A penchant for junk food, a fear of umbrellas and a dislike of collecting rings might not scream equine superstar to you. But here is our pick of 5 top dressage mares currently competing for Britain — quirks included.
Current rider: Nikki Crisp
Career highlights: Nikki has owned and produced Pasoa since 2002. The pair were test competitors for the 2012 London Olympic Games and were part of the victorious British Nations Cup dressage team at Hickstead in August 2013. They have competed at Aachen CDIO5* for the past two years.
You might not know that… “Pasoa likes bananas and is addicted to junk food — Pringles and Chewits are her favourites,” says Nikki.
Current rider: Pippa Hutton
Career highlights: Pippa and Duela finished fourth as individuals at the 2013 young rider dressage European Championships in France. “The ride she gave me was what I’ve been dreaming of all these years,” Pippa tells H&H. “Her temperament is to die for — as soon as I enter at A it feels as if it is just me and Duela together as one.”
You might not know that…“Duela has always hated other horses — it’s almost impossible to warm up in a collecting ring,” says Pippa. “At the 2011 Europeans there was one indoor arena to warm up in and 35 foreign horses working — a nightmare!”
3. Half Moon Delphi
Damsire: West Wall
Current rider: Michael Eilberg
Career highlights: Half Moon Delphi won the grand prix special at Vidauban CDI3* in February 2012 and at Hartpury CDI3* in July 2013. The pair were part of the bronze medal-winning team at the European Dressage Championships in August 2013.
You might not know that… When Half Moon Delphi is scared, her instinct is to put her head up and run. She’s also not a fan of umbrellas.
4. DV Stenkjers Nadonna
Current rider: Gareth Hughes
Career highlights: “Each year at grand prix she gives us another unexpected highlight,” Gareth tells H&H. “Last year was the best so far. We hit 70% at grand prix, were on two winning Nations Cup teams and were on the British team for the European Championships.”
You might not know that… “She has very set views on how she thinks things should be done — but she is ruled by her stomach!” says Gareth.
5. Woodlander Farouche
Sire: Furst Heinrich
Current rider: Michael Eilberg
Career highlights: The “supermodel” of the dressage world was crowned 5-year-old champion at the world breeding championships in Verden, Germany, in 2011 and the following year she took the world breeding championships for 6-year-olds — twice posting the top score of 10. She became the only mare ever to have won the competition for both age groups, and joined the elite group of double winners that includes the stallions Florencio (WEST) and Astrix (KWPN).
You might not know that… According to the mare’s breeder and joint- owner, Lynne Crowden, as a foal, Farouche was “definitely not very attractive and had a pink nose like a little pig — she was called the ‘Ginger Pig’”.
Don’t miss this week’s dressage special of Horse & Hound magazine, guest-edited by Olympic gold-medallist Carl Hester (27 March 2014)
Who is your favourite dressage mare? Let us know below…