Horse Deals meets Jayne Webber, who dominated the showing classes at HOYS this year

By: Horse Deals

Horse Deals meets Jayne Webber, who dominated the showing classes at HOYS this year
Horse Deals meets Jayne Webber, who dominated the showing classes at HOYS this year

After seven wins throughout the week at HOYS, it was just reward when Jayne Webber was called forward into the final spotlight to receive the Horse Deals supreme ridden horse award from publisher Michael Donovan.

Jayne had often referred to Carol Bardo’s champion riding horse as her "special needs" mount, but over the past three seasons, the elegant grey gelding by Kilvington Scoundrel out of Titania’s Dream has amassed an enviable tally of wins and championships.

"He was a real Jack the Lad when he was first ridden. And as he tended to make a fuss about anything, he’s not been an easy horse to take away to shows," says Jayne.

In his first HOYS appearance in 2007, "Phil" was spooky and sharp, but last year he rose to the occasion to take the riding horse title.

"I’ve now run out of superlatives to describe him, but he’s as magical to ride as he looks," says Jayne.
Although the week ended on a perfect note for the team, Carol Bardo had the worst possible start when she had to undergo surgery for a ruptured disc. However, determined not to miss the final classes, she discharged herself and was ringside to watch Phil’s finest hour. Also present was the horse’s breeder, Anna Macey.
"It was an extra special day to have Carol and Anna there. Phil was been so chilled about everything — even the ringside Sky TV studio — and he gave me the most sublime rides," says Jayne.

While the supreme decision came down to the choice of BSJA chairman Michael Mac and show breeder Rose Kelbie, who both said The Philanderer caught their eye from the first walk round, Jayne would have won by a distance if the title had been decided on a points basis throughout the show.

She started off with Carol Bardo and Mandy Hughes’s The Humdinger, who won his coloured native class on a score of 100 out of 100 and took the championship, then followed that up by winning the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse title with Amanda Bowlby’s Ironman Muldooon.

Jayne qualified the former hurdler and chaser when she partnered him for the first time at Burghley.
"He’s a delightful little horse and I’d jump at the chance of riding him again," she says.
Carol Bardo’s The Keystone Cob maintained the stable’s form by topping his heavyweight class en route to the championship, while The Philanderer was their final winner.

Jayne is the ultimate producer and her expertise at getting horses to settle in the ring — particularly tricky rides — is a joy to watch. And her seven HOYS wins were no fluke. Every horse went beautifully for rider and judges and was a credit to all concerned.
"I’ve a back-up team second to none and everyone played their part at Birmingham," explains Jayne, before revealing her winning secret.
"Home groom Libby Larman took three horses hacking in Windsor Great Park and all three stood champion," she laughs.
You may not associate champion show horses with "happy hacking", but this typifies the laid back regime horses enjoy at Moor Farm, Maidenhead.
"We just do what we need to keep them happy. During the season we tend to tick along," says Jayne.

While the farm has a big all-weather outdoor school and nice fields, the surrounding roads aren’t great for riding, so with Windsor Great Park just 10min away, the horses are frequently boxed there.
"It’s a popular trip out and also a great introduction to travelling for young horses, who can enjoy a relaxed ride at the end of their journey," explains Jayne.

During the summer months, around 24 horses occupy the stables at Moor Farm. These include established stars such as Phil, hunters Silverstream, Standing Ovation and Cheyne Walk, and cobs The Humdinger and The Keystone Cob. They have been joined by some new names, including Knightsbridge Court, top four-year-old hunter at the National Championships, Thame winner Fate Acoblis and the three-year-old Berkeley Square, who will make her debut under saddle next season.
Added to these are liveries such as Elaine Place’s prolific coloured horse Red Andes and Natasha Yates’s small hunter First Edition, on whom Jayne shares the ride when Natasha is working in London.

Jayne is assisted by grooms Mark Chesters, Gemma Lucas and Libby Larman and she believes that because the staff know their horses inside out, any potential problems are nipped in the bud.
"It’s so important to have a good relationship with horses. At HOYS, Mark knew Phil was chilled and laid back, so he had no worries at all about our performance. He was right," she says.

Jayne, who also describes herself as laid back, says she thinks that filters through to the horses. And because of her racing background, she has learned "to sit and suffer" on difficult rides.
"You can’t stop a horse by pulling against it. I tend to go with the flow and try to read their minds. It’s trial and error, but more often than not we end up with a happy outcome for horse and rider," she explains.

Jayne’s record speaks for itself.
"I like a challenge and there aren’t many horses coming to me who don’t have a hang up. Phil’s definitely grown up this year, but he was a real pain as a youngster. If he hadn’t been so beautiful, we’d have given up long ago," she reflects.
The Keystone Cob also took time to settle. When bought from Tim and Christie Fairburn, he hated to be touched.
"It took a year for him to fully accept handling, grooming and riding, but now he’s a real people person," says Jayne, who took a liking to the cob and literally herded him from stable to horsebox when she first took him home.

Jayne and Carol certainly both have an eye for a horse. When visiting Dublin four years ago, the first horse they spotted was a powerful grey.
"He was just grazing, led by his groom, but we liked him, so we bought him," explains Jayne.
The four-year-old was Silverstream, who went on to stand supreme ridden hunter at the show.
"We don’t go looking for horses — they tend to find us. Steve Pitt keeps an eye out for some nice three-year-olds in youngstock classes and the Fairburns know exactly what we like," says Jayne.
She may be the owner, but Carol, who has her own special ride in the cob Cantel, is very hands on at Moor Farm.
"It’s marvellous. While I get on with riding, Carol takes care of all the administration duties," says Jayne.

With so many horses to produce, doing the show entries can prove the proverbial nightmare, but Carol and Jayne try to place each horse, taking into account livery owners’ specific needs.
"It’s horses for courses. We tend to avoid busy shows with nervous horses, but then they sometimes surprise us, as Phil did at Great Yorkshire this year by winning and going champion in what we considered an electric ring," she says
Close season it may be now, but Jayne is pro-active at putting something back into her sport and on the day of this interview, had just returned from a judges’ assessment day at Addington Manor.
"We took some horses along for candidates to ride. We get so much out of showing that it’s nice to be able to put something back," she explains.
Win or lose, Jayne Webber wouldn’t choose another career.
"We have a lovely yard, a great team and I have some fantastic horses to ride. What more could I wish for?"
she asks.


Although she doesn’t come from an equestrian family, Jayne Webber is bred to excel in the sporting arena. Father Freddie Williams was a double world speedway champion and her mother Pat Devries skated in the Oslo Olympics.
Jayne started riding at the age of five after sitting on a friend’s pony and she tasted early showing success by winning at HOYS on the 12.2hh show pony Cusop Pirouette.

After eventing for a short time, Jayne combined showing and racing following her marriage to former national hunt jockey Anthony Webber. She also enjoyed a brief stint at a racing yard in South Africa.

As Jayne’s showing career gathered momentum, she became equestrian manager for the Duncan family and also rode for Norman Swallow and Jane Thornton.
It was a chance encounter that led Jayne to join Carol Bardo’s showing team four years ago. After regular jockey Richard Ramsay suffered a terrible fall, Jayne was called on to partner the riding horses Soldier Brave and Catherston Square Dance. The horses were moved to Moor Farm and Jayne kept the rides.

Jayne has two daughters, Joanna — who has followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and is currently touring with Disney on Ice — and Harriet, who works in London.
She now lives with her partner Dr Alan Ross, who has a dental practice in Knightsbridge Court, London. Alan evented in Ireland and sold his advanced horse, The Busby Soldier, to a Korean rider before the Seoul Olympics.

Jayne and Alan share their home with Scottish terriers Robbie and Archie and Siamese cats Jasmine, Orchid and Little Louis.
Jayne’s hobbies include skiing "when I have time", holidaying in the sun, "preferably in St Tropez", and entertaining and cooking, with "wine definitely involved"!

Words by Margaret Shaw
Pictures by Real Time Imaging