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teenager

Showjumping is in this family’s DNA – meet Rosie Pyle

(this article was first published in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald on October 17 2013, this content may be slightly longer due to the newspaper editing process)

TALENTED horsewomen Rosie and Sam Pyle have an exciting personal challenge ahead of them  – the mother and daughter are about to go head-to-head in their first national competition together.

Rosie, who’s 14 and a student at Malmesbury School, is a rising star in British Show jumping and is following in the footsteps of her mum Sam, 46, who has also had an impressive career in the sport.

Next month, they’ll be taking part in the Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships 2013 at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre in Liverpool. They’ve both qualified for the 90 cm class.

“My aim is to be better than my mum,” the teenager joked when we met at the family home in Sherston.

In spite of the joking, there’s no doubt this young woman has a bright future ahead of her. In the last year, her competitive spirit has taken her to more national events than ever before and her sights are now set very high.

“I want to be able to jump at the Horse of the Year Show just as my mum did – I even want to try for the Olympics. I was inspired by London 2012. Just watching everything and feeling the atmosphere, it just looks like an amazing experience and the thought of jumping for my country – that would be really good.”

 

Rosie & Saint are riding high - and hoping for more!

Rosie & Saint are riding high – and hoping for more!

 

She’s also very clear about who inspires this ambition.

“My hero is my mum. I admire her because she had an amazing career with horses and, because her family didn’t have the money to buy the most expensive horses, they bred their own. She followed in her own mum’s footsteps and I want to follow in her’s.

“My granddad tells me stories about mum’s career, often around the travelling, the friendships and the adventures and it just sounds so much fun. Mum is still friends with many of the people she jumped with and I want that too.”

Most recently, Rosie was awarded the NAF Shining Star Award for her work as a member of the British Show jumping Wiltshire Junior Academy. She was nominated in September by coach Nicky Florence.

Nicky said: “Rosie is a pleasure to coach is always immaculately turned out at both shows and training. Her riding has gone from strength to strength as she is very understanding of her horse at all times and she always listens attentively to any advice she is given.”

At home, the Pyles’ family life revolves around horses. They have three of their own who all require daily care and exercising, as well as travelling nationwide to compete. Behind it all, Sam works as an estate officer at Charlton Park and dad James, runs his own independent estate agency James Pyle & Co.

Sam was brought up around horses – her dad Bob Rumble bred horses and her late mum was also an accomplished rider. Bob has already bred Rosie’s next horse, Hunny, who will be suitable to ride competitively in a few years.

Mum Sam said: “Horses are in my blood, I was brought up with horses and its second nature to me. I’ve not been a pushy mum but have always hoped that my girls would enjoy riding as much as I have.”

Sam describes her career in show jumping very modestly. She worked as a professional rider for ten years on the national circuit and competed in the Horse of the Year show. Given her background, it’s hardly surprising that her first child was on horseback from an astonishing early age.

“I would put Rosie in a saddle basket on the back of Didi and lead her when I was walking the dog. It was the easiest way and I did this from about six months old.”

Rosie first memory is, however, rather different.

“My earliest memory of riding is actually of falling off. I was riding my pony Thomas in a field with Dad leading and I fell off, I fell right next to a stone and remember crying because I’d been close to hitting the stone! I was probably about six.

“I also remember going to try my new pony Tommy and sitting on him and feeling really scared because he seemed so much bigger than Thomas. But I soon realized he was easier and I thought I could jump with him.”

Rosie’s life with horses is charted by the names of all who have played a role in her life so far – from Didi, to Thomas, to Tommy, to Gamble, to Ted and now Saint. Sister Katie, who’s 11, is now riding Ted as she begins her career on horseback.

Horses even play a role in her school life as Rosie is a member of the school equestrian team where she competes with her teammates Evie Dyer and Kirsty Poulton.

None of this though, comes cheap. Looking after three horses and travelling around the country is an expensive business. It’s a full-time family commitment to keep the sporting spirit strong within the home.

“I work at Charlton Park,” said Sam. “My job pays for the horses and to cover our costs as much as possible. James supports us all too, in fact we all support each other in any competitions we take part in.”

They did admit though dad James and granddad Bob often sneak off at the weekends to indulge their own secret pastime – boules!

 

Racism in schools today – does it happen? What do you think?

Racism has been on my mind this week for three reasons.

One I’m making a film for broadcast which, by its nature, brings up issues of racism. The film is not about racism but the subject matter means that it’s inevitable that it’s discussed during filmed interviews.

There was also the case of footballer John Terry where he was found not guilty by a magistrate. That too made me think. And we’ll hear more on that one as he’s also subject to a further investigation which doesn’t require the overwhelming burden of proof that the criminal court demands.

So imagine these things are spinning around in my space.

Then the third thing happened – racism walked through my door.

One of my children was talking with a friend, who doesn’t go to the same school. Indeed, this child’s parents were so anxious to give their child the best possible education they sent her to school miles and miles away. This child doesn’t have white skin, though I’ve never even considered that to be relevant to anything.

This child is beautiful, intelligent, a positive influence who has brought my family into contact with a new culture, new beliefs and has generally enriched our lives.

But she is suffering racism at school – it’s bullying with a ‘black’ tag and it’s something she’s never experienced before. It appears she got into spat with a child who had been a friend and it’s escalated, involving other voices and messages on Facebook and texts which involve racist comments.

This child appears at a loss to know what to do, we’re not even sure she’s told her parents. We feel that this is because the family have sacrificed much to send her to this school and she doesn’t want to let them down. In her primary school life this child didn’t have any moments like this so it’s come as a real shock.

And it came as a shock to me. I’m amazed by how terribly angry I feel and how impotent. What can I do? I don’t know her parents well enough to go around and tell them what’s going on – my child will feel like I’m betraying a trust.  Something that needed to be discussed with me in confidence. I don’t know the name of the school.

But my anger is this – why would any child think it’s okay to do that? If my child did anything like that there would be such serious consequences at home – no phone, no tv, all rewards removed until earned through respect. And what about that school? What action would be taking if it was drawn to their attention?

Would they call in parents and then the police? Or will they gently talk through it, chat to the children concerned and hope it all goes away. What’s the betting it’s the latter.

There are no easy answers to this but we must make it clear that it’s utterly intolerable. A teenager today should not have to spend even one second of their life worrying about a racist slur.

What would you do?

Life isn't black or white....

 

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