No stranger to the Highland Show as a regular winner and a well-known face amongst the Scottish show jumping fraternity, David Harland will again be at Ingliston for another year.

This year, though, he will be with a team of three younger horses, all making their debut.

Based only 10 minutes from Ingliston, this makes it the ‘local show’ for the Yorkshire-born David.

Growing up with horses on a dairy farm near Whitby, he started riding at a young age, competing competitively in 128cm classes from the age of seven.

“I was lucky to get a really good jumping pony. That’s where it all started. I then went to my first BS show and as a result, we ended up buying a lorry as we were then competing every weekend up and down the country,” David explained.

“Our first visit to the Highland was the 128cm finals aged eight where I was placed third.” Since then, he has been highly successful, jumping for England and Britain, both at home and internationally.

David made the move up to Scotland 12 years ago at the age of 19 after being head-hunted to work for Fintry-based Des Le Marquand.

“I spent several years competing successfully with his horses up to nations cup level with the young rider’s British team,” he said.

Alongside riding and competing, David started freelance teaching in 2009 and is now a respected UKCC level 3 show jumping specific coach, regularly travelling throughout Scotland sharing his knowledge to riders of all levels, from Pony Club and Riding Club, through to Scottish squad members.

Due to demand, the small set up that David and his fiance, Caroline, initially started with at Kirknewton, has been constantly growing. Bought in December, 2015, the former boarding kennels and small stable block – which needed some TLC – were swiftly turned into a school and a shed with the help of Duncan and Rab Macintosh.

“We built the shed big enough for 12 stables and a wash bay, putting in six to start with but very soon having to add the additional ones,” explained David.

“To allow us to continue to grow, the latest addition has been the next-door yard which will add a further 14 stables.”

However, the new yard needs a lot of work and David added: “It’s got so much potential, but we couldn’t have afforded it if it wasn’t for all the work needing done.”

With not only David’s string of horses on the yard, Caroline’s daughters, 13-year-old Sophie and 11-year-old Aimee, are both keen show jumpers too, standing the equine headcount on the yard at 17, ranging from Aimee’s 12.2hh ponies through to David’s competition horses.

“I have four horses I compete regularly and they are the foundation of my team, additionally I compete a couple of the liveries horses to keep them ring ready to accommodate their owners’ busy lives at university and work,” David explained.

“We are a small family yard and are very lucky with the liveries we have who are all lovely, one of our first liveries arrived for six weeks’ training three years ago before we even built the shed and has grown from a young girl testing out BE80 to aiming for the Frickley eventing under 18 championships. We regularly get horses and ponies for myself and the girls to produce and compete too.”

Groom, Calum, along with the help from Caroline and the girls, manage the day-to-day running of the yard at Kirknewton.

“Caroline does all the organising of the teaching that I do,” David explained. “She keeps everything ticking and knows where I need to be and when.”

Calum has worked for David for the last three years: “We couldn’t survive without Calum. He’s a great help with the horses and even has a little turn of babysitting two-year-old Georgina when everyone else is on a horse,” he said.

Having competed at the Highland Show for the last 23 years, David has had multiple successes.

In 2015, he rode Suzanne Craighead’s Faubar to come out top in the Grade C final, with 2016 being another successful year when winning the speed challenge on Liz Smith’s Nux d’ Mour.

However, the title David still hasn’t got his hands on is the thrilling NSR Invitational Mini Major that takes place in the main ring on Friday afternoon, where eight pony riders and eight senior riders are paired up and jump courses against the clock with the fastest pair coming out on top.

“I always go as fast as I can,’ explained David, ‘but the best place I have managed to date is second – however, it is always great fun.”

This year’s Highland hopefuls will be competing in a range of classes over the course of the week. Geoff and Elspeth Adams’ He’s Our Harley will be campaigned in the William Sheret MBE B and C championship final on Friday, as well as the Andrew Hamilton novice championship final on Saturday.

Also jumping in the Andrew Hamilton final will be John Jamieson’s JJ’s Sure to Fly, a seven-year-old that arrived at David’s in March. John’s other horse, five-year-old JJ’s Here to Impress, will be competing on Thursday night in the Balcormo Stud potential ridden sports horse five-year-old section.

This year also sees Sophie’s first year of competing at the show.

Riding Chapelmill Choir Boy, she will have a busy Sunday riding in both The Sign Company/Danny’s Snacks 138cm championship final and the Liz Fox JC Royal Highland Show championship final – a class which Caroline won in 1993 when Liz Fox wrote for The Scottish Farmer.

“I have been to shows in South Africa, France, Belgium and I’ve competed at Hickstead and HOYS, but the Highland Show remains my favourite.

“We only live 10 minutes away – so it feels like we know everyone and everyone knows us, and is there to support us. The atmosphere is amazing.”