Lauren Shannon’s blog: ambassadors, disappointments and Olympic legacy

  • Well I hope everyone’s eyes were glued to ITV1 last night for the first part of Jennifer Saunders’ program “Back in the Saddle”. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer through the filming and my outside chance at the Olympic Games with Louie was documented.

    It was great to see last night, and I think there is no better ambassador for horse sport than Jennifer. The program did a brilliant job of humanising and relating the horse world to a wider audience, and I cannot wait to see the second part!

    It was quite emotional for me to watch, because I have sadly had to withdraw Louie from Burghley this September. When Badminton was cancelled in the spring — and realistically that was our only outside shot at an Olympic spot — we decided to focus all our attention on Burghley. Louie has always gone well at our local four star event, and he has twice jumped double clears there, so I was hoping to get a top five finish there this year.

    However, Louie sustained a very small injury when I ran him at an event in July and, although he isn’t lame, I run the risk of injuring him further if I run him again this year. I have been through so much with this horse and I value him too much to risk his health and future for one good result. Therefore “Fat Louie” will now have a holiday so he will be able to come out next year fighting fit and ready to take on four-star events once again!

    This isn’t the end of the world, but it does bring into sharp relief the issue that I do not have a string of horses to run at top level. No event rider can rely on one horse. I need to make sure that I work hard with the amazing horses and owners I have, while trying to find more support to bring new horses up the levels. I am not the only rider in this predicament, and programs like “Back in the Saddle” can only help all of us riders to find support in new places, as long as we are all willing to utilise these opportunities.

    In the news, all we are talking about now is the legacy of the Olympic Games. After the brilliant results of our equestrian teams, you would think this legacy would be easy to come by. However, I truly believe that the legacy for the equestrian world is one we will manufacture. Never before has equestrianism had so much coverage in the general media. It’s our job as riders to advocate our sport to the masses, and only then can we reap the rewards of bringing more support and money into the sport which will help us to keep winning those all important medals!

    Anyway, in the short term, I am looking ahead to Blenheim with Lux. We will be contesting the eight and nine year old championships there, but as she is only eight I will not be pushing her too hard. Again, she is another very special horse and my mind has to be kept on her future!


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