Grace-ing the riding world

Grace Braim on Viking Song
Grace Braim on Viking Song

From being a young toddler fascinated by watching her parents muck out their Goathland stables, to competing alongside Olympians, one Whitby Community College student lives for the equestrian life.

By the age of two, Grace Braim would sit in front of her father as they hacked his hunter over the North Yorkshire Moors.

She would hold onto the reins and kick her legs with a big grin across her face; obviously inspired and motivated by the whole affair.

Grace, now 16, started to learn to ride when she was four years old at local riding schools.

It wasn’t long before her parents Mark and Emma realised she had a natural talent and that it was time to buy her first pony, Owen, of whom was difficult to ride but he can only be commended as it was the challenge of staying on his back that progresses her to the next level.

A few years after, Jack, a 12.2 Welsh pony, was purchased to take her into more challenging phases such as show jumping and cross country. By the time Grace was established in these two disciplines it was evident she required a bigger pony so she moved onto Lex, a 14.2 who again was a challenging pony but had the same effect as Owen.

This had an amazing effect on her riding abilities; having to up her game to control his unpredictable and erratic nature. Anthony Turnbull and Gladys Jordan of Grange Stud, Ugthorpe, helped her to move to the next level of competition.

At the age of 14, Grace started working for Paddy Muir, a successful three-day eventer whom rode internationally at a high level.

After having a taste of the eventing world, Grace was ready for the challenge and Viking Song came along; an 11 year old 16.2 ex steeplechase Thoroughbred, who she rides at present.

She went from strength to strength with Paddy’s mentorship and in 2012, finished the season by being placed second overall in the North of England region at BE100 level, at the regional finals at Hutton In The Forest.

Grace missed out on a win by 0.3 seconds. This year Grace and Viking Song; just at the age of 15, qualified at the next level up in the British Eventing, competing along the likes of Olympian Nicola Wilson. This was a huge achievement as she was to compete in the Regional Championships.

Grace was among a very strong and accomplished field of competitors so she would have to impress the selectors with a chain of good results.

She was picked and deemed competent to represent the Northern Region in the CCIJ.

This was an international three-day event, at Weston Park near Birmingham last weekend, against 10 other regional teams to include Scotland and Wales and Border.

At 16, Grace was one of the youngest competitors and was competing against 18-year-olds in their respective teams.

The CCIJ was a level above Grace’s previous level for qualification, so nerves were shattered within many of the less experienced youngsters involved.

Grace’s dressage on the first day was respectable, putting both her and her horse through their paces.

Her cross country was faultless – commentated ‘textbook perfect,’ Grace was thrilled as she completed clear and within the optimum time.

On the third day the heavens opened and the show jumping was a challenge, with the ground cutting up terribly and becoming difficult for all the horses, leading to a number of fences down and faults gained by most in this discipline.

There was around 80 riders in the competition, Grace finishing respectfully up the table with her team of eight gaining third place overall in the country.

Grace and Viking Song have another two years in the U18 classes remaining so it is their goal to progress successfully and make a significant impact in the coming years.

She is very aware it will require an unprecedented commitment that is beyond many of our comprehensions in order to reach her goals.

Balancing her already proven academic achievements at GCSE and continual A level studies at Whitby Community College along with her social and equestrian pursuits is to be one of the greatest challenges she will likely ever have to deal with.

None of these achievements would have been possible if it had not been for 100% dedication and encouragement from all involved with Grace’s development; to include but not limited to Emma … her mum, Gladys Jordan and Anthony Turnbull of Grange Stud, Paddy Muir of Stokesley and the dedicated U18 selectors, who have demonstrated so much commitment in the development of all the North of England youngsters competing.