the teacher whose horses live outside 24/7
In 2021, Roanna Hamilton fulfilled one of her lifelong ambitions when she reigned in the Queen’s back garden at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Her turn was Victoria Ward’s traditional colored pony, Red Warrior, which Roanna has loaned since the start of 2020.
But how does Roanna do it, especially since she doesn’t have a riding school, keeps her horses outside 24/7 and works full-time as a schoolteacher?
Roanne was first introduced to the top level by her native colored gelding Nantllesg Elwyn. The pair have won a host of titles including New Forest and Hampshire, Suffolk, Traditional of the Year Show and Equifest, among others.
“He was, and still is, an amazing pony,” says Roanna, of Elwyn who still resides with her and is now eligible for veteran classes. “He won me my first Pony Championship (UK) at the time and was the highest placed amateur pony in his final at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS). He definitely got me hooked on colored ponies.
Roanna first got to know Warrior during the first lockdown of 2020 and she had a successful 2021 in the ring with the former RIHS champion.
“We did everything together, including jumping and hunting work,” she continues. “I felt a certain pressure, as he had done so well before I had him.
“At home he now lives 24/7 and is produced in the field. We have no school or facilities other than a stable and a small laundry room, so any training or preparation must be done either in hacking or in the field when the land is dry.
Victory for Royal Windsor was a ‘dream come true’ for Roanna, who also led Warrior to an RIHS ticket as well as CHAPS, BSPA, CHAPS South East and Herts County Championship accolades.
“We hope to compete in side saddle events this year,” continues Roanna. “Keeping them outside 24/7 is hard work, especially in the winter, but it means I don’t feel guilty if I don’t get the chance to work them while they exercise. in the field. Warrior is as happy as Larry and seems to really enjoy life on the outside.
“All my schooling is done in hacking; if the ground is too wet, I cannot drive in the field. When I get to rolling on the grass, I do a lot of fartlek training, so I do fast work on one side of the court and slow down on the other, to improve my fitness. I also have to ride regularly with a headlamp.
“Sometimes during the winter I wonder why I do it because it takes long hours and keeping them clean can be a nightmare. But it’s all worth it. I find the ponies are happy in their heads too, and they are ready to learn and to continue the work Certainly, I could not do anything without my mother, she is also a teacher, so we cover ourselves when one of us has a meeting or cannot go to the field.
When it comes to making sure the ponies look ready for the show when the time comes, Roanna has a routine she sticks to.
“I oil them as much as possible with natural products”, explains Roanna. “I avoid using too many chemicals on the skin and prefer raw oils to promote hair growth. I line them, but not with full neck covers as they can smear the hair. I keep them braided mane and tail and avoid over brushing them The day before a show I will bring a pony and scrub until it is clean before blow drying it to save time I then use wood flour to dry the feathers.
“My advice to all budding amateurs is that whatever facilities you have, you can do it if you do your homework and work. I constantly learn from celebrities in show business by watching and listening to pick up tips and tricks that will work for me and my ponies Every day is a school day for me, literally!
“Breeder Lisha Leeman once told me that everyone has to learn on show, even pros at some point, and it stuck with me. Producers can have large teams around them, but they still have to do the same job.
“It’s important to observe, keep an open mind and take small steps. Even if you have a bad day in the ring, it’s an opportunity to learn and be a thoughtful rider so you can be better next time.
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Credit: Storm Johnson
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