Except from the show report published in issue 4, 2015. Written by Sandra Mitchell.
Last year I was with a fairly large group and we were able to watch Dee Russo’s gorgeous mare AngelUntil Dark as the home interest. This year  my own trainers were taking three horses, two of their own and one belonging to their client, and my friend, Ruth O’Reilly. I was only going for the last weekend so I needed them to make the finals so I would have something to watch.
Although the Deptfords have competed abroad before this was their first appearance at the European Championships and hopes were high. The other hot subject was that of the Swamp Fever or EquineInfectious Anaemia. After consulting their vet, the show’s vets and their client, it was decided that they were actually at less risk than they would have been before the infected horses had been dispatched. Both of which were well outside the recommended distance. All precautions were taken.
I needn’t have worried about having something to watch. Both competitor, horses and back up team (that would be Sarah) more than held their own. Ruth O’Reilly’s Poppet Smoked A Jay—Ozzie to his mates—went Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Gelding at Halter. He was also first under one judge and second under another in Aged Geldings at Halter and open finalist in Senior Ranch Horse where he came fifth plus further placings. Sovereign Quarter Horses’ Blazin Chic Olena was Reserve European Champion in FEQHA Performance Stallions at Halter, four times AQHA Reserve Champion Stallion at Halter, four seconds, and one third in AQHA Performance Stallions at Halter.
So far, so good. Then came Heir To A Jay (Leo). This horse is a culmination of a thirty plus year breeding program and a lot more than David Deptford was riding on this young fellows back. He is royally bred by Jays Smokin Story out of Miss Star N Snips. He carries the blood of Snippers Heirogance, Colonel Freckles, Mr Gunsmoke, and Hobby Doc. He made it to the Junior Ranch Riding final.
Although we were both in Brits Corner Sarah sat on one bank of seats and I diagonally across from her in another. Neither wanted to be near the other in case anything went wrong.
In he came, walking well, around the corner and lost a back leg, my heart lurched but he didn’t break. The rest of the pattern was a smooth blur; his extended jog was sublime as was his pole work. Fast walk after the poles, don’t forget to back up—he didn’t. I had written all the previous scores down and was listening hard for his, it came and it was the highest.
I stood and clapped and cried. Sarah beckoned me over and said in the smallest voice I have ever heard: “Did I hear that right?” She had and we cried some more.
David Deptford and Heir To A Jay, owned by Eleanor Deptford, European Junior Ranch Riding Champion 2015. It was the first time that the British National Anthem had been played since 2010. What a result!
It was a great show. See the interview with Judge Karen McCuistion to hear more. Having felt all of that emotion and how wonderful it was I wish I had gone to support the guys in Paris, Aachen, or anywhere to support our Brits. It made me feel so proud I thought my heart would burst.
Read the full show report in Issue 4, 2015.