Owner file: Joan Farquharson and Leopardo

  • Leopardo, a Hanoverian by Lanthan, is owned by Joan Farquharson and ridden by Isobel Wessels.

    They are members of the international squad, training with Henk van Bergen.

    How did you come to own Leopardo?

    I went to Verden sales in 1992 with Isobel – just for fun – and promised my husband I would not buy a horse. While we were in Germany, a friend took us round some studs. I saw Leopardo as a two-year-old and fell in love with him. So I kept my promise not to buy a horse at Verden, as I bought one elsewhere! I wasn¨t looking for a horse, but he was so nice and so perfect. I have since bought his dam, who has had a filly by Donnerhall, and is due to foal to Lanthan again this year.

    How was he named?

    He was already called Leopardo, which I liked very much, but it is not to be confused with Leonardo.How did you get into dressage?

    I have ridden since I was a child – I was always horse crazy. My husband was a diplomat and we lived in various countries, but it was while we were living in South Africa that I got into dressage, having got fed up with falling off over fences. I competed up to prix st georges level.

    How did you choose your rider?

    About 15 years ago, I was at a competition near Shepton Mallet and Dr Woodward told me of two young horses she had for sale. I bought the four-year-old called Grand Lady, who at that time was being backed by Isobel. She continued riding her and we have never looked back.

    What has been your worst moment?

    When he was naughty at the national championships in 1997, especially as we knew he was capable of winning the class. It was disappointing at the time, but you get over it and I try not to take it all too seriously.

    Your ambition?

    It would be lovely to be in contention for the 2002 World Games in Jerez.

    Greatest complaint about the sport?

    Money – the lack of it – and no government interest. Thank goodness for the Inchcape Foundation, which helps towards training. Otherwise, I think the sport is well run in this country.

    Best aspect of the sport?

    At last we are getting good trainers and horses. We have always had good riders, but now they have the material to work with and we could really start to put ourselves on the map.

    Favourite venue?

    Goodwood, alas, is no more. While I enjoy the nationals, it is very much more workmanlike and it would be nice to have another prestigious location for shows.

    What do you do in your other life?

    Having enjoyed a long life in the diplomatic service, we love leading our own lives at home on the borders of Wiltshire and Dorset. I have four horses at home – two hacks I ride and two youngsters – as well as three dogs. I have lots of hobbies and particularly enjoy being on the committee of NADFAS, a fine art society for which I organise monthly lectures.

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