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Kingsbridge Show's Chief Horse Steward retires after four decades

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Kingsbridge Show's Chief Horse Steward retires after four decades

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Kingsbridge Show will never be quite the same again, as Lesley Freeman retires after four decades as Chief Horse Steward. 

Lesley has a long history with the show, competing herself as a child, arriving in her family’s pony and trap, and for the last 40(ish) years she has run the horse section with the support of friends and family. 

Lesley Freeman

After half a lifetime of giving up her week off to help run the show, she is now looking forward to taking a step back and enjoying the event as a spectator. 

“I will really miss working with friends, judges and all the competitors”, Lesley explained, “and I will miss being part of something like this. Kingsbridge Show day has been such a big part of my life but I will enjoy the free time! 

“I’ve watched competitors come back year after year and now bring their children with their ponies, and I’ve seen horses come through as foals and then as yearlings and two-year-olds, all the way through their lives, it has been so nice to see them grow up.”

Lesley and Gidget, Micheal Moysey and Minstral, Vicky Brooks and Tonto with Mrs Moss

Lesley has, along with her small team, organised the classes, jumps, rosettes, cups and sponsors for the event and it ran like clockwork. 

Back when Lesley first started, she remembers working with John Bond to collect the jumps, assemble them, create the course, run the section on show day and then take them all down and put them back into storage. In fact, one year when there wasn’t a fence post rammer available, they put in 240 stakes with a sledgehammer just in time! 

She worked closely with the late Peter Stacy, a steadfast member of Kingsbridge Show, who not only designed the jumping course but made the showjumping and working hunter jumps. The committee named the jumping ring the Peter Stacy arena in his honour.  

Lesley, Sally, Di and Bronco

One of Lesley’s proudest moments as Chief Horse Steward was when she was running her riding centre in Malborough and in the Open Jumping class the first six places were kids she had taught. 

She always made sure the children enjoyed themselves too, and had extra rosettes on hand to make sure everyone and their ponies came away with something - Kingsbridge Show is a friendly, family event at heart and that is what brings people back year on year. 

She thanked everyone who has supported her over the years, especially Anita McCoy who commentated on the horse section, Jo Lapthorn and Jackie and Lisa Parrott. 

Jackie Parrott said: “Lesley was the face of Kingsbridge Show’s horse section for many years. Her experience, hard work and dedication cannot be underestimated and she deserves a well earned rest!” 

The Chief Horse Steward job has now fallen to Louise Wellington Sharpe who wished Lesley “every happiness in her retirement”. She said: “Lesley has done an incredible job over the last 40 years, it is a voluntary job and she has been amazing. 

“I don’t think we will realise how much she did until she’s not there to do it anymore. 

“But we will still have an amazing show, horses are coming back to the main ring and heavy horses will be here for the first time in years. We hope everyone really enjoys themselves on the day!” 

Keep an eye out for our article about upcoming Kingsbridge Show - taking place on 2 September! You can get pre-booked tickets HERE


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