Darbi Johnston-Murphy

15 year old Darbi Johnston-Murphy is an equestrian rider from Market Rasen.

Most memorable achievement:

My most memorable achievement was to ride at Burghley Horse Trials in 2009 in the Mini Event Pony class. I felt so proud and it was then that I realised my dream could come true if I worked really hard.


October Blog:

“An amazing end to a very busy season!”

July- The most amazing month

After recently qualifying for the National Schools Equestrian Association Showjumping  National Championships at Bishop Burton on 1st July 2012, riding for De Aston School, Market Rasen, Jessie and I qualified for the Pony Club National Championships at the Area 6 Novice Eventing Regional finals on the 15th July 2012 at Burghley, Stamford and the Pony Club national Dressage Championships on 21st July 2012, Three National qualifiers in one month not counting the BEJAS National Finals in January of this year…

Pony Club Area Novice Eventing Regional Finals

For a welcome change the weather did not hamper the event which was held in the beautiful grounds of the world famous Burghley House. The Area 6 Novice Eventing competition hosted by the Burghley Pony Club brings together the best event riders of 17 pony clubs in the Area, to compete for a place at the Novice Eventing National Championships to be held at Kelsall Hill inCheshire.

Jessie and I were competing individually as well as part of the Brocklesby Pony Club Novice Eventing Team and we carried our dressage score of 31.4 through to the Showjumping phase and ended on a clear round well within the time allowed going into the cross country phase with nothing to add.

The cross country course was built up to height, it was very technical and incredibly challenging, there were several jumps on the course worthy of an intermediate track, however we managed to negotiated them confidently and professionally to finish the course well within the optimum time, giving us a super 1st place individually and team 1st place and will go through to the National Championships in Cheshire to compete for Area 6.

Pony Club Area Dressage Regional Finals

On the 21st July 2012 the Pony Club held their Area Dressage Regional finals at the Lincolnshire Showground, where we again rode as part of the Brocklesby Pony Club Area Dressage Team. Dressage is not our strongest discipline, however we still managed to get an amazing team 2nd place qualifying us for the Pony Club National Championships in Cheshire to compete again for Area 6.

Pony Club Area Showjumping Regional Finals

The following day 22nd July 2012 was the Pony Club Area Showjumping Regional Finals; this was a real test of our nerve. Having already jumped 2 clear rounds, Jessie and I were the only members of the Brocklesby Showjumping team left in the competition. I had to jump a clear round to go through to the championships as an individual so the pressure was on. I had to go for it in the jump off as I had nothing to lose as the team had already qualified for the champs in Dressage and eventing, so I just had to go for trying to get the fastest time, which I did, but just rolled the last pole to give us 4 faults…So unfortunately because of that we did not get placed and missed out on the hatrick of representing all three disciplines at the Champs.

August – National 3rd Place for Brocklesby Dressage Team

After coming 1st in the Eventing and 2nd in the Dressage at the Pony Club Area Finals held at Burghley and the Lincolnshire Showground last month, the members of the Brocklesby Hunt Pony Club Eventing and  Dressage teams travelled across to Kelsall Hill in Cheshire to represent Area 6 at the Pony Club National Novice Championships. The team achieved a very impressive 3rd place beating 37 other teams from across the country. For me to finish 18th in the country was a great achievement considering dressage is our weakest discipline.

The following day saw the Eventing Championships held at the same venue inCheshireand the same team qualified for this discipline also. This competition was extremely tough with very technical, up to height showjumping and cross country courses to negotiate. Jessie and I jumped a super double clear but unfortunately a couple of mishaps in both showjumping and cross country saw the Brocklesby Team slip down the rankings and finished in 26th place. The amazing team effort did not stop there as the Brocklesby Team picked up a 5th place rosette for the best turned out team in the eventing competition.

August – More National Championship Qualifications

I had another super result my show pony Mr Mischief (aka Oscar). After taking a super 2nd place in the Working Hunter Pony class at Revesby Country Fair earlier in the month, we were the only clear round in the Working Hunter Pony class at the Holton-le-Moor and District Show giving us a great 1st place and taking home the ‘Fair Promise’ trophy presented by the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. Oscar and I also qualified for the Equestrian Life National Championships 2012, to be held at the Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire on the 11th August 2013.

September – Frickley Park Horse Trials 8th Sept 2012

Our BE season started quite slowly due to the adverse weather conditions, but September seemed to be packed with events. Our first event at Frickley Park in Doncaster was a complete disaster as Jessie had been spooked at the water jump at the Pony Club National Championships which made her very shy of the water jump there and in true chestnut mare style flatly refused to go anywhere near it, therefore for the first time ever Jessie and I found ourselves eliminated, which was a real shame as it was not a difficult track.

Because of this ‘demon’ we decided to go cross country training the very next day, and in true chestnut mare style jumped into, out of and through every water jump they had…How frustrating was that.

We then decided to enter her for a local unaffiliated cross country competition and in true chestnut mare style…again flatly refused to go anywhere near the water jump. By this stage we were considering our options.

We had another British Event coming up atBrooksbyMeltonCollegein Leicestershire which had a water complex so the morning of the event we took Jessie down to the local ford and splashed her in and out of it several times in the hope that this would cure her of her aversion to water.

Hackthorn Unaffiliated One Day Event

Meanwhile Mr Mischief had his first ever One Day Event, he did a super dressage test and a clear showjumping round, with am amazing clear cross country round to put him in 7th position, not bad for his first attempt.  Oscar is really doing well, over the winter I would like to concentrate on showjumping and winning our first British Novice.

Brooksby Melton Horse Trials 22nd Sept 2012

At this event I was determined that Jessie would not misbehave at the water complex so we set at lightening speed and we did not stop at a thing. When we got to the water complex I had a little word with her and she leaped into the water at full gallop!! We finished the cross country in a very fast time, in fact we were too fast and picked up 6.8 time faults for our sins which moved us down the rankings, but I was very happy as Jessie seemed to have got over her irrational fear of water. With our dressage score of 37.5 and a clear round showjumping we finished in 14th place which was not good enough to qualify for the regional finals. We had only one event at which we could achieve our goal that we set at the beginning of the year.

Bishop Burton Horse Trials 30th Sept 2012

This was the last event of the season for us so this was our only chance to qualify for next years Badminton Grass Roots Regional Finals. Jessie and I had trained hard all week so that we were really prepared and I was very focused. Jessie was surprisingly very calm and collected and so the dressage went rather well with 33, in fact it was our best dressage score ever.

The showjumping round was superb. I was confident that Jessie would go round Bishop Burton as she had done the same course earlier in the year, so this time we did not rush and negotiated the water with ease, finishing the course within the optimum time which put us in 2nd position. This meant that we did it…we qualified for the Regional Finals next year. Goal Achieved!

The last National championship we have to do this year is the National Schools Showjumping Championships at Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire. Jessie and I have qualified as part of the De Aston School Team and as an individual so I have two attempts at the National title. This would end a really super season and will now mean that I can set my goals for next year with the Badminton Grass Roots Championships as my focus.

I have been lucky enough to have found a super sponsor, Mark Dann from Cardsave who is supportive and enthusiastic and has given me the opportunity to continue to train throughout the winter so that we are on top of our game when the season starts in March 2013 so we would just like to say thank you to Mark for all his help and support.

We are also looking forward to being able to attend the workshops and courses that have been put on by the LEAP programme as I felt that they were very beneficial and informative and also to inspiring more young people to take up sport during my visits primary schools in the Lincolnshire area.

August Blog:

On the 6th May I did the NSEA Showjumping Bishop Burton with the De Aston School Equestrian Team who came 2nd in the 90cm class and Jessie and I jumped into 1st position and won the 90cm Individual.

I need 3 double clears in BE 90 competitions  to move up to BE 100 so I took part in the BE Horse trials at Bishop Burton on 27th May and came 12th with a dressage score of 39.5 and clear show jumping, and cross-country. This was my second double clear only one more to go!

My next event was at Shelford Manor in Nottinghamshire where I rode as part of our local the British Riding Clubs team, however this did not go as I’d liked… with a dressage of 39.1 and clear Showjumping, unfortunately Jessie decided to dump me at a rather tricky skinny, however I got her over it the second time but we incurred 60 penalties, however I did come 6th.

June saw me win the Working Hunter Pony Championship on my show pony at one of our local shows and on the 1st July I qualified as an individual out of 63 riders for the NSEA National Championships at Addington Manor in October.

On 15th July we competed in the Pony Club Area 6 Novice Eventing at Burghley, Stamford. I was competing individually as well as part of the Brocklesby Pony Club. Our Dressage was a personal best 31.4 and clear Showjumping going into cross country phase with nothing to add. Jess jumped clear to finish the course well within the optimum time, getting our final double clear,  securing a super 1st place individually and the team a place the Novice Eventing National Championships to be held at Kelsall Hill in Cheshire.

I am currently training for the Pony Club Area team Dressage and Showjumping competitions held at the Lincolnshire Showground on 21st and 22nd July. My dressage trainer Lara Dyson, herself the British Dressage Advanced Medium Restricted Pet Plan Champion 2012, has definitely made a huge difference to the way Jessie goes, she is more supple and obedient and she feels like she is starting to understand what is expected of her. We are now getting 8’s on our score sheet.

The Area Showjumping is a team competition and we are looking forward to it. Last night I had some Showjumping training with Jo Burns my British Showjumping accredited trainer and Jessie was her usual nippy self, so we are trained up and ready for the weekend.

Our next BE90 will be at Shelford Manor where I am aiming for another double clear, just to give Jessie more mileage before going onto BE100.

The end of August sees the Pony Club Area National Championships, in Cheshire; again I would like to come top 5.  I will have at least 3 dressage training session and 2 show jumping sessions and as well as the BE 90 another cross-country training sessions to improve on anything thing else that I think might cause problems and the competition.

In June I also did a presentation at Osgodby Primary School and another at Reepham Primary forLEAP. I was proud to present the children’s Sports Challenge awards. I had the opportunity to bring Jessie along to Reepham School and the children just adored her…She also adored the attention. It is so nice to talk to the children as they have some fascinating questions and they are definitely inspired by me as an athlete as I am still at school and they can relate to me. I also did another presentation at Lesley Manser School. I was very nervous as I had to speak to over 150 children and teachers and I got to hold the Olympic Torch.

March Blog:

Brocklesby Cross Country Schooling 18th March 2012

Today was the day when I finally get a chance to get Jessie to go down the dreaded quarry with the steps. The last 3 times we have been toBrocklesbyPark, Jessie has always had an issue with them. However last week she managed to fly down the steps at Oasby so I wasn’t expecting her to stop today.

We started off on some other nice jumps and Jessie was jumping all of the 1m jumps. We got to the quarry and I was a little bit worried that she wouldn’t do them but I took her at them and she just dropped down without an issue what so ever. I even managed to get her to jump off the Open drop jump. So today was a very positive experience for both of us.

Because Jessie is still only very young she needs education and cross country schooling of this type is invaluable to her progression as an eventer.

Dressage Training – Lara Dyson 17th March 2012


On Saturday we went along to our new Dressage trainer Lara Dyson of Cyden Dressage for a lesson. It was very exciting as we were able to actually see how Jessie worked with a professional dressage rider on board.

After Jessie settled down, Lara had Jessie going really lovely, long and low and working from her hind quarters. She commented on how Jessie was really quick to learn and that she only had to teach something once and Jessie just did it without any arguing.

It was my turn next and Lara helped me to understand what I have been doing wrong and Jessie responded really well. I hope with Lara’s help that I will soon start to improve my dressage scores.

Oasby Horse Trials – Grantham 11th March 2012

The very next day we went to Oasby BE90. This competition was the very first affiliated competition of the season and after our disaster at Brocklesby we hoped that this would be a better event. We got to Oasby about12.30 pmto walked the cross country course and I was really taken aback when I saw the steps down. It made me worried as Jessie was not happy about doing step. But I just knew that I had to ride her like it was a completely different jump. I’ll have to grit my teeth and ‘kick on’!

I went into the Dressage test still a little bit worried about the steps, so I was very tense and managed a dressage score of 40.5 which I was really pleased with considering they were marking really harshly, she did fight my hand a bit but she went a lot better than Brocklesby, her trot was a little hollow but we are getting her trained, but after my dressage I was lying 12th.

In the showjumping she did a really good clear round it was steady, and very clean there were a few tight turns and a very short double but we got a nice clear.

Then we went on to the cross-country which we had walked earlier on and because of what Jessie had done at Brocklesby I though she wasn’t going to go down the steps here but she flew them and we got a double clear which is fantastic for her first time out and then I got 7th place which made the whole day even more worth all the work I have put in this last year.

De Aston School Interschools Showjumping – 10th March 2012

My school hosted their very first Interschool Showjumping competition for the National Schools Equestrian Association. Eight schools came down to Faldingworth Equestrian Centre and there were 4 classes. The first class was the Grass Roots 40 cm. It was very exciting to watch the team ride as some of them had only started riding 5 weeks ago. They rode really well and got 1st place. The 80 cm team came 1st and the 90 cm team came second, but I won the individual 90 cm Intermediate class on Jessie with a time of 18.05 seconds.

Brocklesby – 3rd March 2012 

On the 3rd of March Jessie and Me went to Brocklesby one day event. Me and mum had to get up at 5:30 to get to Brocklesby 8am so we had time to walk both my courses and warm up for my dressage, which really well considering it was the first one of the year but she was quite against the bit when I asked her to come down, which is something we are now working but she got a good score of 35.6.

Then we did our showjumping she did really well and got a clear round. We warmed up and she jumping really well; the course was about 90cm and then after the showjumping we were lying 12th.

Then we got changed and went to the warm up where she was jumping really well but she was taking me into the jumps but she was jumping them fine, then when we were on the course we had jumped clear jump until quarry she jumped the first part clear and then B and C she stopped at 3 times when eliminated because she slowed down which meant that she didn’t have enough impulsion so she didn’t have enough power.

NSEA Regional Finals – Arena UK 24th March 2012

The National Schools series is run nationally with competitions being held nationwide.  I am team captain of De Aston School Equestrian team and we hosted the NSEAInterschool’s and County Showjumping Competition  on 24th March 2012 in Market Rasen. Where I won the 90 cm Individual Showjumping class and the team came second. Two weeks later was the NSEA Interschool’s Regional finals. Our team competed in the 80 cm class, The first two team members rode fantastic clear rounds, but I rode a super fast round which put our team in 1st position and me into 3rd place individually. It was a great achievement as we are now through to the National Final at Addington Manor in October 2012.

Please list any upcoming competitions including location, aspirations for the competition and training involved prior to the competition

Eland Lodge is in Derbyshire on the 15th April 2012, for this event I aspire to come in the top 6 and have a dressage test in the mid-thirties. I am doing a BS Showjumping course so my Showjumping training is covered by this course each Thursday evening. I have another dressage lesson booked with my Dressage trainer on Saturday 31st March which will hopefully improve my dressage scores aand I have a cross country training session with the BE accredited coach on 12th April, just before the competion on the 15th April. So we should be all trained up for this.

Any other information…

The LEAP programme is super as it gives me a reason to be proud of myself for achieveing such a high standard. I think that the workshops are good and I am looking forward to the one that will help me with my nerves just before I go into the arena.

I am hoping that I may be able to secure some good funding by being associated with the LEAP programme, so that I can continue to do mu very best and get a step closer to riding in the 2016 Olympics.