Ride of my life: Jennie Loriston-Clarke

  • Jennie Loriston-Clarke recalls her ride on Dutch Courage at the 1978 World Dressage Championships

    After finishing 18th in the intermediaire II, I worked Dutch Courage for two hours before the team grand prix, including trotting him up the Goodwood gallops, before I even dared go in front of our team trainer, Ernst Bachinger. We finished eighth, which qualified us for the individual ride off.

    I’d only ridden one grand prix special with Dutch Courage before, and as a nine-year-old he was relatively new to the level, so I had few expectations.

    I was drawn first to go and felt rather apprehensive, even more so when I saw the beautifully prepared sand arena with an immaculate centre line – every footfall was going to be left for all to see.

    I thought: ‘Come on boy, we have really got to perform here.’

    Then I felt him respond and relax into the contact. We entered the arena and he just folded into the halt – which took me by surprise – and waited perfectly, standing square before trotting off beautifully.

    He performed his best extended trot and the half passes just flowed.

    In the extended walk he stayed attentive and went into 12 beautiful piaffe steps followed by passage which was his forte.

    These wonderful movements earnedhim eights and a nine, which really brought the marks up. He seemed so well balanced and I felt I could really ride him.

    Though the pirouettes were not fantastic, the changes in between were straight and spot on. And then, when most horses begin to tire for the final passage and piaffe tour, he just carried himself down the centre line.

    He just kept going for me with no tension. He had never felt so relaxed, both mentally and physically, before – I felt it was the best he had ever given. I was satisfied he had done all I’d asked.

    When I was still in the lead after Harry Boldt, the 1977 German national champion, I realised we must have been better than I thought and it became rather exciting. In the end, the last two riders, Uwe Schulten-Baumer with Slibowitz and Chrisitne Stuckelberger with Granat, who was very much the superstar of the time, beat me.

    In the line-up I felt very proud. Getting a medal on Britishsoil was my dream. The medal is now in the display cupboard and we had a replica made and set in one of Dutch Courage’s shoes to give to his co-owner, Mrs Steele.

    Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (5 September) where Anneli Drummond-Hay talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ at the first event Burghley Horse Trials on Merely A Monarch.

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