Alice Watson

ALICE WATSON - Showjumping

I am delighted to be a part of the Piker team and incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity. I had a somewhat unconventional start to Showjumping in that I came from a family with no equestrian background other than my mother growing up riding ponies in a remote part of Scotland and my Aunt breeding the odd Arab on her Somerset farm, where my love of horses became apparent aged around 2, as soon as I could express a liking for things.

My determination (maybe stubbornness!) and persistence, backed up by friends’ parents, eventually earnt me a loan pony and membership of the local Quantock Pony Club. Unusually for a Showjumper it was Pony Club where I predominantly learnt all aspects of horsemanship, the foundations of riding and the basic skills involved in the main equestrian disciplines.

Despite a love of Cross Country, it was the competitiveness, speed, strategy and excitement of the jump off that won Showjumping my heart from the beginning. However, a complete lack of knowledge and awareness meant that I didn't affiliate to British Showjumping until I was 18, instead competing at Pony Club Area Level in Showjumping and Eventing, thus missing out on Pony and Junior years and not having the experience of Young Rider Classes. Neither did I have a horse capable of jumping more than 1.10m.

My parents insisted that I did A Levels and a University degree before taking any ‘time out’ to compete. Upon completion of my studies, having very limited experience I was leagues behind my peers with no horse to bridge the gap. I sold my horse that I had bought as a project before University and purchased an unregistered, late-starting green 5yo with every penny of my profits. This high-spirited mare, a dappled grey named Billy Lemon, would turn out to be my ticket to justifying a career in Showjumping and competing alongside the idols my 9-year-old self had identified on my first trip to Olympia!

I spent some years working for experience and opportunities in order to learn my trade: I learnt immeasurable amounts from breaking Racehorses for the Costello family and then working for Geoff Luckett. I eventually gained my dream job as a stable jockey for Irish International Niall Talbot in Switzerland. A severe neck injury that flared up in my time there caused a premature end to this. When I eventually was able to ride again I had little choice other than the daunting prospect of setting up alone far sooner than I had hoped.

Luckily for me the now 9yo Billy Lemon was exceeding all expectations and starting to get me noticed. I gained some supportive owners and in my first year alone she set me up in a way I could only have dreamed of: Winning 6 World Ranking Classes, International Grand Prix and big classes at prolific National and International shows. I ended the year ranked 19th in GB and in the top 300 on the World Ranking List. The highlight of my career was winning the main jumping class at The Hickstead Derby Meeting: the 1.50m World Ranking jump off class against a field of my childhood heroes in front of a packed crowd.

Competing at a high level at big international shows is what I love most of all, but having had to start most of my horses from the beginning of their careers, producing young horses for competition and sale has become the basis of my business and career. As with most professional riders my goals are to produce horses to achieve their maximum potential with the hope of being lucky enough to produce or come across some starts capable of taking me onto Nations Cup Teams and climbing up the World Rankings. I feel incredibly lucky to call my passion my job and to have this invaluable support from a globally renowned company such as Pikeur.

Alice and Billy Lemon in the 1.50m World Ranking Jump Off Class at Hickstead 2015, which she went on to win

Alice on Billy Confessor going for equal 1st place in the 5yo Class in Spain, April 2016

Alice and Billy Confessor jumping clear in the 5yo Class in Oliva Nova Spain, March 2016

Alice and Billy Lemon winning the World Ranking Jump Off Class at Oliva Nova, April 2016

Alice on KEC Havana winning 1.40m at Oliva Nova, Spain February 2017

The moment of realising a dream- Alice thanking Billy Lemon after winning the 'Tom Hudson Derby Trophy', the 1.50m World Ranking Jump Off Class in June 2015