Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: Possibly the most beautiful yard in the world

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    The past few weeks have been fabulous! My little visit back to Denmark was a blast, the launch of the new Hunter field boot range saw me at Apsley House in London, I got to visit one of the most beautiful and cleverly designed dressage yards in England, I was interviewed and videoed by 2G and I have never been busier with my teaching which I love!

    It was such fun being back in Denmark and at Hoffmann Towers for a weekend, although, there was a moment (which felt like it lasted like a lifetime!) that I thought I would miss my flight!

    So, I was cruising down the motorway, knowing the route to Stansted like the back of my hand. Normally I would be returning a hire car however this time I was driving my car to an airport car park and so was following directions from an email. I was very close to the airport and having just passed a service station I thought I would fuel up when I landed back on Sunday.

    The email directions to the car park said that if I was travelling from the south to exit at junction 8a. As I drove past junction 8 for Stansted Airport, I thought, don’t panic, the next one will be 8a and it will be for the car park. I was wrong! This error very nearly saw me run out of fuel on the motorway as the next junction you can get off at is absolutely MILES away!

    As I exited the motorway with a dry mouth and clammy palms my car told me I had five miles left in the tank and still no sign of a petrol station. I was now also hitting morning rush hour traffic. Deciding to turn down a road where not many cars were going I came across a very official, high security looking complex. stopped at the gates and got out my car to ask for help at the gatehouse. The security man came to the window and said: “And you are?” to which I responded: “I am a stressed man who is about to run out of fuel and miss his flight!”

    The security man saw a funny side to this (which at the time, I really did not), but kindly directed me to a station which was just a couple of miles down the road. I put the car in neutral and rolled down the hill! I made my flight and was great catching up with everyone in Denmark and especially my friend Pernille (the reason I went) for her 70’s themed 40th birthday party.) What do you think of my hair?!


    A man worth googling

    Last Monday, I went to London for the official launch of the new Hunter collection, Duke of Wellington by Hunter Field, in Apsley House. This was made possible by my bestie, Elodie Frost AKA: PA to the stars (pictured below)! And thank you to event rider Gemma Tattersall for being in Spain on holiday which meant I could go!

    It was such a great night. The champagne flowed, all the waiters were drop dead gorgeous, new friends were made and I did rather like the new collection of boots! To put the cherry on top, model David Gandy was there…wow! If you have not seen him before, then google him! PR Ashley Rossiter, who organised our invites, was amazing and introduced me to some fabulous people so conversations flowed all night and it wasn’t until 2am that I was tucked up in bed back in Wiltshire.


    A jaw-dropping yard

    I have stocked up again with my former trainer, Hasse Hoffmann’s inspirational book, Dressage with Heart and Mind, which I sell. Fortunately, for me, I had to go down to Sussex where the books were being stored at dressage power couple, Anders Dahl and Fiona Bigwood’s home.

    Have you ever walked around a yard where your jaw keeps dropping?! It was one of those moments. Beautifully and cleverly designed by Anders, every room you walk into the light automatically comes on before you enter and the whole building gives for a very outdoor feel for the horses with its incredibly high, see-through roof. Just stunning! Everyone there, staff and clients, were so friendly and happy to give a little tour around the yard (I’m pictured below outside it).

    A couple of weeks ago, Randal Cowel of 2Gallop came to the yard to do an interview with me and some videoing of me and Dressage International Dompadour (Poppy) in action. It was a really fun afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing it put together, which I believe will be going live this week. I did see snipetts of the one he did with Laura Tomlinson and it looked great and super professional!

    2Gallop will be joining me and videoing me at the launch of the Fairfax bridle day next week which will be taking place at former Dutch international event rider Eddie Stibbe and his partner, Debbie Brookes’ beautiful Cotswold yard. I will be testing the new Fairfax double bridle with Vanessa Fairfax fitting it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Poppy thinks of it and will let you all know soon!


    Know your reins

    Talking of bridles makes me think of reins and softness to the horse’s mouth. One of the most common areas I cover in my teaching is length of rein. Many riders think that by riding on a longer rein, they are being kinder to their horses as they feel they are not putting too much pressure on the front end. This is in fact, usually, very much the opposite.

    Unless your horse is working into the contact and stretching with his nose to the ground, riding with longer reins will result in your hands coming back to your seat and tension developing in your arms and shoulders which in turn will create tension in your horse.

    Think about having a shorter rein contact and therefore, riding with your hand forward in front of the wither. This will help to keep your arms softer and relaxed and will encourage you to ride your horse forward to the bit and not riding the bit to your horse!

    Next weekend, Poppy (pictured top) and I are competing at Sparsholt College, getting ready for a premier league show at Hartpury, and will be doing a dressage demo at Baulking Grange, in Oxfordshire for their open day.

    A trip to France will be taking place before I next write to you and I do believe a spot of horse shopping in Germany is on the cards! We shall see.

    Until soon xx

    Body mind mastery quote: Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom – Anais Nin

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