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Furman and Fletcher ride to glory



When Erela Furman and her horse, Fletcher, won the show jumping competition at the 2024 Hollard Equipage Pre-Easter Show at Kyalami Park Club in Johannesburg last weekend, it proved that you can lead a horse to water, and make it drink.

Johannesburg-based Furman, who turns 18 in April, says she has put a lot of time and effort into teaching her horse, Fletcher, the skills needed to succeed in show jumping, and he willingly gave her everything in return. “He did everything I asked of him, and more,” she says.

There were 55 riders in her class, the 90cm jump, at the show. Her competitors included top adult South African show jumpers. “We each had to ride around a course on our horse and remember a certain order to jump in,” Furman says. “If you knock any of the poles when doing a jump, you don’t place.”

All the other horses were the best-bred show jumping horses in South Africa, Furman says. “My horse wasn’t bred to jump, so it was very difficult to train him, but it feels rewarding that I won against horses that were bred to jump big.”

Furman says her horse wasn’t produced for her. “I had to train him myself, and do it the hard way. It took two years to get up to this point. I had a big accident last year. I fell off and broke my collarbone and my knee. It took me a really long time to heal. I didn’t give up, and promised my horse that I would never give up on him.” She never believed the naysayers who weren’t convinced about Fletcher’s potential.

Furman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the fall. “It was traumatic. I would sometimes remember the fall when I was riding, and it was nerve-wracking, but I just kept pushing through it and stuck to my promise.”

Furman keeps Flecher in a modest stable in Midrand. “On the two days a week that I don’t train with him, I still visit him and give him carrots and treats. I also teach him tricks. There’s never a day that I don’t go to give him carrots and affection. He definitely knows how much he’s loved. We have a really close bond. When I arrive there, I call him, and he knows my voice. He comes up to me and brings with him the other horses in the stable.”

Furman describes Fletcher as an understanding and patient horse. “He has helped me emotionally. After my accident, I still went to visit him almost every single day for six months. I feel like I just healed so much quicker when I was around him.”

Having completed matric last year, she’s studying for an international diploma of horsemanship at the Beaulieu Equestrian Academy, which has given her an array of opportunities including shadowing a vet treating horses and professional saddle fitters.

“I’ll have job opportunities as a rider producing the top horses,” she says. “I dream of doing well and of being one of the best riders – if not the best – in South Africa, and competing all over the world one day.” Perhaps she’ll be the next Gonda Betrix, the South African Hall of Fame inductee who won all major South African show jumping titles and competed at the 1992 Olympics.

That said, Furman does show jumping because she loves horses. “Competing is just a bonus for me. It’s so important to have a bond with your horse because the horse will then do what you ask for and more.”

When Fletcher’s previous owners were going to sell him, Furman was devastated. “I was riding him four times a week at the time.” Not wanting to lock the barn door after the horse has bolted, Furman managed to get him as her own horse.

Since then, she has been working like a horse to get Fletcher where he is now. “If you give Fletcher to someone, a very good rider, on a platter, they still wouldn’t know how to ride him,” she says. “We’ve had to work at so many different strategies as he isn’t like other horses.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Veronica Balaj

    Mar 26, 2024 at 10:43 am

    What a story, thank you so much for sharing.
    Am Israel chai!
    Let them go, NOW!

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