It is much harder to stay at the top of your sport, now this is the year to prove ourselves and achieve more goals. We don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan.
I am working with professional riders in Norway and Sweden and we are already busy implementing their autumn plan. By now, some are set on a goal for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. So much of our riding revolves around this four-yearly event — it’s what dreams are made of.
I can remember clearly one of the most memorable moments of my career, training Norwegian rider Siril Helljesen and the mare Dorina. We were in the outdoor school at our home here in Norfolk and our local church rang the bells, calling all the athletes to London for the Games. It was a special moment and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.
I am sure our riders and trainers will have such experiences this coming year, and we wish them all good luck. I hope they will take the time to savour those moments.
For the horses, this is an important time for building strength in all their work, especially for the core muscles. Our sport is so much about expression and a real international way of going. We work on cross-training to develop and create impulsion, suppleness and agility; this helps the horse to become a body mover, not just a leg mover. It is also good for the rider to fine-tune their reactions and quickness needed for competing at top level.
European stallion shows
At this moment much work is being done to prepare stallions abroad for the major shows and I am helping Peter van de Sande and his stallion Guardian S, who is by the British-based stallion Cyden Bodyguard Moorland.
They live in Holland and will be heading off to the final KWPN stallion grading at ‘S-Hertogenbosch in February.
Many of the young horses are now under saddle, so the breaking in and long-reining has been done and exciting times are to come as we see them develop under the rider.
Trainers find it harder to access top quality stock at affordable prices, yet without good horses we will not be able to go forward in the sport. I think we should be more particular in selecting young horses and spend more time going with their nature and not trying to change it.
Here in this country there is so much to learn from the strength and vast knowledge of our top riders and trainers, so I hope we get to see our Olympic riders performing and giving demonstrations prior to leaving for the Games — this is very inspirational for the lower-level riders and gives back so much to the sport.
A change of scene
Lifestyle changes are about to be upon us, as we are downsizing and relocating to Lincolnshire. This will give us time to enjoy and compete our own horses, especially having the superb facilities of Sheepgate Equestrian on our doorstep. My foreign riders will also use Sheepgate as their UK base. Life is too short — it’s time to enjoy it!
Ref: Horse & Hound; 21 January 2016