Ellen Clifford Wins Young Handlers at Bandon Show

Ellen Clifford, a young and passionate equestrian, made waves at the Bandon Show with her impressive performance in the Young Handlers class. Starting her showing journey in 2022, Ellen’s dedication and hard work paid off, leading her to a remarkable victory. We spoke with Ellen about her experiences, challenges, and aspirations.

A New Journey in Showing

Ellen’s entry into the world of showing began just a couple of years ago. “My name’s Ellen Clifford. I got into showing in 2022 when I got an offer to ride my friend’s pony. Then, in 2023, I bought my current pony and decided to bring him showing to get him used to the show environment,” she shared. This early experience laid the foundation for her future successes.

Preparing for Young Handlers Class

Preparation for the Young Handlers class involved ensuring her horse looked his best. “The horse I had in the class has always been good in hand, so I didn’t need to do much prep in that sense. On the day, I had to wash him, plait him, and get him looking show ring ready,” Ellen explained. Her attention to detail paid off, helping her stand out in the competition.

Emotions During the Competition

Ellen entered the competition with a relaxed mindset. “I went in with zero expectations as we were rushing between two classes. I was just happy to be able to compete, and if we won any kind of rosette, it was a bonus,” she said. This approach allowed her to enjoy the experience without the pressure of high expectations.

Winning Moment

The announcement of her victory was a moment of disbelief and joy. “I couldn’t believe it when we were announced the winner as we were up against some very good handlers and very nice horses,” Ellen recounted. This win was a testament to her skills and the bond she shares with her horse.

Meet Mayo Lad

Ellen’s winning partner in the Young Handlers class was Mayo Lad, a five-year-old horse with an exceptional temperament. “The horse I had entered was Mayo Lad, a five-year-old. We aren’t 100% sure what his breeding is; he is owned by the O’Donoghue’s. He is a lovely horse to ride and has an amazing temperament,” she described. Mayo Lad’s qualities made him a standout in the ring.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

One of the significant challenges Ellen faced was managing her time effectively. “Time was one of the biggest challenges as I have another pony to ride, and the weather has been so up and down lately,” she noted. To overcome this, Ellen maximised her riding time whenever possible. “I would just try to ride as much as I could, and now that the weather is starting to pick up, I’ll have a lot more time to be riding,” she added.

Goals for the Year

Ellen has set clear goals for herself and Mayo Lad. “With him, it’s just to have a bit of fun and do some agricultural shows, maybe a little bit of showjumping too. But my own goals this year are to qualify for Dublin with my 148 in junior equitation, and we will also have a go at the small hunter 4/5-year-old class as we had quite a successful year last year in the show Hunter classes,” she shared. These goals reflect her ambition and commitment to her equestrian career.

Future Competitions

Planning for future shows is part of Ellen’s busy schedule. “It’s quite hard to plan with him as we are so busy with showjumping, but I think we might try to aim for Clon show in a few weeks,” she said. Balancing multiple disciplines requires careful planning and dedication.

Advice for Aspiring Young Handlers

Ellen’s advice to other young handlers is practical and encouraging. “My advice would be to watch a few in-hand classes first and see what you need to do. Then, when you’re in the class, just have fun—the judges are lovely!” she emphasized. This approach helps newcomers feel confident and enjoy the experience.

Mentors and Valuable Lessons

Ellen has been fortunate to receive support from experienced mentors. “I have been very lucky to be at such a lovely yard with some lovely people, but I would have to say Claire O’Rourke. She has taught me so much when it comes to riding and producing ponies and has supported me so much!” she shared. The guidance from mentors like Claire has been invaluable in her journey.

Essential Qualities for Showing

In Ellen’s opinion, being adaptable is crucial for success in showing. “Good at thinking on the spot—you never know what could happen on the day or in the class,” she said. This ability to stay calm and handle unexpected situations is essential for any handler.

Hopes for Equestrian Community

Ellen hopes to see more inclusive classes in the equestrian community. “I would love to see a few more classes for people who just want to have a bit of fun,” she suggested. Additionally, she believes that expanding opportunities for young handlers would benefit the sport. “I think they should add more young handler classes at shows, especially in the pony sections,” she added.

Follow Ellen’s Journey

For those interested in following Ellen’s equestrian journey, she can be found on Instagram at @ellenclifford04.

Ellen Clifford’s journey in the equestrian world is marked by determination, adaptability, and a supportive community. Her success at the Bandon Show is just the beginning of what promises to be a bright future in showing. With her goals set high and her dedication unwavering, Ellen is a rising star to watch.


Ellen Clifford Wins Young Handlers at Bandon Show

Sign Up To Ireland’s First Ever Grassroots Equine Magazine!

Written by Grassroots Members for Grassroots Members!!

Your subscription is 100% Free for our first year, No credit card details required.