Winter is now upon us, show jumping has moved back inside, a few riders are having a quiet spell, others head off chasing qualifiers held at the Winter Classic shows and juniors start to form new partnerships ready for the early junior premier shows.

Spending the majority of his time in the sunshine this year has been James Smith whose trips to Portugal and France have proven very successful with his latest run out to Vilamoura with a team of younger and more established horses collecting their share of prizes and clear rounds.

Riding for Tom Carruthers, James has won a 1.45m speed with Juno Rose, has been placed in the 1.45m Grand Prix with his own and Jim Wilmer’s Tayvale Hunky Dory and won a Longines World Ranking speed class with Jim’s Wickeds Vancouver with each of these horses relatively new to these levels.

Jim did have the pleasure of mixing a family holiday in the sun whilst watching his horses compete but is also a regular at the more local shows where his home-based rider Isla Stewart has been scooping up the smaller speed classes with Tarnside Globetrotter which sees them shoot to the top of the Bronze League.

Edinburgh’s Sandy McLean once again beat some of the best partnerships in Britain to score at Northcote Stud in the Grand Prix. His ride was the huge but super speedy Gino F but just for good measure Sandy also stood second on Zoey 12. This will be just another performance that will make sure the selectors will be watching him ready for next year’s teams

Finishing in fourth with a double clear was Jordan Thompson on Katie McArdle’s Imperium RJ winner of a Winter 1.35m as well as being victorious at Aintree and Morris recently and looking to have struck up a good partnership with Jordan having taken over the ride from Douglas Duffin towards the end of last year.

Douglas however was on form with the lovely seven-year-old Chacoon Blue daughter Millfield Chacolatte when returning the fastest of just four double clears to head the Winter B+C.

In a Blue Chip Karma qualifier, Jordan was the highest placed Scot this time on Muzica TL followed by Trevor Nicholson on No Kojak R and Rachel Aitken with Madame Shutterfly.

Logan Creighton jumped two super clears for fourth in the Winter Grade C on his chestnut stallion Le Faut but his Calido daughter Calini, fourth in the Star of the Future Grabd Prix at Arena UK brought him home a red when faultless in a B+C at Aintree.

Annbank’s Sophie Girvan took over the ride on the seven-year-old Validate almost two years ago from her trainers Aileen Craig and Trevor Nicholson starting at 90cms then this summer qualifying for two finals at the Highland show before travelling further afield. A recent trip to Aintree resulted in some good double clears in a couple of 1.20 classes as well as a Grade C before travelling onto Northcote where they won a 1.20 and finished 7th in a Winter 1.25m.

Two sisters who have been consistent this summer are Leah and Olivia Coia from Houston, Renfrewshire.

Leah, who works with Active Schools rides the sixteen-year-old Condor III who came from Richard Duncan and has enjoyed a step down to jump the amateur classes winning a 1m championship at Muirmill and being placed well at SHOYS. They are qualified for the Aintree second rounds winning a 1.05m at Muirmill this month.

Olivia is a self-employed beautician who fits riding in around running her own business. She bought her seven-year-old Midora CM from Sandra Low Mitchell two years ago and is another to have qualified for Aintree currently winning or being placed at 1.10m level with the aim of trying some Foxhunter classes under the watchful eye of her trainer Douglas Duffin.

Douglas is being kept busy these days training from his base at Kirkton Equestrian with some of his pupils doing very well at the English Home Pony at Southview.

Gryffe High School pupil Lucy Capper(14) was on form with her reigning Scottish Indoor JA Champion Capability Brown who finished a strong third in the 148cms Grand Prix, helped collect a bronze medal as part of the 148cms Scottish team and is now qualified for the London International next month although a trip to Holland and Belgium is on the cards before then.

Sister Amy(11)only started riding the little grey Dooneens Electric at the start of the year but as they approach the end of 2023 they are the current Scottish Branch 128cms champions from Howe, part of the silver medal winning 128cms team then went on Southview to claim a thirty-three starter 128cms Grand Prix galloping over fences standing around 1.10m. This pair is also through to the London International Horse Show.

Joining her on the podium were teammates Jessica Brown, My Little Sweetheart, Lucas McArdle on Miss Charming and Xavier Eldridge on Buachaill Baire.

Youngest sibling Chloe, like Amy attends Houston Primary and they all ride their ponies most mornings before school with a couple of training sessions a week with Douglas. Chloe was successful in the 10 and Unders and a member of the team at Southview making for a very happy truck heading home.

Another family of successful show jumpers hailing from Edinburgh and matriarch Marjory McNaughton is Sandy McLean and his sisters Claire Leitch and Tracy Dow.

Claire and Tracy’s children are super keen with Tray’s daughter Lily riding the evergreen Red Flamenco winning at Murimill in an 80cms open before heading to Arena UK to be placed in classes up to 90cms.

Cousin Owen Leitch was on fire at Southview winning two qualifiers then a Future Minis Championship with Barracurry Jellybaby beating hot favourites from Ireland James Derwin.

Aberdeen’s Savannah Roper had a slow start to her year when she broke her foot but a new mount in the shape of Lux Little Lady has her back out and winning again beating ten other combinations in the jump off of the Novice championship and crediting trainer David Harland for all his help in the past few weeks this pair have been together.

Michael McColm was one of the busiest riders of the English Home Pony being selected for three teams adding two golds and a bronze to his ever-growing collection.

Micheal held his cool in the 138cms team to jump off for the final position with the exuberant little coloured AG Dynamo. Showing no signs of nerves his round was fast and clear giving teammates Gabriel Colquhoun on OOS Paris, Rebekka Sutherland with Myshall Duncan and Lucy Capper with Rathcoona James plenty to cheer about as well as their gold medals.

In the 148cms Debut team Michael had Legend SCAIS forward and along with teammate Anna Black on Moon Man posted a double clear. Joining them were Aimee Paxton on Eyre Dior Diva and Leva Eldridge with Farras Joli who recorded a four and a clear respectively over their rounds to ensure another top podium finish.

It didn’t quite go to plan in the 148cms team competition but what an atmosphere, team camaraderie and overall fun everyone from riders to parents, trainers and Chef D’Equipe Andrew Wilson has highlighted the lack of a Scottish Home pony team competition this year.

148 members Lucy Capper, Capability Brown, Micheal McColm this time on Tobar King, Aimee Paxton on Kengarth Sally Ann and Imogen Rome with Eden Ace had to settle for a Bronze this time being dominated by England and Ireland.

Imogen Rome may not have secured a gold at her final home pony but her mount Eden Ace flew around to capture the Southview Rising Stars Championship and will be sure to have a few more victories before he finds his new rider for 2024.

Lucy Watson has had a fabulous final year including a HOYS appearance but she too will be heading into seniors next year but not before she won another Foxhunter on her home-produced Millparks Goldie.