Age is just a number at Summer Regionals

Mark Walters and the amazing veteran gelding Ice Blue Valentino (Harlem x Rimea) won the Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold with a brilliant score of 68.09%.

At 21 years old Mark was ‘super thrilled’ with Ice Blue Valentino’s performance.

The 16.2 black gelding has had a home for life with Mark, ‘I have been fortunate to have Ice Blue Valentino (Apollo) since he was a four-year-old and now he is 21.

It is so special that he is still out competing and riding him holds more meaning that ever before, he was brought by Gloria Price and Jennifer Long for me to produce, Gloria was the best supporter you could ask for, unfortunately she passed away last year but the family get so much from seeing him do his thing.’

‘Apollo’ has showcased his talents, becoming the Intermediate I Silver National Champion in 2021 with Nick Lawson, Mark tells us, ‘he has been a very successful horse at small tour level, he has competed at every level to Grand Prix.’

It was a successful day out competing Mark explains, ‘we had a wonderful day at Kelsall Hill, it was fantastic to come home with both wins in the Novice Gold with exciting young stallion New Secret and then the Inter I Gold.

The atmosphere was great, and it was a team affair, a real highlight was to have all our team from Corvedale Equestrian (the yard which Mark and his partner Nick Lawson run) there, seeing all the owners supporting each other made it a special day.’

Mark and Nick work extremely hard on the management of the horses at home, ‘we won the SEIB/Horse & Hound Full Livery Yard award in 2022 and our key is that most of the horses live out in a herd 24/7, they are a mixed herd with no back shoes.’

Apollo, ‘is so happy in his herd, he came in from the field on the morning of the competition, was washed and went to the show', Mark believes, ‘it really helps keep the horses mentally and physically sound, although may require a bit more cleaning!’

The training at home and the turnout of the horses correlates with their performance, ‘we often see the same pattern of poor performance, health issues and anxiety in the horses and riders, so we wanted to do something to step away from that.’ Mark reflects on Apollo’s training,

‘We have been really busy the last 12 months, so Apollo has been working at home and not been to many shows.’ But his success at the qualifiers led them to Kelsall Hill, ‘I initially intended to do an Inter I qualifier to get him fit and step back up to Inter II and GP. He won his qualifiers, so I thought let’s take him to the regionals one last time.’

Apollo’s top form continued the following week Mark tells us, ‘he did an Intermediate II and got over 70%’ looking towards the future, ‘we will hopefully do the Middle Tour Championship after the Nationals and some Grand Prix before the winter.’