Local Invesco employee, Jade Bennett, and her horse, Vamps, are all set to compete in the Henley Show for the first time on Saturday (9th September). The event will also be their debut competition as a pairing, as they aim to make a mark in the Working Hunter Class.
Jade’s connection with horses goes back to her childhood. She shared, “I started riding when I was about 12. About 8 or 9 years ago, I decided I should probably start doing my own thing with my own horse. I got my first horse, and we didn’t have smooth sailing. It was a very rocky journey: there were lots of health issues, she was up and down with injuries, and I sadly had to say goodbye to her about two years ago because it just got so bad. At the same time in my personal life, I was going through a lot as well because I lost my dad to COVID. You know, you do get in a bit of a low state of thinking, what do I do? I decided, you know what, I like horse riding, I always have, do I give it another go? Let’s see how we go. And I decided to adventure again and, and find another horse, which wasn’t an easy road, I’m not gonna lie.”
Jade’s quest led her to Vamps, whose registered name is Vampire, and it was clear from their very first meeting that the pair were meant to be. She recalled the moment, saying, “It was one of those classic, almost like a movie moments. I came into the stable and looked at him and he literally came up to me and put his head on my chest, and stood there for ages. I was like, oh my gosh, this might be the one. It was a match made in heaven really.”
Jade has been involved with the Henley Show (amongst many other local events) through Invesco, and is excited to finally be experiencing the event as a competitor. She explained, “Now I’ve got a horse that is able to do stuff, it would be nice to go to the Henley Show this year and show that, and also to represent the company in a way. Invesco sponsors the event but the staff are also involved in it in various different ways, whether attending or competing. The aim is to go and represent Invesco, show ourselves off a little bit, and see how we get on, but enjoy it at the same time. It’s all about having fun.”
Jade will be competing in the Working Hunter Class with Vamps, which is judged 60% for jumping, 20% for riding and 20% for Conformation. Jade explained, “It’s making your horse look as pretty as possible in the traditional English country style.” They will also be entering the Foreign Breeds Class, for horses or ponies who are of registered breeds not native to the UK. Vamps is an Anglo European, so qualifies to enter.
Jade has previous experience in competing with other horses in other classes, but hasn’t yet done anything high level. Working with Vamps has been a welcome new challenge for her, especially after having had so many health issues with her previous horse. She said, “Now I’m really getting my teeth into stuff and doing a lot more with Vamps, one, because he’s able to, and two, it’s also given me the chance to get out there and get the experience. And I thought, while we’re able to, we will do the showing side of it whilst working towards, eventually, eventing.”
Highlighting the importance of the horse-rider partnership, Jade emphasized, “For me, it’s always about the partnership with the horse. If you get that, then the horse will absolutely anything for you that they can do, because they trust you and you’ve got that relationship. Otherwise, you don’t get the full backing from them. I think that became very apparent with the previous owners that had [Vamps]. They had him for about a year and a half because they started having problems with his jumping – a few refusals and eliminations because there was possibly not the partnership that they were hoping for there. Hence why he ended up falling in my lap, but I think he chose me more than I chose him. It makes it a bit more of a special relationship because I wasn’t really expecting it and I didn’t plan to have him, but what is meant to be is meant to be and he’s obviously taken to me.”
While the journey with Vamps hasn’t been without its challenges, Jade’s dedication and hard work have paid off. She commented, “It’s never an easy road having horses. There’s always something. But the thing is, when you get the right one, the reward that you get from when you put the effort in, it outweighs everything that you’ve had negative in the past. Because it makes that journey so much more worthwhile when you do make the effort to get to that point.”
Whether competitng or not, Jade has long been an avid supporter of the Henley Show. She said, “For years, I have been going with the company and watching and supporting. I always get as many tickets as I can so my family can come along and make it a full family affair. It’s been great because when I started going, it was quite small. Every year there’s always something extra that gets chucked in there. I’ve always spread the word with people if they want to do something a bit different, I say, why don’t you try the Henley Show!”
The Henley Show returns this Saturday, 9th September, and tickets can be purchased here.