Friday 26th of May 2023
Pro Secrets

Willa Newton

At 26, Willa Newton is one of the most talented young riders to emerge in the sport of eventing. An incredible season has resulted in an impressive and well-deserved trophy haul.  We caught up with Willa to find out about her inspirations, superstitions and plans for 2017.


When & how were you first introduced to riding?

My father took me out on a pony when I was very little. Both my parents rode, my father pointed, hunted and played polo and my mother competed to Intermediate level and also pointed. Horses have been part of the family for as long as I can remember.

Was it love from the outset?

Definitely!  Hunting got me going and invariably either my sister or I would come back crying but it never put us off! My sister competed at Badminton and Burghley and still hunts. It was her horse, Newmarket Vasco One, who I took to Burghley last year and very sadly he’s no longer with us. Also the Pony Club really got me properly hooked. It was always such fun and I can’t recommend it enough. But…keep doing your tests! I think I stopped at D+ and it does hold you back when you are at my stage and want to teach so stick with them!

When did you get your first big break?

In my Pony Club days with the Belvoir Hunt, the Championships and Area competitions were the ones to aim for but I think being selected for the Juniors and Young Riders was my first real break although it has taken a while since then to get where I am today.

What or who inspires you to do what you do?

Pippa Funnell always inspired me as a child but lately, having trained with Bettina Hoy and Dirk Schrade, they are who I aspire to be like.


How many horses do you event?

Last season we had 12 eventers in work!

What are you looking for in an eventer?

A good brain and a horse that wants to work with you!

Best ever horse or pony?

Duncan, a 14.2 dun hunting pony, who was bombproof. Chloe, my sister, had him first then I was lucky enough to ride him. He was always found at the end of the hunt no matter what!!

What can’t you live without?

Anything sweet! I’m a real sucker for biscuits/sweets/ chocolate – the perfect athletes diet!

Who do you call the most?

Janet, my head girl. I think I am her worst nightmare but she keeps everything in check – I am very lucky!


Where’s the best place to party?

If I can ever get to one it has to be a festival! I went to Glastonbury a couple of years ago which was the best!

Favourite place to play?

I love going to London to see my school/uni friends! Most of them are not horsey at all so it’s great to do something different and get away from it all.

What is your most indispensable piece of kit?

My Devoucoux saddles. I now ride in a double flap saddle and it really helps me out!

If it wasn’t for riding what would you be doing with your life?

I think I’d struggle with an office job as I’m pretty active but hopefully putting my business management degrees to good use!

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be a good dancer!

Do you have any superstitions?

Saluting magpies and I get very excited when a black cat crosses the road in front of me!


How do you relax?

I love a good series and I am massive fan of catch up TV!!

What would your perfect weekend involve?

In the winter, the dream is a big days’ hunting followed by a fun dinner at home or going out with friends and then a chilled Sunday. Although there’s no competitions we still like to keep it pretty hectic!

What do you miss most when you’re away from home?

We seem to take most of it with us when we head away and like to make the lorry pretty cosy!


What is your greatest achievement?

That’s tough! Winning the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials 8/9 Year Old Championship this year or individual silver and team gold at the Young Rider Europeans.

What’s the next big goal?

A senior championships and I would love to win a three day event!

Read Willa’s latest blog for The Gaitpost here

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