Videos for everyone this Christmas

  • National Hunt Review 2005/2006
    Equestrian Vision, double DVD £19.99
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    This would make a great addition to any racing enthusiast’s collection. It features the finishing stages of 91 races from the 2005-2006 national hunt season in chronological order. The action starts at Aintree in October with a battle between My Will, Supreme Prince and Impek and doesn’t stop until Lacdoudal wins the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown. All the big races such as the King George and the Cheltenham Festival are shown in full. This is a useful reference tool for the serious follower of the winter game.

    Mitsubishi Badminton 2006
    Equestrian Vision, £19.99
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    Badminton this year was where Andrew Hoy’s Grand Slam dream really came alive. Watch his immaculate performance on Moonfleet to finish on a remarkable score of 36.5 — and become the oldest winner of the Mitsubishi Trophy. This is a well-edited package of highlights from all three disciplines — although the cross-country takes up the lion’s share. Watch out for impressive performances from up-and-coming Brits Oliver Townend, Lucy Wiegersma and Sharon Hunt. And eventing’s senior superstar, Jeanette Brakewell’s Over To You, teaches his younger rivals a lesson in cross-country jumping for his fourth consecutive top-10 finish.

    The Pony Club Stable Management Series
    Equestrian Vision Double DVD, £17.99
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    This two-disc DVD would be a perfect gift for any pony-mad boys or girls who don’t yet have a pony of their own or are revising for their Pony Club tests. It is meant as a visual accompaniment to the Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship and covers all the basics from handling and leading your pony to mucking out, but also gives some useful tips on how to communicate with your four-legged friend. The second disc discusses more advanced topics such as shoeing, getting your pony fit and how to ride and lead two horses. Although nothing beats practical experience, this DVD is a good introduction to the skills involved in owning a pony.

    World Equestrian Games 2006 DVDs
    Equestrian Vision Eventing £19.99; Dressage (individual) double DVD £29.99; Dressage (team) £19.99; Show jumping £19.99; Reining £19.99; Highlights £9.99
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    Each sport from the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen has its own DVD — apart from vaulting. Whether you can’t wait to watch Zara Phillips and Toytown take gold for Britain again, Anky’s kür or show jumping’s unique horse-swapping final, there’s something here for you. If your pocket won’t stretch far enough to buy the whole lot, the “highlights” package, featuring the best bits of all the disciplines, makes the perfect stocking filler.

    “An Evening In July” with Emile Faurie and his horses
    In aid of The Emile Faurie Foundation £15, plus £1.50 p&p.
    Contact Mary-Ann Horn (tel: 01435 866766)

    “Britain’s history was born on horseback and, if we’re not careful, that’s going to disappear,” is the mantra behind this DVD, which raises funds for the Emile Faurie Foundation. The charity hopes to redress the lack of opportunities with horses for underprivileged children in cities. Emile rides Primavera, Livello and Rascher Hopes to live saxophone, flute, guitar and vocals. Get into the music and you’ll forget you’re in Merrist Wood’s indoor school in Guildford. The editor has had a great time using mirror-images reminiscent of an 1980s music video, lighting effects that have stumbled out of Studio 64 and slow motion on passage and extensions — all fabulous stuff. Snuggle up with the remains of your wine on Boxing Day and enjoy the spectacle, while lamenting that such a zenith Brit lacks a top horse and that, if we’re not careful, he could disappear into the land of entertainment for good.

    Pippa Funnell — Good Foundations: Flatwork & Jumping
    Equestrian Vision Double DVD £29.99
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    Good Foundations is a must for anyone big enough to tackle the root of most problems in the horse’s way of going — rider faults. Pippa highlights flaws applicable to 90% of riders and to fix these gives exercises you can remember in the school the next day. She is self-deprecating and light-hearted, while explaining the logic behind each instruction. Much of the focus is on the importance of the rider’s balance, with Pippa describing the effect poor position has on the horse. How many horses are dead to the leg because every time they are kicked forward the rider sticks the handbrake on with their upper body and in turn their hands. The jumping instructions, too, are simple and effective — focusing again on balance and establishing a rhythm. Pippa shares things she is constantly telling herself — they are not below a rider of her calibre nor above a real novice.

    Bravehearts of the Racing Game: Hal Cazalet
    Injured Jockeys’ Fund, £5
    www.ijf.org.uk (tel: 08080 453453)

    This song, written by Sheila Henderson, calls itself the “national hunt jockeys’ anthem”, and celebrates the high and lows of a jump jockey’s life. Sung by opera and musical theatre star Hal Cazalet, it is a rollicking and catchy tune, which you start to hum to yourself after just a couple of playings. Perhaps not the best for your dead cool teenage son, but perfect for the car on the way back from racing at Cheltenham. And the very fact that it is sold in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund means everyone with an interest in racing should buy a copy.

    Official Dressage Tests: preliminary and novice
    £17.99 each, £29.99 for both Equestrian Vision
    www.equestrianvision.co.uk (tel: 01730 892220)

    I can’t remember the last time I rode a dressage test from memory. Around the time I was riding up to four tests a week, I gave up bothering to learn any of them and had to resort to a caller every time. During the odd foray into eventing or regional dressage competitions, I panicked at the thought of actually remembering a test, while my horse would note the absence of the soothing tones of my caller and decide to spook more than ever at the judge’s car. If only I’d had the Official Dressage Tests DVDs. They show every test, performed by a decent horse and rider combo each time — presumably so you don’t spend the test going: “Well, I don’t think much of their medium trot,” — and can allow the movements to seep into your subconscious. They swap performers and locations each time, so you won’t lapse into a dressage stupor. Best of all, they’re read by Mr Dressage, Richard Davison, who helpfully adds some pointers after each test. An effective and interesting way of — if you’re unlike me — actually learning your tests.

    Land Rover Burghley 2006
    www.burghley-horse.co.uk (tel: 01780 752131)

    Could this year’s Burghley have been better scripted? Andrew Hoy’s Grand Slam attempt was a case of “so near yet so far”, producing one of the most spectacular climaxes ever seen in the modern sport, when he was dropped to second in the last phase, with victory going instead to Lucinda Fredericks — winning her first four-star aged 40 on a plucky 15.3hh mare.
    Add in beautiful weather, a few crunching falls, rider interviews by Clare Balding and expert commentary from David O’Connor, Ian Stark and Alice Plunkett and you have the perfect recipe for an exciting DVD you will want to watch again and again. A particularly enjoyable feature is the replay of Lucinda’s cross-country round at the end, with a voiceover by the winner herself.

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