Katie Stephen buzzing after ‘amazing’ Badminton Horse Trials debut

Katie Stephen on her horse Mister Carter at the Badminton Horse Trials.
Katie Stephen on her horse Mister Carter at the Badminton Horse Trials.

A Hawick horse-rider who turned a former racehorse into a showjumper has been reflecting on her debut appearance at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials.

Katie Stephen retrained Mister Carter herself and was rewarded by qualifying for the regional finals at Badminton.

The 22-year-old described it as “an amazing experience and one I will never forget.”

She said: “I have never been to Badminton before, and watching on the TV just doesn’t allow you to grasp the complexity of the cross-country fences with such acute angles and undulating ground.

“Most riders make it look easy, which just shows how amazingly talented they are.”

Based in a yard near Bonchester Bridge, Katie runs her own business, Thistle Thoroughbreds, and takes horses in for schooling, education, retraining, pre-raining and sales livery.

She believes Mister Carter is now cope better at other big events, such as the Blair Castle Horse Trials.

“Mister Carter is an ex-­racehorse who I retrained my self, she explained. “He came to me straight from the racing yard, and I have been so lucky to have found such an amazing equine partner.

She added: “In the run-up to Badminton I was just preparing as I would for any other event. It didn’t quite register with me how big an honour it was to have qualified until I was there. Everyone was so nice and friendly and always wishing each other well.

“Carter felt amazing, I can’t explain the buzz it gave me when we received a massive cheer from the crowd as we jumped clear through the lake at Badminton.”

Katie and Mister Carter had to work hard to earn their qualification for the regional finals at Badminton.

First, they won their section at Warwick Hall Horse Trials. The pair were then placed fifth in their regional final at Burgham Horse Trials, which then qualified them for the finals Badminton.

Out of the 1,000 who took part in qualifiers all over Britain, Katie and Carter were one of 200 participants who made it to the regional finals at Badminton.

Although the big crowd and electric atmosphere caused Mister Carter to react during the dressage and showjumping, he quickly relaxed and Katie jumped clear on the demanding cross country course.

She explained: “As we jumped clear through the historic lake at Badminton and the crowd cheered as we galloped away to the next fence, that’s when it hit me... I had actually just jumped clear through the Badminton lake which I had watched the 4* riders do for years while I was growing up. I think at that point I realised this wasn’t just any other event.”

Katie said trip south would not have been possible without the help, support and sponsorship of ECCL (James & Anita Wilson), Luxury Scarf Shop & Stevie Purves Photography.