Having seen the rise and rise of dressage in Britain, it was an honour to be asked to guest edit this special issue of H&H.
Of course the advancement of our discipline has not only been in medal and sport terms, but in what goes on behind the scenes. Attention to all the little details is how medals are won. That was part of my reason for wanting to get involved with this issue.
I find the vet feature (p14) extremely enlightening. Actually knowing what we can physically achieve with our horses — what’s proven to be biomechanically possible — wasn’t information that was available to us when I first started riding on teams.
Instead of listening to often diverse and opposing opinions, we can now work with facts. There’s no need to feel insecure about whether your horse can, for example, come up through the wither; we can look at the scientific evidence. It’s definitely worth reading.
Guest editing was a real pleasure. To come up with ideas and have the writers and editors do all the delving to find answers to my questions has really made me feel like top dog in the boardroom.
The subjects I picked for the features are not just relevant to elite sport and athletes, but to everyone involved in dressage.
One of the other interesting subjects is what all we riders do when we retire from competitive life. The dressage legends feature (p28) proves that good riders always put something back into the sport — so although no longer in the ring, it’s really not the end for these greats.
I also mined the memory banks for my picture for “the moment” (p131). Riding back in 1997, I particularly learned the importance of preparation and using skill and expertise. These days all sorts of services and treatments are made open to us through World Class. Not so long ago, we had no vet even at championships, let alone the support available through Lottery funding that we have today.
So having now won our first gold medal in the pony ranks (well done, Phoebe Peters), it finally feels like things are happening from the bottom up.
I hope British dressage will keep its global foothold. Many of you will have heard that Valegro is staying with us and we’re hopeful that the pairing of him and Charlotte Dujardin will continue to inspire the rest of us, keep standards high and bring home the medals.