Let’s make Eventing fun again – Bit of Britain’s Next Top Rider finalist Tosca Holmes-Smith

Tosca Holmes-Smith & Hoof Prints.


After an overwhelming response with over 100 entries, Bit Of Britain has narrowed down the finalists for the Next Top Rider sponsorships.

It has been narrowed down to 11 finalists.

Tune into www.eventingconnect.today as these 11 finalists continue to strut their sponsorship worthiness with blogs and vlogs over the next few weeks. We encourage you to provide feedback and share your favourite blogs and vlogs on social media as these young riders vie to be Bit of Britain’s Next Top Rider! Voting for the Bit of Britain’s Next Top Rider begins on December 1st. 

Be sure to use the hashtag #BofBNextTopRider

Let’s make Eventing fun again
by Tosca Holmes-Smith

Being born into a family so committed to horses meant that from day one I was completely immersed in the Eventing community. Despite the fact that horses were so readily available to me, I never felt pressured to ride or compete. The main reason that I have stuck with this crazy sport through the years is a simple one: I have always found it fun.

Since my very first pony, my parents did an amazing job of ensuring that I was not over-horsed, but also never made to ride some lazy old “plodder”. As a result, heading out to the barn was something I looked forward to. My sisters and I were more or less left to our own devices when it came to riding. We schooled cross-country ‘to death’, did gallop sets up the mountain across the road, and had “canter races” in the sand arena (which I routinely lost as Carmen was always on a bigger pony). Sure, I had my fair share of spills – you can only expect a horse to save your butt so many times – but my quick-thinking, safe ponies ensured that I was never badly hurt, and I always got right back on and tried again.


My earliest years were spent on various ponies. The first one I ever sat on, “Banner”, was a hand-me-down from Carmen, and he is exempt from my previous statement regarding “safe, suitable ponies”. Although a saint on the lunge line, Banner had a bad habit of bolting full tilt towards the end of the arena and slamming on the brakes, sending me flying into the next field over… Minor details, really. Billy was the first pony I could call my own, and he was much more to my liking, but sadly colicked soon after we bought him.


I consider a 12hh pony named “Couscous” (yes, like the food) to be my first pony of much significance to my career. Neither Couscous nor I were overly enthralled with dressage, so, for the most part, we went on trail rides, galloped, and jumped. It wasn’t until days before our first event that my mum decided I needed to learn how to ask for a proper canter transition. Dressage judges tend to frown on riders just kicking on faster until breaking from trot, citing “ineffectiveness of aids”.


I graduated from Couscous onto another pony, “Hoof Prints”. By the time I first sat on him, Prints was a twenty-some year old, but he rode more like he was eight. Prints was a 13’2hh mustang pony who was a phenomenal jumper, and game for just about anything. I competed him up to Entry level, and my main concern at events was avoiding speed penalties. Seeing as I refused to slow down, my dad would encourage me to swing as far out on corners as possible in order to waste time. It was around this time that I took my first ever dressage lessons and began to grow more competitive.

Following my years with Prints, my next partner was named “Yukon”. We bought this 14’1hh pony from a jumper barn, and my sister Carmen competed him up to Training level before I took over the ride. Yuki was quite quirky, and he taught me that the horse doesn’t always just go, sometimes they need a little extra encouragement. Yuki left me in my fair share of ditches and water jumps, but also earned me a few red ribbons* for my troubles.


A common belief in today’s equestrian community is that new riders must perfect the basics before moving on. They must be solid on the flat before jumping, must show jump well before schooling cross-country, and be competitive at their first event. I personally believe the opposite to be true. I think that riding should be something fun for people trying to get into the sport. Provided someone new to horses is proficient enough to be safe, they should be free to jump and gallop, rather than being forced to ride endless circles while perfecting their canter transitions. We wonder why so few North American kids aim to compete in the sport of Eventing, yet those who do are confined to arenas for years before being allowed to attempt aspects of the sport which they would most enjoy. Horses are obviously dangerous and unpredictable animals; however, the solution to this issue is not forcing kids to spend countless hours in arenas until they are driven to quit riding. Beginners must be supplied with appropriate horses, and then allowed to experience the thrill of Eventing that drew them to the sport in the first place. Professionals in Eventing need to do a better job of making the sport fun for beginners.

*Red ribbons go to first place in Canada


Follow Tosca on her social media and help her to become the 2018 Bit of Britain’s Next Top Rider:


2018 Bit of Britain’s Next Top Rider quest is on

The finalists have been chosen. In case you missed it, here is what will happen next:

Part 2 – We will get to learn more about each of these interesting young riders
Tune in over the month of November to find out about the unique stories behind these young riders. Riders will be submitting Blogs or Vlogs to share their stories.  This is an amazing group of up and comers with goals and dreams. Look forward to hearing about Eventing from all over North America. Be ready for stories that are going to make you laugh, cry and cheer.

Part 3 – Public voting
On Dec 1, 2017, public voting on the Blogs and Vlogs will begin on Eventing Connect for the finalists. The public voting will end on Dec 12, 2017. The public voting will account for 50% of Bit of Britain’s sponsorship decision. Other considerations will include their social media following and social media interaction from Oct 19, 2017 to Dec 12, 2017.

Part 4 – Sponsorship Announcement
On Jan 5, 2018, the sponsorships will be announced on Eventing Connect. Three riders will receive sponsorships for three different values that will include a variety of products from which the riders can choose:

  • 1st place – Gold ($1500 USD),
  • 2nd place – Silver ($1000 USD)
  • 3rd place – Bronze ($500 USD)
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