Mel Chapman reflects on her success and day to day life with best horse ‘Norman’

Did you know this week was National Storytelling week?

National Storytelling week is celebrated by all ages, from all areas of the world. It is the time to reflect on a past time, create a new time, and let your imagination run wild!


We caught up with one of our Supported Riders, Mel Chapman as she recalls on her success and day to day life with top horse ‘Norman’.

Mel’s story…

Norman (DHI Work Of Art) and I first met in December 2008 yet, despite his somewhat quirky sense of humour, we have never looked back. His opinionated outlook on life was the making of our partnership and, whilst I haven’t always rejoiced in his ‘I know better than you’ antics, I wouldn’t be where I am today if our paths hadn’t crossed.

He is that ‘one in a million’ and most definitely my horse of a lifetime. We have created so many incredible memories together it is rather difficult to select a ‘greatest achievement’, so I’m going to cheat and share more than one of our highlights…

In 2010 we achieved that much sought after ‘golden ticket’ for the Winter Nationals April saw us heading to Hartpury in order to compete in the Medium class (restricted.) Taking into account Norman’s age, and the fact that we had only been a partnership for just over a year, our main intent was to enjoy the experience, as qualifying was an achievement in itself.

Our test felt lovely…in fact great in places. However, in a class of 23 it was difficult to imagine where we would finish, so, to find myself leading the lap of honour as National Champion was a dream come true! BD reported that we’d won the class ‘in style’’…no complaints there.

Fast-forward 7 years to 2017…

We were Hartpury bound again. Norman and I received an invitation to be a part of the Gala evening at the BD National championships. The build up to this was great fun and, with our music arranged by Tom Hunt and the floor plan designed by my trainer (Ian Woodhead), the journey towards the evening was an incredible one.

On the night, I was a little nervous but Norman felt phenomenal and he gave his all. The arena was buzzing and the occasion far bigger than anything else that we had ever experienced.

My wonderful boy is now enjoying a life of riley and the team and I are at his beck and call. At the end of August 2017, and with a very heavy heart, I made the decision to retire my gentle giant. He had given me everything…and more. Whilst I miss riding him and the buzz of taking to the dressage arena together, I am so incredibly proud of what we have achieved together. He is learning to love a mooch in the field (and to refrain from being overly wild.) He also continues to entertain us all with his stable antics and Houdini powers…he can be a little bit of a cheeky boy at times; we love it!

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