Although at the beginning of her career as a professional event rider, rising star Willa has her sights set firmly on Tokyo 2020.
She is based at her parent’s yard at Stonesby, near Melton Mowbray. Willa comes from a family with a strong equestrian background, her father Joey won the Aintree foxhunters twice and her mother, Emma evented up to intermediate level and then going on to point to point. Willa’s sister Chloe also evented up to four star before opting for a career change.
Willa has ridden for as long as she can remember, hunting avidly as well as being a keen member of the Belvoir Hunt Pony Club. Willa followed in her sisters footsteps of choosing to event through ponies but sadly became too tall and moved on to horses when she was 16.
It was 2006 when Willa’s eventing really began to kick off, having acquired Neelix from Andrew Heffernan. Neelix took Willa from the Pony Club Championships to her first CCI four star. That combination won team gold at the Junior Europeans in 2008 and represented Great Britain at three consecutive Young Rider European Championships winning Team Gold and Individual Silver at Blair Castle in 2011.
From there, Willa’s career has gone from strength to strength. Since finishing University in 2012 Willa has focused solely on eventing. Willa has taken time to undertake training each winter, in the UK and overseas, with top riders including Dirk Schrade and Bettina Hoy, to sharpen her skills and further her career. She has also taken time to source and produce quality young horses and the results shone through in 2016, when she took the 8/9 year old National Championships at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (Caja 20) and the 7 year old National Championships at Osberton (Lauries Laudatio).
Willa was invited to participate in the Event Rider Masters series on more than one occasion in 2016 and produced consistent results across the board. In 2017 Willa was announced as one of thirteen riders to be longlisted for the British team to compete at the European Eventing Championships in Poland.
Although Willa’s 2018 season was marred with a broken collarbone, she had a fantastic season with many notable results. Whilst bringing on a string of young horses who experienced numerous successes, Willa posted top results at some of the toughest competitions, these included; fifth at Lumuhlen CCI4* with Chance Remark who then later placed eighth at Burghley CCI4*, which was very special for Willa as it is her local event and she has been going to for as long as she can remember! Moonlight Dance S finished ninth at Blenheim 8/9YO CIC3*.
Looking forward to 2019, Willa will be aiming for Badminton in the Spring with Chance Remark if all goes to plan. Moonlight Dance S will look towards a Spring CCI4*-L and she also has some lovely young horses to produce which she is very excited about.