland.

Helen and hear teammates won a grand total of seven medals at the Switzerland’s leg of the AIEC cup series, including gold in Show Jumping, silver in Dressage and the overall gold.

The 22-year-old said: “Winning the overall Gold was an amazing experience, really thrilling. Everything came together just at the right time. It was an action packed event, three days of competition with social events in the evening. The horses provided were of a range of abilities which gave for an exciting competition and which played in team GB’s favour.

“Student riding is a unique equestrian competition where you compete on borrowed horses in dressage and then different horses in show jumping. Having 5 minutes to warm up and get to know your horse before entering the arena to be judged. Having ridden a variety of horses at varying ability when growing up and competing in BUCS, has helped me hugely in developing a great feel for the horse enabling me to give my best performance in the ring.”

This is the fourth national call up for Helen, following competitions in Romania 2015, the Netherlands 2015 and Poland 2016. She has been riding since early childhood. Her first pony, Magpie – he is still going strong at 32 years old Shetland. She started in pony club, like most equestrians, competing in every discipline possible (polo, eventing, dressage, show jumping, mounted games) before choosing show jumping.

Helen, from East Sussex, explains: “There are two phases to equestrian competitions: Dressage and Show Jumping. Selecting the horse you ride is made by ‘drawing out of a hat’. The warm up time is limited to five minutes, so it is essential to have a good feel and make quick judgments on how to get the best out of your horse. In addition, riders are only judge against other riders on the same horse and the lowest penalties wins overall.”

Talking about the forthcoming season, the postgraduate student said: “We have strong team for BUCS this year so I have high hopes in qualifying the team for the National Finals; having been placed 11th in 2015 and 4th in 2016 individually I’d also love get a medal this season. I hope to compete for team GB next year in Belgium, and if all goes well at nationals; selection for FISU World University equestrian Games next summer is my aspiration.”

published on: 1st December 2017

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Last updated 1 December, 2017 © 2018 Newcastle University

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