So following my blog from the National Championships, I’m joining you as your regular Horse & Hound dressage blogger. Some of you may know me, some of you may not, so here goes, get set and hold tight!

I’m a freelance dressage rider and trainer based in Oxfordshire. I regularly train horses and riders in both the central and south west regions of England. I’ve been lucky enough to work and train with some of the top trainers in the country, including Alice Peternell and Daniel Greenwood, who have given me the confidence to go it alone! I would not be where I am today, without the help they have given me.

It’s been a hectic couple of months while I’ve been setting up my base at Crown Farm Equestrian in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. Crown Farm is an ideal centre for me, as it has all I could possibly want: an indoor and outdoor school, so that training can continue in even the harshest of weather conditions; excellent all year round grazing, which I believe is vital for the horses to stay happy and healthy; but the major bonus for me, is the all weather gallops and miles of off-road hacking. This is perfect, not only for my younger and greener horses to go out and see the world, but also for the older horses to keep them fit, fresh and keen to do their job. Whoever said dressage riders don’t let loose sometimes clearly hasn’t met me!

I’ve been busy building up my business with riding and teaching, as well as schooling liveries and the odd bit of yard work, to keep the pennies coming in. (I’m not too posh to push a wheelbarrow just yet!) Things are starting to settle down now and I’m getting in to a rhythm, but hey, if life wasn’t busy, it would make dull reading for you all.

I believe that any horse and rider can do dressage and a lot of the horses I train are not fancy warmbloods — Welsh cobs, ex-racehorses, you name it, I’ll train it! My method is very calm and consistent. I train every horse and rider to reach the highest level they can possibly reach, whether this be unaffiliated novice — great, affiliated medium — awesome, international grand prix — perfect.

My methods may not always be the quickest way, but they ensure the basics are always established. I also train the horse and rider as a combination. I believe a rider cannot sit in perfect balance, if the horse is not going correctly underneath. Similarly, if the rider is hanging off one side, holding onto their steed’s tail, I’m not going to say that’s fine either! I like to think I’m approachable as a rider and trainer, and am always open to new ideas and methods. Knowledge is power.

So I have wittered on all this time and not even mentioned my horses yet. I currently have two horses in training. Some of you may have met Stig (pictured left) as he was my ride at the national championships. Stig is a five-year-old gelding by Stedinger. He is a big moving horse with trainability to die for. I bought him as a project to sell on a while back and he seems to have stayed. He’s got an old head on young shoulders and is quite happy hacking around the countryside one day, but is ready to trot his socks off the next.

Then there is Dalito — he is a four-year-old by Lord Leatherdale. I bought him from Carl Hester as a two-year-old. He’s just as trainable, but slightly more excitable. He is so talented, it’s like he has learnt it all in a previous life.

I also currently have an ex-racehorse in for schooling, Woody, who is owned by Jane Adair. It’s so rewarding to see a horse like this given a second chance. Jane found Woody at a racehorse re-training centre. It’s now my and Jane’s job to add another string to Woody’s bow. We hope to get him out to a few parties by the end of this year, as will Dalito after his success at the start of the year, when he contested some novice classes. Stig will be having a short holiday, after his tremendous behaviour at the nationals, before starting his winter training for next year.

Anyway, hopefully that has filled you all in and given you a little insight into who I am, I could go on for hours, but the boys will be getting hungry!

Until next time,

Matt

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