Hi, I’m Fizz and I have just taken over as yard manager to Carl Hester at his beautiful base near Newent, Gloucestershire (pictured top). In a previous life I managed the Equine Therapy Centre at Hartpury College, and suffice to say I’m very happy to be back blogging for Horse & Hound, albeit in a different guise.
Following six very enjoyable and successful years at Hartpury, I made the difficult decision to move on earlier this year. I was lucky enough to spend a few months working for Jonjo O’Neill Racing at the equine paradise that is Jackdaws Castle over the summer, when the opportunity to join the team here at Carl’s unexpectedly presented itself. The move brought about a few rapid changes, not least of which was the shock that my legs got coming from back from racing to dressage!
My association with Carl and his team goes back to the London 2012 build-up when we were asked to assist with Uthopia’s Olympic preparation by means of the water treadmill at Hartpury. Following suit in coming to the treadmill was Valegro and from the outset Alan (Carl’s travelling groom) and I became good friends. The rest, as they say, is history and I travelled to Olympia last year with Alan to help with Uthopia and Nip Tuck; which you could say with hindsight was probably my job interview!
I have to admit that coming to Oaklebrook Mill, the seat of so much success over the past few years, was a bit daunting at first. This was not least because my predecessor, Fiona Lawrence had overseen almost a decade of these glorious years, so I had big shoes to fill. We have a whole new team now, bar Alan of course, and it feels like a great time to start. Our new riders, Sadie Smith and Chloe Hunter, arrived a few weeks before me and I feel very fortunate that they, along with Alan, Carl, Charlotte Dujardin and the whole behind the scenes team have been to welcoming and supportive since I arrived.
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My role is very hands on, and I muck in with everything to keep the Hester machine moving. It’s a big team effort here and with 20 or so horses in at the moment, we’re pretty busy. Although I’m in charge of all things associated with the day-to-day running of the yard and our staff team, I’m also heavily involved with dealing with our sponsors, owners and other clients to ensure that everyone is happy. That is no mean feat when you tot up the number of companies and individuals whose support we are so lucky to have.
I hope that this blog gives you an insight into what life is like here and what it really takes to make it all happen. Alan will be contributing too, with excerpts of life as our travelling head honcho, plus sharing knowledge from his wealth of experience in the industry.
For now it’s full steam ahead here at Hester International as we try not to be swept away by the remnants of Storm Angus (I’m sure it rains more in Newent than it does anywhere else); I look forward to writing again soon!