Island’s only horses and rider in Osborne Horse Trials speaks out

Sarah Holmes, 27, an event rider from Rookley is the only competitor from the Isle of Wight to be competing in the Osborne Horse Trials at Osborne House.

This is the first time that Miss Holmes hasn’t had to take her horses off the Island for an eventing competition, instead she’ll be making the 20 minute trip to East Cowes on July 25 and 26 for the Island’s first ever eventing competition.

“It’s really exciting, mainly not having to get on a ferry will be very exciting,” admitted Miss Holmes. “Normally we have to travel miles and the horses do, so it’ll be really nice to have one right on our doorstep.”

Miss Holmes explained her horses travel well as they’ve had to adapt to frequent ferry trips – she has already competed in over 10 events off the Island this year alone, and on multiple horses too.

One of the horses Miss Holmes will be taking to Osborne is Greenvale Coriado, owned by Caroline Ross  – Credit: Sarah Holmes

“In the heat at the moment they get bit a warm, but they don’t mind at all. I’m really lucky all my horses travel really well, but they sort of have had to,” added Miss Holmes.

Miss Holmes believes the ferry crossing won’t be much bother for the horses travelling from far and wide to compete in the Osborne Horse Trials. That should be welcome news for fellow competitor Andrew Hoy, 59, an Australian Olympian who holds no fewer than three gold medals – with a career spanning some 45 years.

And with a prize fund of £60,000 – other seasoned competitors will be vying for their share of the cash. Riders like Izzy Taylor, 34, who finished 2017 as British Eventings highest ranked lady rider. 

Challenging these seasoned stars are the likes of 27-year-old Ludwig Svennerstål from Sweden and Emily King, 22, of Devon. These young but hotly-anticipated riders will be joining the line-up with one ride each – so keep an eye out for them.

The Isle of Wight Horses

Lowhill Clover - Credit: Sarah Holmes
Lowhill Clover – Credit: Sarah Holmes

Miss Holmes is taking three horses from the Island with her to Osborne House and is hoping for a place. She admits a win would be very “very nice” as the prize money is so generous at this event.

“I’m taking Lowhill Clover who is one I brought from Goresbridge, Ireland as an unbroken three-year-old, or my grandad did for me, he is now 16, so I’ve done everything with him. He has competed in Blenheim before so it will be a nice run for him.

“Then I’ve got Dunganstown Fleur, she is 12 now, she’s my little pocket rocket. She was also an unbroken three-year-old back from Goresbridge, Ireland and I’ve brought her on myself which is really nice.

Dunganstown Fleur - Credit: Sarah Holmes
Dunganstown Fleur – Credit: Sarah Holmes

“Then I’ve got Greenvale Coriado who is owned by Caroline Ross. I’ve had him for about five maybe six years now. He came to me having not done a lot in the field and he’s come on is really enjoying his eventing.”

Miss Holmes and her horse Lowhill Clover were selected to ride for Team GB at the 2* European Eventing Championships, held in Helvoirt, Holland, in August 2015.

When asked how she thinks she’ll do in this event, she said: “Who knows, the aim is always to go for a placing. A win would be very nice, but who knows, totally with animals it will depend on the day – but we’ll be going there to do our best.”

What is eventing?

British Eventing say the sport could be described as an “equestrian triathlon”. Horse and rider are tested over flat and fences through three phases, dressage, cross-country jumping, and show jumping.

Dressage is first up. Balance, rhythm suppleness and obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider are judged as they are put through a serious of compulsory movements – a bit like a high stakes dance mat – only for horses.

Then it’s time for show jumping, fences are jumped with poles that can be knocked down. If they are knocked down or the horse refuses to jump – penalties incur. This is a timed event with smaller fences than top level show jumping, but still challenging for the horses.

Finally, the cross-country event sees horse and rider navigate a course of obstacles with the ultimate goal of completing the course within an “optimum time”, meaning horses finishing too fast or too slow will be penalised. As will falling off and stopping at obstacles.

Full horse & rider listing & tickets are on sale now at, prices start at just £10.50 for children and £23 for adults.