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Talking to Ibby Macpherson


Horse Scout are Talking to Ibby Macpherson, International Event Rider, Northamptonshire

If you haven’t heard of Ibby Macpherson, it’s only a matter of time… A talented event rider who recently finished 5th at Branham CCI***, she tells Horse Scout why William Fox Pitt gave her a top horse, why she spent her inheritance money on a hydrotherapy spa and why she’s launched a new innovative event horse syndicate opportunity.

How did you learn to ride?

I think it was on a sheep! My parents owned a pedigree black sheep farm in Scotland.

Have you worked for anyone famous?

After competing in the Junior Europeans in 1999 and 2000, a few years later I became stable jockey for William Fox Pitt and his team. William, Alice and Granny Potts (William’s long-time head girl) are fantastic to work for, and they are still great friends today. I was lucky enough to school and jump all of the horses when William wasn’t at home and competed some of his young horses.

And William Fox Pitt gave you a horse?

Yes, I am incredibly lucky to have been given Igor De Cluis who was 8th at Le Lion D’Angers as a seven-year-old with William. I could never have afforded such a top class horse but he didn’t stand up to the pressure — soundness wise — at that level with William. I am eternally grateful to Judy and Jeremy Skinner and Margie and David Hall who owned him and gave me the opportunity. I had to be really fussy where I ran him, and made sure that he had hydrotherapy once or twice a day to keep him on the road, but he took me around a few three star events including Blenheim and Boekelo.

So tell us about your top horses now.

I don’t have many horses at the moment but the ones I do have are competitive at their relevant levels.

Ballingowan Diamond (Monty) is a 12-year-old, 16.2hh chestnut gelding (Welcome Diamond out of Phardante mare) with 329 BE points. Monte came fifth at the CCI*** Bramham this year; fourth in the CIC*** at Chatsworth 2016; and third at Hartpury CIC*** in 2015. I’m aiming him at either Burghley or Blenheim this autumn and hopefully Badminton in spring 2017.

Ballingowan Echo is another 12-year-old who is equally as talented but frustratingly we have had a few silly blips and his personality is very different… a bit more complex…. He has been quite competitive and won a few OIs. I’d like to take him around a CIC three star at the end of this year.

Evantos K is a 16.3hh seven-year-old gelding that I’ve had since he was four having bought him from Claire Robertson at Retreat Farm Stud. He has got it all… He’s a fantastic mover and a really scopey jumper. He’s Dutch with around 48% thoroughbred in him, so I think he has enough blood… I’m excited about him, but he is big and weak and is going to take time to mature and strengthen up. He has won four novices and was second in the CIC* at Rockingham. He was really good in his first intermediate at Aston but he is going to have a couple of months’ training at home aiming for hopefully Osberton seven-year-old CIC**.

Deoch an Doris. Doris is a very special to me! He is 13-year-old 16.1hh black gelding with a very big sense of humour. He’ll be with me for life — he was given to me by Jock Mcfarlane whose wife Mary trained me for a long time when I lived in Scotland. Doris was her dressage horse and after a long battle with cancer Mary sadly died. He is very naughty sometimes in the dressage arena adding some freestyle moves here and there but he is an incredibly powerful jumper with a fabulous technique. He’s 13 now but it’s taken his body time to adjust from being ridden on a surface to galloping and jumping on grass. He is a much admired ‘pocket rocket’ and I there is a lot to come!

Fread Needle is a 16.3hh five-year old gelding. He is out of Golden Needle by Bollin Terry, bred by my sister Rose and has done some BE100s this year, coming third at one. I don’t like doing lots with four and five-year-olds… I believe that quite a few horses don’t reach their full potential because they are pushed too young and their brains and/or bodies can’t cope with it. I’d rather they were slower starters and did more later on in life.

So do you compete any horses that you don’t own?

Yes, Dungeon Hill is a 16.3hh nine-year old gelding that I ride for Fee Wilson, in Dorset. I have a couple of spaces for some more horses to ride, but want to fill them with the right ones!!

What’s the aim of your new scheme, the Picnic Partnership?

I’m lucky because I own some lovely horses, but I cannot afford to keep and compete them all without some support. This new initiative not only helps me keep competing my horses, but it also enables people to get involved in the sport without committing to vast amounts of money and unexpected expenses. The initiative — which costs £400pp a month — enables members to have an interest in four horses from BE100 to four star (CCI****). They can come and watch training sessions and support us at competitions. I have a catering company which supplies a picnic for every event members go to — with wine! It’s a great opportunity because with four horses at various levels, there’s always something going on and it’s a fantastic chance to visit some fabulous venues throughout Britain.

Who do you train with?

Nigel Taylor and Fred Bergendorff (jumping); Andrew Fletcher and Hillary Westropp (flat); John Pitt helps as a performance manager; and Danielle Olding is a sports psychologist/life coach whom I find really helpful. I also do lots of Pilates with Tina Sheridon — it’s really helped to strengthen my riding over the last year making me more aware of my posture.

How do you keep your horses sound and happy? 

In terms of soundness, they all go in the hydrotherapy spa regularly as I have one here on site (I run an equine hydrotherapy spa business — see next week’s blog) and they’re also taken to a nearby water treadmill once a week which I think is very beneficial for their core strength and keeping them supple without putting pressure on their limbs. I’m also a firm believer in the Activo-Med range, particularly the pulse electromagnet massage therapy rug. My horses all live out at night from mid-March until the beginning of November (weather dependent). I think this is a good way to keep them happy in their heads and the constant movement maintains the suppleness in their bodies. I think it also helps to alleviate problems like gastric ulcers.

Why Horse Scout?

The horse sales side of it is clever but it’s also a very exciting equestrian initiative enabling industry networking at the highest level.
Interview by Sam Lewis

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