WHEN it comes to discovering rough diamonds, you either have that natural eye for a jewel or you don’t. One such woman, whose record for scouting out champions of the future precedes her, is Julie Helliwell. Alongside her daughter, the equally talented horsewoman Rachael Helliwell, the pair have cemented a reputation for discovering and producing young horses and ponies for the show ring. And many Team Helliwell-sourced animals, of all types and classes, are still enjoying success on the circuit today.
“We love finding youngsters,” confirms Rachael. “Breaking them, getting them going and putting them on the map before ultimately selling them and watching them go on and do well in their new homes.”
While one may question working so closely with a relative day in and day out, it’s clear that Rachael and Julie complement each other in every aspect of the business.
“I have an eye for a bigger picture, but Rachael picks up on all the small details,” says Julie. “She never leaves a single hair unturned; we can’t afford to. Rachael does everything to the letter and if something isn’t exactly right, she’ll change it. Then when everything is in place, we put Harriet on top and have a discussion – we all have our input.”
Harriet, 21, is the daughter of Julie’s best friend Shirley Dennison and has been based with the Helliwell's since she first sat in a saddle. She’s one of the circuit’s most consistent young riders and could ride the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) centre line with her eyes closed. Although Julie and Rachael’s prodigy, she’s also part of the family.
“Shirley is my friend from my hometown in Greater Manchester and when I moved up to Lancaster in 1989, she would come and stay with me at least once a month,” says Julie, who only started showing when she moved north and Rachael and her two other children, Rebecca and Richard, were old enough to ride.
“On one visit, we set Shirley up on a blind date; that’s how she met Harriet’s dad. She eventually moved up here and Harriet has been with us since day one. She was always here on the weekends when she was growing up and she’s never left.”
THE Helliwells have been situated at their current base – a 23-acre farm just outside the market town of Kendal in the Lake District – for 13 years. There are 15 stables, an outdoor arena and plenty of land for riding on, Rachael crediting the hilly terrain for the horses’ stamina and fitness.
“The big hill at the back of the house is our secret weapon,” she says. “It’s about a mile and a half long and when you ride up it, you can really feel the horses working across their backs. We also swear by hacking.”
As well as the equestrian business, the family-run two-holiday homes and a caravan site. Rachael also has three children – Charlie, Archie and Florence – with her partner Marc Rendell. Her brother Richard’s wife, Faye Helliwell, is also involved with the horses.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Horse Deaths After Horsebox Breakdown Raises Questions
A recent tragic event amplifies concerns among horsebox owners about what to do when a breakdown occurs
‘I often learn from the riders'
Leading course-designer Graham Barclay on how the game has changed
The former exhibition rider and side-saddle princess reveals to Alice Collins how her debut Olympic success has hit her like a bolt out of the blue
‘This was Gemma's day'
Gemma Tattersall shows her pure showjumping experience in coaxing a clear from a tired Chilli Knight, as the placings are tweaked behind her
‘Riders hate it – but it's here to stay'
Mark Phillips on the frangible penalties given at Tokyo and Bicton
Pandemic highlights need to plan ahead to avoid laminitis
Clarity is needed on what owners can do for their laminitis-and obesity-prone horses in the event of future lockdowns
Riders speak out over frangible penalties
The automatic award of 11 penalties for breaking any frangible device is causing debate
Medal-hunting on familiar turf
Carl Hester discusses the Europeans and our inspiring Paralympic team
Longer turnout may mean a reduced risk of equine injury
A study found that horses who spent more time out were less likely to sustain soft-tissue damage
Creating a greener equestrian industry
A number of brands are coming up with innovative solutions to help make our industry more sustainable
Quick Toke with Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie, DAYS)
Hot or Not?
On the handling of ambiguous emergencies
SEASON PREMIERE 9/8c, CBS
Help, my teacher is a nightmare!
TEACHER GETTING YOU DOWN? HERE’S HOW TO HANDLE THE SITCH BEFORE THEY SQUASH YOUR FRESH FALL VIBE.
In Her Wildest Dreams
Tales of the Crochet Widower
I learned to crochet in 2001, relatively late in life, after 40 years of sewing. My husband, then a New York City sanitation worker, brought home a box of hooks that he rescued from life in a landfill. He gave me the box and said, “Can you do something with these?”
The Group Portrait: These Finders Are Keepers
Archivists, librarians, and staff check back in.
Hot Show Summer!
Soak up the sundrenched season with these 19 new premieres, returning favorites, and must-see movies.
All Things Bright And Beautiful
For some, it’s a walk on the beach. For others, a poignant interaction with a loved one. But however we describe “beauty,” one thing’s for certain: It’s always more than skin deep.
The Dreams We Shared
Was there any way I could bridge the gap between my daughter and me?