Deborah Blagden has been chosen as January’s The Howden Way Spotlight Award winner for showing inclusivity and valuing diversity, showing camaraderie and mutual support, celebrating development of skills and knowledge over outcome and being a great role model and ambassador for the sport. As part of her award, Deborah wins a uvex exxential II riding helmet, courtesy of Zebra Products.
Deborah rides Kilmurray Dargle, aka Hector, a rising nine-year-old Connemara gelding who her daughter Madeleine Blagden competed throughout her years in the U18 programme, including selection for and competing at Bishop Burton Regional Championships.
Coach Lisa Morris nominated Deborah for the January Spotlight Award on behalf of the East Midlands Area Academy. She said: “Deborah has now taken over the reins of Hector whilst her daughter is away at university. She enjoyed the involvement and camaraderie she witnessed in this programme, and being no mean jockey herself, joined our The Howden Way training at Field Farm. She has immediately booked on our next one and has her sights set on qualifying for the BE80 championships. Although new to the rider role, she is an experienced and committed BE member.”
Laura Collett, who has the pleasure of selecting the winning candidate, said: “Deborah has gone to show that, while it’s important to nurture our children and give them the best opportunities, it’s also important to enjoy ourselves and take the time to do the things we love, and she is doing just that with her daughter’s pony. Deborah has witnessed first-hand the benefits of training from watching her daughter, and is now reaping the rewards in the saddle herself. It’s great to see how much the academy has motivated Deborah into aiming for the BE80 championships, and I wish her the best of luck going forwards.”
Deborah commented: “I’m a 58-year-old who rides a beautiful 15hh dun Connemara gelding, known as Hector. We purchased Hector from Emerald Irish Horses just over three years ago for my then 16-year-old daughter to do BE U18s on. Hector successfully competed at the 2022 U18 Championships representing East Midlands.
“My daughter has now gone to university and I have been left holding the reins, so decided after seeing The Howden Way Regional Training, that I would attempt to try and qualify for Bramham NAF BE80 Championship. My aim is to compete at BE80 events this year, hoping to qualify for Bramham 2025 when I will be 60.
“When I was in my 20’s, I competed up to pre novice and novice level, but then had three children and didn’t compete again for nearly 30 years. The Howden Way Training Academy has opened up the opportunity for people like myself to have access to great coaches and training facilities, encouraging me to return to eventing.
“I am extremely lucky to have regular training sessions with both Lisa Morris and Maddy Moffett who are the best ambassadors for The Howden Way. I would thoroughly recommend and encourage anyone to sign up for the training that is on offer as it is so beneficial. Thank you so much for the honour of this award!”
Each month, coaches delivering The Howden Way Regional Academies are invited to nominate a member who has championed the core values of the Academies whether it be welfare, driving for inclusivity, creating camaraderie and supporting others, celebrating development of skills and knowledge over outcomes and developing true ambassadors for the sport. The winner is then selected by Olympic Gold Medallist, Laura Collett, from a shortlist of contenders who have been nominated as deserving.
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Non-members can attend up to two of any of The Howden Way training academies. For more information on The Howden Way training, visit here. For those wishing to join, there is a 40% discount for new Pony Club and Riding Club members. For information on how to join, visit here