Dressage videos 28 videos

James Burtwell was what you might describe as busy at the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships at Hartpury (12-16 April).

The rider, trainer and dressage judge qualified no less than five horses for the championships, which meant he had to ride 13 tests in total.

“It wasn’t the plan to have so many horses here but when they all qualified I thought it would be a shame for any of them to miss out,” explains James who is based in Hampshire. “Yesterday (13 April) I had six tests to ride.”

James bought all five of his championship rides at the Westphalian Sport Horse Auction.

“None of them were expensive,” he says of his string who are aged six and seven, bar one nine-year-old.

Yesterday James found himself with 30 minutes maximum to warm up.

“On the whole it was a lot less than that though,” he admits. “It’s not ideal preparation but they all coped well.”

James had a total of eight freestyle (dressage to music) floor plans to remember too, which sounds like an almost impossible task.

“Each one had different music and floor plans,” he says. “I must admit that I got lost a couple of times and made bits up as I went along, but I don’t think anyone noticed!”

James Burtwell and Verano

Of course, behind every busy rider is a busy groom, but the freelancer James had booked for the show got stuck out in Spain while grooming for someone else on the showjumping sunshine tour.

“I’m very fortunate to have kind and capable owners — we all mucked in to help get horses ready and it’s been great fun,” says James. “I must be an organiser’s nightmare too, with all of the start times to sort, but Hartpury makes is easy.”

Continued below…

James says he is exhausted but he has a trip to the States booked for next week.

“I’m lucky that I get to go away and have a little break, doing some teaching and going to Kentucky,” he explains.

For a full report from the British Dressage winter championships and the Area Festival final — as well as news, views and expert comment — pick up a copy of Horse & Hound magazine next Thursday (20 April).