When Alkan Dervish rides into the Caldene Arena at HOYS on Sunday morning, it will be the culmination of a five-year journey with her horse, Chorleys A Touch Of Class.
“I bought him from Terry Clynes five years ago to do intermediate show riding type classes with,” recalls Dervish, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester. “But he outgrew them, so we ended up doing riding horse classes, which are very hard to compete in at my age and being home-produced.
“Every year, ‘Derek’ seems to injure himself — it’s his tradition — so we never seemed to get going. Last year I was pregnant so I gave hime to a friend to look after, which was a hard decision as I don’t really like anyone having him. Then they told me they’d had to call the vet out to him and he could never be ridden again.”
Heartbroken, Dervish took the horse back, just four weeks before she gave birth to daughter Sofia (October 2014). She took Derek to her local vet and he was gradually brought back into work.
“Then, in March this year, we were ready for our first show of the season, the BSPS Winter Championships, and I was hoping to get our Royal International ticket. Surprise, surprise Derek became ill once again and was out of work for another three months.”
Despite this setback, Dervish persevered and she and Derek managed another two shows.
“Then I thought, why not just take him to the BSHA Championships [in September] as it’s my favourite show and at least I haven’t missed another season on him,” recalls Dervish. “Our HOYS qualifier was on the first morning of the show and I was standing outside the ring looking at all the beautiful horses going in the large riding horse class. I thought I had no chance, because you never hear many home-produced people who get their HOYS tickets all by themselves.
“When I found out I had actually qualified, I was so in shock that I was trying not to cry in the ring. It was so amazing to know that over the past five years, after all the knock-backs and all the people telling me to give up on him, we have proved them all wrong and finally qualified for HOYS. Derek is my horse of a lifetime and he will stay with me forever.”
Dervish is very excited to be competing at HOYS, but I suspect she won’t mind too much if she’s not placed — getting there with her horse of a lifetime is a major achievement.