Promising young showjump rider Jake Tomlinson is to make his nationals debut after a successful first State open campaign.
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Tomlinson, who's not long turned 14, has just ridden at his first NSW State Showjumping Championships, hosted at the prestigious Williga Park in October.
With his distinctive Curly horse Marley he claimed third overall in the children's competition; with his new mount Vinchino he placed ninth in the juniors against riders up to 18 years.
Dad Gary Tomlinson says the open State competition was a steep learning curve for for all of them.
Jake cut his competitive teeth in steer riding at rodeos, and first took Marley to stockman's challenge events including whip cracking, obstacle courses and mustering.
It wasn't until he began to ride with Forbes Pony Club a couple of years ago that he started showjumping, and he's been competing with increasing success in Pony Club events since.
The NSW State championships were a step up in terms of the course and the competition style, Gary said.
The style and size of the jumps themselves, as well as the speed of the competitors was a big change.
Gary said Jake matched the competition once he knew what he had to do, Marley galloping the course.
"It was his first open competition and a big step up," Gary said.
"It was the first time he's done a full size water jump - like you see at the Olympics - it was an eye opener."
There was also the chance to meet elite riders, including Olympians, around the dinner tables of an evening - all invaluable experience.
Jake and Marley have been competing together, with successes including Sydney Royal Show, for a while now but the addition of Vinchino to the Tomlinsons' stable will make a big difference.
Marley has taken the 110cm jumps in her stride but Vinchino, a Warmblood, enabled Jake to take on the higher jumps - the 130cm course - for Junior competition.
Vinchino came to the Tomlinsons in May, with a good pedigree but a reputation for being difficult to manage, Gary said.
Jake's been working with him closely since then and they're forming a competitive partnership.
Next on the agenda is the Australian Jumping Championships, to be hosted at Boneo Park equestrian centre.
Again, Jake will ride Marley in the children's and Vinchino in the juniors.
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