The British Ethnic Riders Federation CIC

An Interview With Darbi

An Interview with Darbi Johnston-Murphy age 15yrs (2012)

1) I first started riding when I was 18 months old (1998) on my very, very first pony called Misty she was a tiny grey Shetland. I don’t really remember much about her as I was very little, but Mum says that I loved riding her and did not want to get off! She would just plod around and I would just sit on her just smiling! I would spend hours just brushing her and playing with her in the field.




2) My competition journey started on another grey loan pony called Albert. I started showjumping on the lead rein. That was so much fun and I won my first rosette when I was 2yrs old!! When I was 5, I was lucky enough to have a super pony called Sammy. He was a beautiful chestnut gelding with a gorgeous flaxen main and tail. I did my first Cross Country competition on him. I grew up breaking ponies with my mum and had the opportunity to ride 14 more ponies before I got JJ.




JJ was amazing, he taught me how to ride with respect, If I didn’t ride properly he would buck me off or run away with me!!! I remember taking my jacket off one day and he waited until my arms were both behind my back before he bucked, the next thing I knew I was sitting on my bottom and he was down the field grazing!! We did pony club together and my ambition was to go to Burghley and in 2009; I did! We got 17th in the UK at the Burghley Mini Event Pony Championships.





3) Jessie is my 6 year old chestnut mare. My Mum bred for me to event, we have had her since she was literally born. I broke her in with my Mum and I have done all her schooling. I had a really good time teaching her to jump. She did her first Cross Country in 2010 when she was just 4yrs old and she got 6th place. She is so lovely to ride, she is soft in the mouth and really sensitive.




4) I try and ride every day but it is really hard because it is dark when I get home from school, and it is also really dark in the morning which is really annoying because my horse loses fitness if she gets too much time off in the week, so my mum rides her for me when I’m at school to keep her fit so that I can compete at the weekends. I do train some evenings with my trainer. Riding is quite difficult to fit in because of all my homework and getting the school buses in the morning. We won the Pony Club Area Eventing at Burghley and also qualified for the Pony Club Novice Championships in Kelshall, and our Pony Club come 3nd overall.





5) My other hobbies are singing which I love and I have singing lessons once a week and I am now taking my singing grades at level 5. I also love to go ice skating and to play badminton.

6) Generally, my mum looks after Jessie, but when I am at home, I do everything with her. She lives out all year round and is really happy. She has no vices and wouldn’t dream of bucking or rearing or being naughty.

7) My ambition is to be an event rider, but there was never anyone who looked like me or any or my Mum, we always stood out. There were no ‘role models’ for me to look up to, but because I have always had horses in my life, I didn’t think anything of it, however I still have to think about what I will do if it is not possible to ride. So I am studying Biology I would like to go to University to be a Biology or Drama or singing teacher.

8) My favorite piece of horsey equipment is my ‘Point Two’ air jacket because it is amazing and will keep me safer when I am on the cross- country phase. It is funny because I did jump off Jessie one day when I was attached to the lanyard, it frightened the life out of me when it inflated as I landed!! It cost mum £17.00 for a new canister…won’t be doing that again!

9) In the winter my Mum will hack out during the week, and I ride and compete during the weekend, but in the summer, I ride every day on the flat or I might hack out at least 3 times a week. We have some fantastic hills near us and this helps to get Jessie really fit.

10) I would like to thank my Mum for which none of this would have ever happened and my coaches Caroline Petefield (PC and BE), Steph Cooper (BD), Joanne Burns (BSJA) and Lionel Dunning (BSJA). The most important tip I can give to other riders is to concentrate on flat work which will help you to jump better.

11) Although my favorite discipline is Eventing, I think Dressage is the basis of all good riding, it has helped me to become a more balanced, sensitive rider and has helped Jessie to carry herself and to use her hind quarters effectively. Her jumping has come on leaps and bounds as her canter is so balanced and elevated.






12) I have recently been selected for the Lincolnshire Elite Athlete Programme (LEAP), which support young talented athletes. I was the first equestrian to have been selected for
this programme in Lincolnshire. It is designed to provide a support structure to enable athletes to progress to the Olympic games. I was selected out of 200 athletes and have gained Level 1 Regional standard. Part of this programme was to visit schools so I became a ‘Role Model’ to other young children to inspire them to participate in equestrian sports. It was great talking to the children; they were so enthusiastic.






13) If I won the lottery, I would buy an old farm with lots of out-buildings and renovate them into a house and a stable yard, with a menage and an indoor school. I would have a fantastic cross- country course and I would set up a riding academy to help young riders who have not been given the opportunity achieve their equestrian and academic goals. Mum said that I was the youngest ‘mixed race’ girl ever to ride Pre Novice, British Eventing in the UK! I am very excited about that as it is a fabulous achievement that I have worked really hard for.

14) I have had a couple of nasty falls when I was younger and last year, I broke my ankle which was extremely painful, however I try to do everything properly and safely. I always wear a hat and gloves and always wear a day glow when out hacking.

15) I get so nervous just before I go in a ring it is unbelievable, it’s like I am going to be sick because I have 100 butterflies in my belly. I am having to learn to take big deep breaths before I go in. But once I have started the nerves go away and I really love the feeling and take the jumps in my stride. My favourite venue so far would be when I was 12yrs old at Shelford Manor Horse Trials because I rode against my hero Oliver Townend.














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