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Nick Skelton

Mention the name Nick Skelton to anyone in the world of show jumping and they will recall an amazing career which saw him win more equestrian competitions than any other rider in history. His popularity remains as great in Geneva, Aachen, Spruce Meadows and Paris as it is on his home turf of Hickstead and Olympia.

In a career spanning more than four decades, Skelton competed in an astounding eight Olympic Games, winning the gold medal with the Great Britain team at London in 2012 and subsequently making history when he was an individual gold medal winner at the age of 58. At Rio in 2016, he rode his beloved mount, Big Star.

Skelton appeared destined to become a great rider when he first took to the saddle at the tender age of 18 months, riding his Welsh pony Oxo. Born on 30th December 1957 in Coventry, Skelton grew up with Oxo who was born in the same year and had a lifelong association with the pony. In fact, both of Skelton's children learned to ride on Oxo, who lived to be 39 years old.

Skelton had little professional tuition before riding in pony classes as a child. However, when he was 14, he turned to famous show jumping family Ted and Liz Edgar for guidance, working part-time for them for two years and then joining them full-time after he left school at 16.

He enjoyed early success on his horse Maybe, who sadly went lame before the 1975 Junior European Championships. Skelton thought he'd lose his place in the team but another horse, Okay, was hastily substituted and amazingly, they went on to win the individual gold medal.

In 1978 when Skelton was 21, he rode Lastic and set a new British jump record at Olympia by clearing 7ft 7.3ins - the record remains unbeaten to this day. The following year riding St James, Skelton joined the senior Great Britain team to which he was integral until 2016.

He has competed in many European Show Jumping Championships and won numerous team and individual medals. In the Alternative Olympics of 1980, he led the British team to the silver medal. He forged a long-lasting partnership with his horse Apollo from 1985 and they won many top prizes and trophies, including the Hickstead Derby in 1988 - after the bay gelding retired, Apollo enjoyed a long life until 2006, when he died at the age of 31. Skelton teamed up with Dollar Girl to win the 1995 World Cup Final in Gothenburg.

A serious fall in 2000 caused Skelton to cut short his career after he broke his neck - it appeared to be the end of his competitive show jumping days. Amazingly, he came out of retirement two years later to compete at the top level again.

During his long career, Skelton rode in 164 Nations Cups teams between 1978 and 2011 and thanks to his gold medal win at Rio 2016, he became the oldest British Olympic gold medallist in 108 years! He was appointed OBE in the Queen's 2012 Birthday Honours list for services to equestrianism and in 2017, he also received the CBE in the New Year Honours.

Skelton and his famous horse Big Star finally bowed out of competitive show jumping during emotional scenes in front of the Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May. He said he "wasn't getting any younger" and it was time to go, while he and Big Star could end their career together on the "highest note possible". His autobiography, "Gold: My Autobiography", is due for release on 19th October.

The safety of your horses should always be a top priority, both in the stables and in transit. Coruba’s range of rubber horse matting includes the horse box partition rubber skirt and animal transporter ramp mats for safe access to the horsebox – invaluable to anyone who takes part in equestrian competitions or events. See our full range of horsebox rubber matting products on our website or contact us for further details.

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