Evening all! This blog post is a little bit different to normal but I hope you enjoy it :-)
I recently had a visit from one of my sponsors, Chess Jones Equestrian Collection and she asked me some really good and interesting questions which I am happy to share with you below. Chess stocks all the premium brands (and lots of "matchy matchy"!!) including Eskadron, Equestrian Stockholm, Pikeur and Eurostar. You can check out her website by clicking the link http://chessjonesequestrian.com.
Tell us about the horses you have at the moment?
I currently have two horses, rising 7 year old Keystone Diego (Doogie) and also rising 7 year old Laurentina (Tebby). I’ve owned Doogie since he was a foal so he is very special to me and will hopefully one day be my first Grand Prix horse. I’ve owned Tebby for 1 year now and she’s the first mare that I’ve owned… I’ve always been a “gelding girl" through and through but Tebby has really convinced me and I would definitely buy another mare in the future! She’s a real sweetie and always tries 110%.
What are your plans with each horse for 2018?
Both horses have a very promising year ahead of them so I’m really excited! Regionals are just around the corner and between the two horses they are qualified for 5 classes so it will certainly be a busy few days! Doogie is qualified for the novice, novice freestyle and elementary freestyle and Tebby is qualified for the novice and novice freestyle. By the spring I would like to have both horses out competing at medium level and by the end of the summer and going into the autumn I will aim for some advanced mediums with them both.
What is your idea of a potential superstar dressage horse? What do you look out for when choosing your new partner?
I think one of the best qualities a horse can have is a forwards thinking brain and brave attitude, these combined with 3 quality paces would be my idea of a future super star. When I’m searching for a new horse, the main thing I look for is a trainable temperament! It makes it a much more enjoyable training process knowing the horse is always trying for you and not being a stubborn monkey!
How many times a month do you compete? Do you struggle with nerves and how do you overcome this?
During the summer I will be out competing most weekends. In the winter I tend not to compete from November – January. I think it’s mentally really important to take a small break from competing at some point in the year. I also find this time off from competing a great opportunity to fit in some extra lessons and really bring on the horses training and knowledge. I’m very lucky that I do not suffer with nerves, I make sure that I never put too much pressure on myself and I always accept the fact that horses are not machines and some days it just doesn’t go the way you had hoped.
What movement are you learning or struggling with at the moment with each horse? How are you planning on overcoming this?
Due to Doogies size (18.2 hands!!) he has struggled learning the flying change… he always really tries but some days he just cant get his legs in the right order. He has done a perfectly clean change each way over the past few months so we know mechanically he can do it, now we just have to wait for him to get stronger which is something you cant rush. To help strengthen him up we do lots of hill work whilst out hacking and he also goes on the water treadmill once a week. Tebby has found learning the flying change easy peesy, but at 16.1 hands she’s a lot smaller and more compact so it’s physically much easier for her. Tebby has always been a little bit “down hill” and although over the last year she has transformed there is still some work to do to teach her to come more “up” through her shoulder. She has a raised trotting pole session incorporated into her training plan once a week and we have found this really helpful.
How many times do you train with your instructor a month? Why this many? Do you feel this is enough for yourself and the horses?
I train with my instructor, Gareth Hughes twice a month and I feel this is sufficient for my horses and I. Everyone is different I suppose, but I really like to come away from the lesson and work on the exercises to really consolidate them before I next see Gareth.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t a Dressage Rider?
I would definitely be doing something sporty! I’m not the most academic person but I’ve always loved sport. Before I got into riding full time I played both hockey and golf to a high level so I guess either a hockey player or a golfer!
Have you always been into Dressage or did another discipline initially interest you more?
When I was younger I always wanted to be an event rider (my mum used to event) but once I started to jump for fun at home I quickly realised that jumping was not going to be my forte! So instead I became a “dressage diva” at about 10 years old and haven’t looked back since.
What is your favourite non horsey thing to do?
As everyone knows, working full time with horses is quite full on and it becomes more of a lifestyle rather than a job, but when I do get some free time I like spending it relaxing and catching up with family and friends.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date would definitely be riding at the Junior Europeans in 2013. We were originally a non-travelling reserve for the team but 2 days before the championships were due to start we got a call to say we were going… it was a whirlwind 48 hours but a great experience and we were also the 2nd best placed Brit!
You also teach. What level do you tend to teach at? What is the hardest thing about being an instructor?
I teach a huge variety of clients all at different levels, ranging from grass roots unaffiliated level up to affiliated PSG/Int 1 level. I’d say the hardest thing about teaching is trying not to run over 45 minutes! I get so into the lesson and helping the client that I forget to check my watch and before I know it it’s already been one hour! Oops!
What is your ultimate goal in Dressage?
A very stereotypical answer to this question would be to ride at the Olympics! Of course one day I would love to compete at the Olympics but I really love the training process of bringing on a young horse up through the levels. I find it a very rewarding process seeing a “gangly” 3 or 4 year old who can barely walk, trot and canter round the arena, progress and mature into a dressage superstar. So for me, as long as my horses and I are happy doing that, then I’m achieving my goal everyday.