After a thrilling and emotional series 2 of Blue Chip All Star Academy, Kelly Seager was named the 2017 champion. Kelly and her super cob Flint led from the off – and their impressive dressage display to music on the final day, saw Kelly the out-and-out winner.
We caught up with Kelly to find out what life is like as the Blue Chip All Star Academy champion and what she has been up to since taking part in the show.
How does it feel to have won?
I’m still speechless! I think it’s going to take a long time to digest. It was very emotional watching the show – it felt like I’d won all over again. It’s amazing.
Why do you think you won?
I do not doubt for a second that Flint was a massive contributing factor to me winning. He’s an easy horse and is very trainable – you teach him something once and he’s got it.
It’s really nice that people saw that in him – but he hasn’t always been so straightforward. I’ve been training him for three years to get him like that. When I bought him he was quite quirky and I couldn’t even canter him. He is a one-to-one horse and coming to a new home knocked his confidence. I couldn’t find his buttons, so we had to go back to the beginning with his training, and it took a few months to re-establish.
How has winning changed your life?
On a personal level I’ve always been nervous about whether my riding was good enough. I didn’t believe in my ability and I worried about how I looked. Winning the various ridden modules has shown that I can do it. I feel like I can go out and do everything with Flint – it’s given me the confidence to just get on with it. Pammy’s words – “either do it, or don’t do it!” – go through my mind whenever I go down the centre line!
What have you been up to since taking part?
We’ve qualified for the British Dressage Novice Regional Championships and the Elementary Area Festival and also part qualified for both the Medium Area Festival and Elementary Freestyle Regionals.
We’ve also done two British Eventing BE80s, where we came first and second. I bought Flint to event, but when I first got him I fell pregnant with my son, who is now 20 months old. Then the following year I broke my collarbone and scapular during cross-country training. I had a fall and put my arm out – which I won’t do again after learning how to fall off in the All Star Academy!
We’ve just completed our first 90cm one day event with the High Fen Riding Club, where we came fourth – so Flint is going really well.
How do you juggle riding with work and being a single mum to three kids?
I keep Flint at home, which really helps. I live on my dad’s property with my three children – Lexi who is nine, Emmy-Rae who is four and Enzo who is 20 months old.
My dad purchased a run-down small holding around 20 years ago and turned it into a horsey girl’s dream home; it has 11 acres, four stables and an outdoor arena. My husband and I moved into his annex when I was pregnant with my first daughter 10 years ago, it was supposed to be temporary to help manage a new baby, horses and work, but I loved living back with my mum so I never left!
I work for the family company, heading up the human resources. I work part-time hours at the office and the rest from home, which helps. But the children have to be very involved with Flint – they help me muck out and feed the horses everyday. The girls are very handy and really get stuck in, but because my son is a little wayward I have to carry him about on my back.
It’s been harder since my husband left, but I always try to arrange my riding and competitions around the days he has them. My dad also helps out – failing that I beg and plead for baby sitters!
How long have you owned Flint?
My mum passed away three and a half years ago and it was one of my driving forces to look for a new horse. I had struggled with my warmblood for six years, and although he was a lovely horse we didn’t gel as a partnership. I decided to take a step back and stop taking my riding so seriously. I wanted an all-rounder that I could have fun with.
When I found Flint it was love at first sight, he took me round Poplar Park 90cm course the second day I tried him and I knew I had to have him. It wasn’t until a few months into our flatwork training that I realised he would be a decent dressage horse and the fact he had such a workmanlike head on him and a willingness to learn made me realise dressage could be fun and rewarding. His passport name was Susan’s Choice, which I decided to change! I gave Flint my mum’s maiden name and he became Fenton’s Flint.
What do you hope to achieve with Flint in the next year?
I want to compete in a few BE90s and I’d like to have a shot at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton. In dressage I hope to go advanced medium before the spring. I need to get my flying changes sorted and then we will be ready to tackle one of those.
You found the media module the hardest part of the series – how do you feel about your new challenges on TV?
I’m really excited about the whole social media side of things, but I know I have lots of practising to do, to get it right. I am a bit worried about how I will manage with young kids, but I am certainly up for the challenge.
When I entered I didn’t think I would win – I took part for the training as I knew about Pammy. Then I got picked and when I started winning rosettes I thought, ‘Crikey, I could win this. OMG what have I signed up for?!’ It is definitely a bit daunting.
I did amateur dramatics at school, so I’ve got a bit of confidence – and I got used to filming after day one on the show, so I think I’ll be OK filming with Jenny. I don’t have as much knowledge as Rhi [last year’s winner] about all the riders, but it’s all about preparation and making sure you have the information there.
I’ve got lots of ideas for my vlogs. I’m going to video myself at shows and I also want to learn how to clip Flint on my own, so I might do a ‘how to’ on that, with my instructor. I do a lot of sports massage with Flint, so I also plan on doing a physio vlog. I’m really looking forward to it.