One horse competing at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships hasn’t had a conventional journey getting here.

Albertho B, a 13-year-old gelding owned by Di Hayes, only started dressage two years ago. Prior to that he was a driving horse in Holland.

“Di brought Albertho over from Holland for her to compete in driving competitions,” explains Katharine Lewis who now rides the chestnut — a Tuigpaard (Dutch Harness Horse). “I then started riding him once a week at Di’s yard on Salisbury Plain to help improve his driving dressage marks. He showed promise as he’s a great mover and when Di decided to retire from competition, I took him on to compete in ridden classes.”

Katharine had to start from scratch in some of Albertho’s work.

“In the type of driving competitions he was doing, Albertho didn’t have to canter, so it was like riding a four-year-old,” explains Katharine, who rides and teaches from her Hampshire base. “He couldn’t maintain his canter and he was used to being worked and competed in blinkers, so when those came off, he saw the world in a whole new way! He also had no idea what my leg was and was initially complete dead to my leg aids. The first test I did on him, I could have ridden him using his ears for reins — his head carriage was so high, as is typical for driving horses.”

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But despite all of this, Katharine has high hopes for Albertho, with whom she was competing in the Equi-Trek elementary gold championship this week.

“In his training, when the penny drops with regards to what I’m asking him, that’s it — he’s got it,” she says. “He likes working and finds half passes very easy. His canter pirouettes are also good as he’s learnt to sit very well. Hopefully we’ll get here for the advanced medium championship next year.”

For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s (19 April 2018) issue of Horse & Hound magazine