In this series introducing our Masta partners we welcome Melissa Chapman to the fold, here she reflects on the highlights of her dressage career to date and also points to the future with a group of exciting horses.
So, this is all rather exciting…my first Team Chapman Equestrian blog for Harry Hall and Masta. I have been incredibly lucky to become a part of this team and over the last year or so, I have loved hosting a yard visit, a rather hectic yet hugely successful photo shoot as well as enjoying the opportunity to trial and test a range of products. I have also been given a tip off that the horses are rather impressed with their involvement too!
Before I launch into the main content of my maiden blog, I thought that I ought to introduce myself. My dressage horses, team and I are based in North Yorkshire where we are incredibly lucky to be situated ‘next door’ to my Mum and Dad; they are an ever-present force to be reckoned with but I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Whilst dressage is our specialism, we have occasionally dabbled in a little bit of eventing and show jumping. I started riding when I was just 2 years old, which currently equates to 29 years of experience; how time flies. I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented and trainable horses throughout this period of time, as well as facing the challenge of taming others…
Meet Norman (DHI Work Of Art) - my horse of a lifetime
We first met in December 2008 yet, despite his somewhat quirky sense of humour, we have never looked back. His opinionated outlook on life was the making of our partnership and, whilst I haven’t always rejoiced in his ‘I know better than you’ antics, I wouldn’t be where I am today if our paths hadn’t crossed. He is that ‘one in a million’ and most definitely my horse of a lifetime. We have created so many incredible memories together it is rather difficult to select a ‘greatest achievement’, so I’m going to cheat and share more than one of our highlights…
In 2010 we achieved that much sought after ‘golden ticket’ for the Winter Nationals April saw us heading to Hartpury in order to compete in the Medium class (restricted.) Taking into account Norman’s age, and the fact that we had only been a partnership for just over a year, our main intent was to enjoy the experience, as qualifying was an achievement in itself. Our test felt lovely…infact great in places, but in a class of 23 it was difficult to imagine where we would finish. So, to find myself leading the lap of honour as National Champion was a dream come true. BD reported that we’d won the class ‘in style’’...no complaints there.
Fast-forward 7 years to April 2017, and we were Hartpury bound again. Norman and I received an invitation to be a part of the Gala evening at the BD National championships. The build-up to this was great fun and, with our music arranged by Tom Hunt and the floor plan designed by my trainer (Ian Woodhead), the journey towards the evening was an incredible one. On the night, I was a little nervous, but Norman felt phenomenal and he gave his all. The arena was buzzing and the occasion far bigger than anything else that we had ever experienced.
In May 2017, we welcomed the Masta team to the yard for a two-day photo shoot. We had a blast and, it goes without saying, that Norman managed to muscle in on the proceedings to steal the limelight. He looked stunning in the photos and made it very clear that he was a super-huge fan of anything and everything from the Protechmasta range...I’m in total agreement with him.
At the end of August 2017, and with a very heavy heart, I made the decision to retire my gentle giant and he is now enjoying the life of riley, the team and I are at his beck and call! He has given me everything…and more. Whilst I miss riding him and the buzz of taking to the dressage arena together, I am so incredibly proud of what we achieved together. He is learning to love a mooch in the field (and to refrain from being overly wild.) He also continues to entertain us all with his stable antics and Houdini powers…he can be a little bit of a cheeky boy at times; we love it!
And the future here, at Team Chapman Equestrian, is an incredibly bright one. I am in such a privileged position because the yard is full of talented, trainable and beautiful horses. In the main, they are young (and proving to be superstars in the making.) I guess, just like with Norman, I have to be patient, seek the right training path for them and enjoy being a part of their journey. A huge thank you to Masta and Harry Hall for being a huge part of what I do and aim to achieve.