This week’s World Equestrian Center – Ocala Sunday Spotlight shines on talented young rider, Gwyneth Babington. Babington joined us from Wellington, FL where her family farm is based. Raised in the horse show life, Gwyneth has followed in her father, Irish Olympian Kevin Babington and mother, Dianna Babington’s footsteps, working together on the farm and in the arena. Gwyneth is one of the younger FEI riders showing at World Equestrian Center – Ocala’s inaugural week of FEI show jumping competition. We caught up with her to learn more about the horses she is currently competing.
WEC: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was riding before I could even walk. I started out in the pony divisions, when I grew in my skills, I moved to the jumper ring. I had opportunities to ride jumpers, hunters and equitation horses through catch rides. I would ride everything and anything that I could, but my main focus was the jumpers.
Val Renihan, the owner of Findlay’s Ridge LLC was my equitation trainer. She gave me so many amazing opportunities in the hunter/eq ring that really helped develop my riding.
This is my first year after my junior career. My goal is to continue to learn, grow and ride as much as possible. I still catch ride some hunters, but you’ll mainly see me in the jumper ring.
WEC: Tell us about the horse you brought for the inaugural FEI show jumping competition at WEC?
I brought Flinstering. I am unbelievably lucky to be able to ride him. He is owned by Ernst Hofschröer and was ridden by Michael Whitaker, who won a three-star grand prix on him in Europe. They decided to sell him and thought he would be suitable for an American market.
He has an incredible jump, and he is so much fun to ride. It is such an amazing learning experience for me, and I am so grateful to be able to compete such an amazing horse at shows like this.
WEC: What other horses did you bring this week?
We brought 16 horses. Most of them are client horses, we have been running around like crazy. I’ve ridden a few in some classes then I brought my dad’s horse, Mark Q and a six-year-old, Gunpowder.
Mark Q is 20 years old now, so I just save him to do the national grands prix. He has taught me so much and I love riding him.
My six-year-old jumper, Gunpowder, I have been competing in the young jumpers. He is incredible. We got two seconds this week and he is really coming into his own.
WEC: Are there similarities between Mark Q and Flinstering when it comes to riding?
It’s hard to compare riding anyone else to “Q” because he’s just a character. I think the biggest difference is Q is the type of horse who needs a lot of leg across the oxers. He’s an older horse so you have to ride the scope into him.
Flinstering is younger and has a lot of natural scope. I am able to give him more space at the jumps and it’s a much different feeling.
They are both very talented horses and I enjoy riding both of them!
WEC: Is this your first time at World Equestrian Center – Ocala?
I came when it first opened and only had the chance to ride in the Grand Arena for a few days. Now that I have gotten to see the entire facility, it is incredible. It’s so hot in Florida during the summer, it is amazing to have cool barns and air conditioned indoors. I love it and I know the horses appreciate it too.
Everyone that works here, is so nice and welcoming. It is such a great horse show environment and atmosphere. We can’t wait to come back!
Thank you Gwyneth for taking the time to chat with us. We can’t wait to have you back!