“Superstar” students showcase their sporting successes and special deeds – Jorgi Craigie
Schools are out, summer is in – and it’s proving to be a time for some of our young students to shine in sporting events and special deeds!
The holidays are generally seen as a time for young people to relax and unwind ahead of the start of a new year at school.
Far from making the most of long lie ins and duvet days, some of our pupils have been out and about enjoying local and national successes in sporting events, raising money for charity and making their families proud.
Here at the Council, we are also proud of our pupils – particularly the resilience shown after a challenging period throughout the pandemic - and would like to share a few of their stories with you over the holiday period.
A 10-year-old Glaitness School pupil says “dreams do come true when you work hard” – after making a name for herself in the competitive world of equestrianism.
Jorgi Craigie and her mum Caroline made a 1,500-mile round trip to compete in one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian events – the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead in England.
Although it wasn’t to be on the day – qualifying for the occasion was in itself a massive achievement for the young rider and her pony, Rhencullen Rockette, also known as Mrs Brown.
Jorgi is believed to be the first Orkney rider to qualify for the Royal International, the first individual rider from the county to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show in October, and recently took Reserve Champion in the Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter at the Royal Cheshire County Show - all before starting Primary 6!
Although teams from Orkney have made it to HOYS before, Jorgi and Mrs Brown, an eight-year-old Welsh Sec A mare, is the first to do it solo.
Mum, Caroline Casey said: “Jorgi and Mrs Brown qualified for their first Royal International Horse Show on their first attempt at the National Pony Society show at Strathallan Castle in June. Jorgi was over the moon to get the ticket.
“We went away this season for miles on the clock never expected to do so well. On the mainland you are amongst strong company with very nice ponies. Jorgi has worked her socks off in the winter months preparing for these qualifiers. Covid stole a season from Jorgi and Mrs Brown. So, we were very excited to be getting back out this season.
“Qualifying for the Royal International and HOYS is a huge, huge achievement. Some people try their whole lives. They are up there with the most sought after tickets in the horse world.”
The journey to Hickstead began with Pentland Ferries before the 767-mile road trip to Hickstead – particularly tiring for all given the heatwave last week with temperatures topping 30 degrees C.
Caroline continued: “I am extremely proud of Jorgi and Mrs Brown. It honestly still seems so surreal. You work so, so hard for something then to get it the first season you try is just amazing and proves what a team they are.
“It is very challenging competing off the island and becomes very expensive competing at the level Jorgi is at. We are very lucky to have the sponsorship from Pentland Ferries which helps greatly to the cost of getting away.
“Casey Construction help out over the whole season; Jorgi gets some merchandise from Couronne Equestrian and Mrs Brown is sponsored by Orkney Equine Sports Massage. Jorgi has loads of support and a peedie fan club. Sarah Reid from Cruan has worked hard with Jorgi, Andrew Cole has been a top groom as has Alannah Norquoy and Sharon Nixon has been awesome letting us use her jumping paddock. Practicing on grass is essential.”
Jorgi was just three when she first started riding on a loaned peedie Shetland pony called Gypsy. She progressed to her own palomino Shetland called Summer.
A keen and confident rider, Jorgi has training sessions with Sarah at Cruan up to three times a week, and over the winter months receives instruction from James Munro, from Caithness.
“She is a member of the Orkney Riding Club who are very good at organising visiting instructors. We also go across to Caithness for training with Russell Skelton and James Munro which helps Jorgi greatly and prepares her for competing on the mainland.
“Jorgi likes doing a bit of everything with Mrs Brown from hacking, dressage, show jumping, cross country, pony club, but Jorgi’s real love is working hunter. Both Jorgi and Mrs Brown enjoy jumping.”
Always smiling while on the back of her pony, Jorgi will give anything a go – they are a match made in heaven.
“We’ve had Mrs Brown for two years and she is the best pony we could ever have found for Jorgi - she has the heart of a lion, always aims to please and such a genuine kid’s pony. She loves Jorgi as much as Jorgi loves her. They are a team with a lovely bond.”
Jorgi said: “I love horse riding - I always have. I like going to shows it’s nice to get all the gear on and have Mrs Brown washed and looking smart. I don’t get nervous - I just go in and try my best. My mum gets nervous for me.
“My favourite part is definitely the jumping - I love how hard Mrs Brown always tries for me. We are a team. I can’t wait to be at all these big shows and to be able to ride at them is a big thing for me. Just proves dreams do come true when you work hard.
“My family and friends are proud of me. I wouldn’t be able to do it without mum, she loves it as much as me.”