evening with international show jumper, Geoff Billington - laugh
Wednesday 14 March , 2007 at
Laugh, laugh, laugh ... that's what everyone did at the lecture/demonstration evening given by international show jumper Geoff Billington at Brackenhurst Equestrian Centre on Wednesday 14 March. This was another very popular evening in the Hoyland Event lecture / demonstration series. This time it was the turn of Geoff to entertain an audience of over 300 people with his unique and light hearted approach to show jumping.
Geoff originally from Accrington, Lancashire but now living in Nantwich over the border in Cheshire with his wife Julie and five children, is possibly best known through his partnership with his great horse It's Otto. During their career together they represented Great Britain in two Olympic Games, 1996 and 2000 and were also key members on many Nation Cup Teams. After It's Otto's retirement Geoff has been concentrating on novice horses and is now starting to be rewarded with some good results including third in the Hickstead Derby and also being on the winning Nations Cup Team in Bratislava.
Geoff started his career jumping at his local shows in Lancashire, it was at one of these shows that he met another young show jumper competing in the same class as him by the name of John Whitaker, Geoff quipped "he beat me then an' he's still beatin' me now!"
For the evening Geoff brought along three of his horses, a novice six year old Yobo who Geoff says has all the ingredients he just needs to "bake the cake!!" He demonstrated on Yobo showing how to prepare a young horse so that it is correctly balanced to jump fences. This is done by making them trot and canter over trotting poles and then a small jump gradually making the fence higher so as to make them careful. This Geoff said "makes them as careful as a nudist stepping over a barbed wire fence!!!"
After the laughter had died down Geoff continued on another of his horses the home bred 7 year old, Miss Osbourne (Sally). This horse is related to Tim Stockdale's well known Derby horse Wiston Bridget. Sally is a very strong horse, so for the evening's demonstration he was using some different training aids, this was just as well, as the photographer was to find out when Geoff cantered straight up to him, then stopped inches away, a look of sheer panic went across the photographer's face "Did yer see that?" Geoff said, he hardly flinched ! Not so for the student from Brackenhurst next to him who made a quick dash out the way, "never mind luv, it's better being a live chicken than a dead hero!!" Geoff quipped at the young lady.
Willing helpers for the evening were Geoff's son James and William Whitaker but for the most they were the butt for his many jokes. During the interval, they built a small Grand Prix course. Geoff attired in his team outfit walked the course and talked through each of the fences, the distances required, positioning and how to warm the horse up beforehand. Using Pedro his most promising young horse, he jumped a perfect round to which the audience clapped and cheered.
The one thing that really shone throughout the evening is that whilst Geoff is always the joker ... his riding style is not always the most stylish, he doesn't always talk technical terms and he is not a young twenty year old heartthrob ... but he is a very knowledgeable and talented rider who a lot of youngsters now a days could do with looking to for some good solid old fashioned advice. Oh, and if he ever gives up his day job, I don't think he should take up singing, his rendition of Solitaire left a lot to the imagination!!!!
To view photographs and a slide show of the event, visit www.jtpix.co.uk
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