Harry Allen: “I love learning from the horses”

The reigning double European gold medalist, Harry Allen, has now made the transition to horses, leaving his pony days behind him. His next step on the career ladder involves moving to Germany, to join up with his two older siblings at Ballywalter Farms.

By Becky Murray. Photos Therese Alhaug

The surname Allen is already well-known across the international showjumping circuit with the success of Bertram, but now making waves is younger brother – 16 year old Harry Allen. Born in 2001 in County Wexford, Ireland Harry Allen began riding at 7 years old.

“I started riding on 12.2hh ponies. I did a bit of hunting which I think certainly makes you a bit braver!”

With Harry’s siblings April, Bertram, Lucy and Grace already competing in showjumping it was perhaps natural that Harry would soon follow them into the sport.


“I got some of Bertram’s ponies. I always really enjoyed it and I had nice ponies so that really helped.”

There is one notable pony that has served the Allen family enormously, the favourite 14.2hh bay mare Cassandra known at home as Angel. Cassandra previously led Lucy, Grace and Bertram to success and it was this remarkable mare that would set Harry on the road to his own international success.

“The pony Cassandra taught me the most; she is a very special quality pony and always tried her hardest. Angel is now retired but we will breed from her next season. She has been a wonderful pony for my family.”


Harry certainly didn’t waste a second on his final year on ponies accomplishing outstanding success by securing the gold medal in both the individual and team event at the 2017 FEI European Pony Jumping Championships in Kaposvar, Hungary aboard Cassandra. You could be forgiven for thinking that the young Irish rider would feel the pressure going into such a huge event but a relaxed Harry didn’t think of the medal beforehand.

“I just jumped each round individually – I didn’t think about the medal at all, you just think about each round.   After the last round we’d won! It was a very good feeling!”

Whilst on the road Harry had to juggle his studies with his busy competition schedule and would take his books with him to keep up with his studies.

Harry together with the legendary showjumping stallion Romanov, one out of five breeding stallions handled by Ballywalter Farms.

Whilst Harry made his way to European victory, he had two of his biggest fans at their home in Germany rooting for him – Bertram and sister, April. Bertram and April are based at Ballywater Farm in Hunxe, Germany.

“I was at home watching Harry! It gave me great satisfaction, I was very, very proud of him to do that” says Bertram.

Following Harry’s success in Hungary he was later nominated for the 2017 FEI Rising Star Award – a remarkable acknowledgement for the young Irish rider. Looking to the future Harry has now made the transition to horses leaving his pony days behind him.

Harry’s enjoying a ride out with Hector. Whenever he has the time, Harry will visit his siblings in Germany to help out with the horses.

“I didn’t find the transition to horses particularly difficult. The stride is obviously bigger but you just need to not overcomplicate it. When I was still on 14.2hh’s I would ride horses out with Bertram, and I just kept doing a bit more. I’ve never had any fear when trying a new horse, as long as you have a good horse with good scope then it’s not an issue. You just have to take your time and try different things.”

“I didn’t find the transition to horses particularly difficult. The stride is obviously bigger but you just need to not overcomplicate it.”

Harry has had a good team behind him counting Captain Con Power and wife Margaret Power and Billy Twomey as his trainers. Reflecting on his successful year Harry puts it down to the bond he has with horses.

“I am quite competitive, I enjoy riding the hot blood horses and I love learning from the horses. When you are riding them every day you learn a bit more about them and they learn a bit more about you”.

Whilst Harry is competitive in the ring, the competitive nature doesn’t extend to his well-known sibling Bertram.

“Bertram and I get on very well. We’re not competitive with each other! Bertram will help me as much as he can even if I’m jumping against him. We talk a lot about jumping but we don’t really look at it competitively. We share ideas and really just work together.  Bertram is very focused and knows what he is doing but I really just see him as my brother!”

“I am quite competitive, I enjoy riding the hot blood horses and I love learning from the horses. When you are riding them every day you learn a bit more about them and they learn a bit more about you”.


With the future firmly in sight Harry is looking to make the permanent move to Ballywater Farm to join Bertram and April, something they are all looking forward to.

“It’s really good that Harry is moving out. The three of us work well together and Harry moving out will only make the team stronger” says April. “When it comes to their personalities Harry and Bertram are quite different – Harry is outspoken and chatty and Bertram is quieter but they get on so well together and bounce off each other. They always look after each other and discuss what’s going well, or when they should try something different.”

April speaks fondly of Harry’s relationships with the horses.

“Harry is very caring; he enjoys spending a lot of time with the horses.   He is so kind natured, he is really into what is happening on a daily basis and what the horses are doing.”

The horses are well taken care of when Harry is around. Together with the breeding stallion Guinness.

On Harry’s move Bertram is just as positive as April about the younger sibling’s plans to join them.

“It’s fantastic that Harry is moving out, it will be great for him and I’m looking forward to it – I think we’ll be a very good team! Harry is very keen and he has done very well. He has a very nice way with the horses, he might not be the strongest in the world but he finds a way to make himself as effective as he can. I’m very proud of him! Harry has a few of his own horses and the rest we will do together.”

Hacking out: Romanov enjoying his retirement together with Harry.

Harry has great respect for other riders with some of his favourite riders including Ludger Beerbaum, Scott Brash and Marcus Enhing.

“I admire those riders, they have different parts that they do very well, they’re very good riders!”

2018 is looking bright for Harry Allen with some new partnerships.

“I ride around six horses a day and next year I will compete Quick Nina, a super little mare we bought from Axel Verloy and I have a new eight year old horse Dis Moi Tout that I’m very excited about.”

On his future, the determined young rider certainly intends to keep making his mark on the showjumping circuit.

“My dream is to be up there in the top ten riders in the world!”


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