The mother of a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Junior Champion has shared her daughter’s inspiring story to showing success.

Greenholme Falcon was crowned Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Pony of the Year with Chantelle Chapman, but it has been a challenging year for the family.

Chantelle’s mother, Victoria Oliver told Your Horse they bought Fell pony ‘Dan’ six years ago, when Chantelle was just 11 and Dan five. They came close to purchasing another Fell, but when the seller pulled out at the last minute fate brought them to him.

“The day we saw him we fell in love with him,” Victoria told Your Horse. “If you were to meet Dan you would understand it. He has that sparkle about him and is a pony that says, ‘Look at me!'”

Victoria and “one of a kind” Dan, who is “the cuddliest, most loving pony”

A star is born

Chantelle started taking Dan out at riding club level, before moving up to the Search for a Star (SFAS) series.

The pair caught the eye of the judges and were crowned SFAS Mountain & Moorland Champions in 2018, the first to win the finals at Your Horse Live.

They went on to affiliate the following year and had great success at the The NPS Championships, taking the Open Mountain & Moorland Ridden Final. They also qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

Covid dampened their plans in 2020, but last year they got back on track with another qualification and placing at the RIHS and a ticket to HOYS. They were placed fourth and came home more determined than ever.

Victoria said The Queen always gave Dan a smile

However, in March this year, Victoria was diagnosed with cancer and she required ongoing and radical treatment until June. This was at the same time as the HOYS qualifiers, but she was determined her daughter should still give it her best shot.

Chantelle and her brother Bobby, who also rides at the top level, attended Derbyshire Festival in May with their grandparents. Victoria watched virtually from her hospital bed.

To her delight, Chantelle and Dan won the HOYS Junior Large Breeds and went on to be crowned Champion Junior.

“It was the most nerve-wracking day I’ve ever had to get through,” said Victoria. “I was in floods of tears, they both went beautifully. Poor Chantelle just wished I was there.”

Fellow rider Bobby groomed for his sister at Derbyshire Festival

‘Fire in her belly’

With their golden ticket secured, preparations were in full swing for HOYS. Victoria’s treatment finished and she had to wait three months for the next update, which was just two weeks before the show.

“Treatment had cleared the cancer that was there but it had come back in my pelvis,” she said. “It was a real kick in the guts and it meant I am now terminal. It was a big shock for all of us, but if anything it gave Chantelle so much fire in her belly. She worked so hard every day, not just with Dan but with the youngsters as well. The horses have been therapy for us all.”

Victoria was able to accompany Chantelle to HOYS thanks to a gap in her treatment, and they were joined by Bobby, her mother and father, and a couple of close friends.

To the group’s delight, Chantelle won the Junior Large Breeds and went on to be crowned Junior Large Breed Champions.

Horses have provided a welcome focus for the family

“It was very emotional,” Victoria said. “The pictures tell a thousand words. HOYS is brilliant and there’s nothing like it.”

Victoria hopes their story will inspire others to keep focused on their dreams.

“The message I want to give anyone competing in showing or trying to get their golden ticket, is never give up,” she said. “People also need to understand that getting these results doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes hard work and dedication and you have good days and bad days.”

The family continue to dedicate their time to their horses and showing. Chantelle recently took up work with Team Holder and Bobby will be jumping Dan over the winter, as he plans to do working hunter classes with him next season.

The perfect all-rounder: Hacking is an important part of Dan’s routine and he enjoys trips to the beach

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