Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 10°C

Search

How did a dream come true for Roberta and wildboy Jasper?

PUBLISHED: 16:03 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:33 08 November 2017

Complete trust: Roberta and Jasper in action. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY

Complete trust: Roberta and Jasper in action. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY

Archant

Woodbridge pairing in Search for a Star final at Horse of the Year Show

It's true. We were there! Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES It's true. We were there! Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES

Success means the most when it’s the result of an adventure, together. Of days working in wind and sun and rain. Of ups and downs. And, through it all, a mutual trust grows. That’s why the triumphs taste so sweet.

It’s how it’s been for Roberta Bradby and Neutrino, better known as Jasper. She got him when he was two years old – halter-broken, having been led a little on the rein but “wild, basically”. One of those horses that’s always going to be a touch highly strung and prone to a rush of blood.

Six years or so later, though, he’s appearing before the crowds at the Horse of the Year Show: walking, trotting and cantering gracefully as one of only 10 horses in the Search for a Star final designed to give amateur riders a chance to shine.

They’re also ridden by a judge, who is looking for a willing attitude, nice outline, manners and other attributes.

No wonder Roberta was thrilled, and a tad emotional, after leaving the arena at the NEC in Birmingham.

Jasper looks at the certificate marking his big day. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY Jasper looks at the certificate marking his big day. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY

“I tried not to cry too much,” says the 26-year-old. “I held it together until I came out of the ring, and then, walking back down with my mum, she said ‘That’s absolutely incredible’, and I started blubbing.

“Having known where my horse ‘came from’ and how silly he could be, and now feeling he would do anything for me, I’m obviously proud of myself but I feel so proud for him.”

The 15-hand chestnut was placed fifth out of 10 – a great thrill for his owner.

“When I got him, I never expected him to go to HOYS (Horse of the Year Show). People go out and spend hundreds of pounds to qualify. He was just a really nice horse that happened to fall into my hands. To end up getting there is just incredible. He’s been such a star this year.”

Not that it’s always been plain sailing... “I swear he had a vendetta to ruin my face!”

A rider and her horse, out in Suffolk. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY A rider and her horse, out in Suffolk. Picture: ROBERTA BRADBY

Pardon? “He’s knocked both my front teeth out, and chipped my bottom teeth.”

This was early in 2014, while out hacking. A pheasant flew suddenly out of a bush and frightened the horse being ridden by Roberta’s mum Jo – which in turn scared the living daylights out of Jasper, easily spooked.

“My horse shot round. I went straight down his shoulder and stupidly kept hold of the reins. I got pulled round and kind of head-butted against his back legs and then went straight into the ground. I broke my nose; I had two black eyes. I don’t even know if he caught me with his hoof or if I hit my chin on something.

“I think I’d been with my boyfriend about a year and remember ringing him up and saying ‘My face is ruined!’ Five-hundred-pounds later in dental work, I now have my teeth back!”

At another show, Jasper smacked Roberta in the head and left her with two thick lips.

TwoHearts: Roberta and Jasper at the Horse of the Year Show. Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES TwoHearts: Roberta and Jasper at the Horse of the Year Show. Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES

“He wasn’t the easiest of chaps,” she smiles. “Because he is a highly-strung horse, it’s in his blood. This year he’s come out of himself completely. He’s got into big finals. He’s got into evening performances where there are hundreds of people, the atmosphere is really buzzing, you’ve got spotlights, you’ve got music, and he’s taken it in his stride.

“It sounds so clichéd, but I really do feel like this year it’s ‘Right, mum, I understand what I’ve got to do. I trust you. You won’t put me in any situation that’s scary. You want me to do that? Let’s do it.’ I’m very proud of my little boy!”

Jasper went beautifully at the Search for a Star qualifier near St Neots in June – on perhaps the hottest day of the year – and came first out of 26.

Two competitions proved great warm-ups for the NEC. At Equifest, in Peterborough, he won two classes and other honours. At the British Show Horse Association National Championship in Buckinghamshire he jumped well in awful rain that saw Roberta’s soaked jacket dye two pairs of jodhpurs. He was Grass Roots Supreme Champion.

On the day big day, it seemed Roberta was more affected by nerves than Jasper! She needn’t have fretted. “It sounds corny, but I always remember the Olympics and they (world governing body the Fédération Equestre Internationale) hash-tagged TwoHearts – because you’ve got the heart of the horse and the heart of the rider. And it is true. If you don’t work together, you won’t get anywhere. They’ve got to trust you and they’ve got to be happy.

Can't believe we're here... Roberta and Jasper at the NEC. Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES Can't believe we're here... Roberta and Jasper at the NEC. Picture: 1ST CLASS IMAGES

“I’m so proud of him.”

Roberta and her family moved from London to Suffolk when she was 18 months old. She lives with mum Jo and dad Bill near Woodbridge. Jo is an enthusiast and Roberta had a pony from about two and a half.

Summers are devoted to UK horse shows. ‘I haven’t been abroad since I was nine.’

She’s usually up at 5.30am each day and riding by about 6.15am. Then it’s a quick shower, ‘attempt to make myself look presentable’, and on to work in advertising sales with Archant, publisher of this website, newspapers and magazines. After work, there are more tasks at the stables.

Boyfriend Sam, on the groundstaff at Ipswich Town, is not ‘horsey’ but is a great supporter.

During the winter, Roberta will be working for her HGV licence so she can share the load with mum on their travels.

Riding from a young age has taught her about overcoming disappointment, dealing confidently with adults, and making friends.

‘I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t been brought up with horses. Sounds really lame, doesn’t it, but it is true.’

Comments have been disabled on this article.

A “beautiful and intelligent” young woman died after taking MDMA at a music festival in a tragic accident, an inquest heard.

A £6.4 million investment will see acute hospital services in Colchester brought together on the same site next year for the first time ever.

The jury in the trial of a former army cook accused of committing a string of sex offences while he was living in Colchester, Germany and Northern Ireland over a period of more than a decade is expected to retire to consider its verdicts tomorrow.

We have had a mild but damp start to the week in Suffolk and north Essex with temperatures set to get cooler - but will we see any snow?

An angry Ipswich father whose newsagents was targeted by thieves twice in just two days has criticised police for their response and says he feels let down by the law.

A former East Anglian Daily Times journalist who in a long career also worked widely in Africa, New York and London has died at the age of 88.

The Christmas countdown has begun, there are only 34 sleeps to go - but are we festive too soon? We asked people in Ipswich what they thought.

Most read

Eating Out in the Broads

cover

Click here to view
the Eating Out
supplement

View

Visit the Broads

cover

Click here to view
the Visit the Broads
supplement

View

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24