Scotland’s endurance riding manager back for another year

Scottish Chef d'Equipe, Nicky Bertham with her horse, King, at home in Longnewton.
Scottish Chef d'Equipe, Nicky Bertham with her horse, King, at home in Longnewton.

Newtown St Boswells’ Nicky Bertham has completed her first year as Chef d’Equipe of the Scottish endurance horse riding team.

The team manager moved into the role after several years as a team selector for the sport which sees horses, monitored regularly by vets, and riders cover distances of up to 160km.

The 37-year-old said: “I’m incredibly proud of my whole team, they all came together and there was true team spirit.”

The Scots were second in the Home International earlier this year, beaten by Ireland by minutes, and fourth in the Celtic Challenge after one of the team’s high-mileage horses (now recovered) was ‘vetted’ out. The Scottish riders also won the best turned-out award.

Nicky has been asked to stay on as Chef next year when Kelso will host the Home International and Celtic Challenge, as well as the Scottish Championships.

“Being Chef means attending viewing rides, selection rides, going to events to view combinations while they prepare for riding, at the vetting, crewing on course and general horsemanship.

“All these things are taken into account when you are looking at potential team members.

“It is an extremely busy job. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was very happy with our outcome.”

The sport involves pleasure or training rides of up to 30km with varying distances thereafter up to the 160km in one day.

Vets check the horses’ condition before and after the rides and there is a grading system for the competitive riders from bronze (two 30km and one 50km rides) to diamond (completing 160 km in one day).

Nicky, a contracts officer with Scottish Borders Council, retired her older prize-winning Standardbred horse, Maverick, now aged 25, last year. And she has brought her young Standardbred, Klondyke King Adios, on slowly, last year achieving a bronze pleasure ride award.

“I’ve had Mav 22 years this month and I can’t imagine life without him. My newer boy is very laid back. It has taken a while to bond together, but when you start to do endurance, the bond begins to get stronger and stronger, “ she said.

She started endurance riding on Mav in 2000: “I can’t believe I have been involved with the sport for so long. It has been a fantastic experience: you come together and make some amazing friendships that will last a lifetime.

“My greatest achievement was everything that Mav managed to accomplish in his career. Once it clicked and he realised what it was all about, he was just amazing. I miss riding him so much and competing with him. I am hoping in a couple of years King will be just as good and that some day we will be brave enough to take the Exmoors at the Golden Horseshoe, the toughest ride in Britain.”

In her role as Chef, Nicky added: “We are busy planning our training schedule for team selection and hoping to hold a training camp weekend around Perth during April.

“I would like to be Chef for the four years, covering all the countries (which host the Home International and Celtic Challenge), and the ultimate would be winning the double.”

The endurance riding calendar starts again in March.