Equestrian and horse trainer Karon Carson believes all her hard work finally came to fruition after claiming fourth place at the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Grassroots Championships in Gloucester.
After qualifying from the British Eventing 90 (BE90) Scottish Championships in first place last July with a dressage score of 22 and a double clear of jumping, Carson, who lives in Dunbar, undertook the nine-hour drive with horse Finding Nico to the south west of England last week where 127 horse and rider combinations took part in what proved some stiff competition.
After the first day of competition, the 43-year-old was positioned as overnight joint-leader with a dressage score of 25.9. The Scot then claimed the overall lead the following day with a solid performance in the show jumping phase. The cross country phase, however, proved the biggest challenge due to her losing her stopwatch on the circuit – riders subsequently find it difficult to gauge their performance around the course without being able to keep track of their time.
However, her dressage score was good enough to secure her fourth place overall and an achievement she says she is still trying to come to terms with.
“Badminton Horse Trials is the highest regarded competition in the eventing calendar which only the elite four-star riders in the world compete in,” Carson said. “Badminton also allows amateur riders the chance to ride alongside the top athletes.
“Around 1000 horse and rider combinations qualified for the regional finals but only 200 out of that get to go to the legendary Badminton. It was such a special experience and one I’ll never forget.”
Despite relinquishing her lead to finish in fourth overall, Carson says her career has never been about winning where her satisfaction revolves around the relationships she has with her horses.
“Nico was awesome from start to finish so I was over the moon with his performance,” Carson explained. “Our partnership is so strong that no final result can change how I feel about this one-in-a-million horse. It was a completely overwhelming experience being placed at Badminton. I have always worked so hard all my life to finally get to this position that all the hard work, disappointments, lack of money and hard graft came flooding back as we lined up to receive our prize. I actually burst into tears!”
With entering competitions a financial challenge, Carson received a massive boost before the event when concierge business Call Alfred Ltd stepped forward with some sponsorship to help offset some of the costs.
“I couldn’t quite believe it when they said they’d help,” she said. “Thank goodness they did because I would have been eating beans for a month to pay for the event!”
Success struck again just last weekend when Carson and horse Kelserton Combat, who was competing in his first ever BE event at Kirriemuir Horse Trials, placed third overall.
Carson and Finding Nico, though, will attempt to qualify for the Scottish Championships again on Saturday but this time at BE100 level. The competition takes place at Floors Castle in Kelso. Carson says her long-term aspiration is to compete on an international level.
“We would love to compete internationally but that very much depends on finding financial backing and new sponsorship,” she added.
Anyone interested in discussing sponsorship and helping Karon and Finding Nico achieve their full potential should contact Karon at email@example.com or karon carson equestrian on Facebook and @ Team__Carson on Twitter.