‘Carl Hester knew me as the boy in chaps and tassels’ – and 8 other things you never knew about Andrew Gould

  • Andrew Gould is a well-known name on the dressage scene. But it’s been in recent years that his career has ramped up considerably, with an influx of super horsepower into his string, including his London International Horse Show 2022 ride Indigro. We find out more about him, including some things you may not know…

    1, Andrew Gould spent 30 years dreaming of riding at Olympia

    “I’ve been going to Olympia to watch since I was 12, and it was always one of the shows I wanted to ride at,” says Andrew, 42. “But it felt like an unrealistic dream and there was always an element of disappointment to keep coming back home and not having the horses to get there.

    “To get the letter to say I had been selected to ride at London International Horse Show in 2022 was amazing.”

    2. As a child, he never wanted to do dressage

    “I didn’t know what dressage was. I didn’t even know dressage existed beyond pink sheets at Pony Club,” chuckles Andrew. “I wanted to event, to be Ian Stark!”

    3. He used to ride in a somewhat unconventional getup

    “I didn’t have long boots and I used to wear chaps,” says Andrew of his first forays into dressage aged 12. “Around that time I had a lesson with Carl Hester, who had just come home from the Barcelona Olympics. He remembers me as the boy who used to wear long chaps with tassels down the side, because I wanted to be a cowboy.

    “That’s how I had all my lessons. But then one day at [Andrew’s trainer] David Hunt’s yard, they cut off all my tassels. I was mortified!”

    4. Despite being highly experienced, he still gets nervous

    “I have to work on using my nerves to my advantage and to channel my adrenaline,” he explains. “I don’t like too many people around me [at shows]. I like to go back to the lorry and be on my own. If I can watch a few horses in the ring that gets me inspired, but then I like to be left alone to do my own thing before riding.”

    5. He packs Polos for every show – but not for the horses

    “I have to have Polos when I’m competing. I don’t like to take on fluids so my mouth gets quite dry,” he reveals. “My head girl Nat and I have a really good relationship and she understands me well. When she loads the lorry for shows, she knows to load my Polos.”

    6. One of his horses has a famous son

    The 13-year-old mare Amicella is destined to make her grand prix debut in 2023, but she is already a high-achiever: it wasn’t until after owner Mandy Crouch bought her as a four-year-old that it was discovered she’d had a foal via embryo transfer (ET) – and that that foal was Valverde, now one of the most exciting young breeding stallions in Europe. Amicella has since had several more foals via ET, and Andrew is excited for their future, as well as hers.

    7. Andrew’s son Oli is already making headway in the sport

    Oli is 17 years old and is committed to building his own dressage career, despite having only seriously taken up the sport during the 2020 lockdown. He’s competing internationally in juniors, and has competed at the national and winter championships up to advance medium level with Feiner Stern II.

    Andrew is far from a pushy parent, though: “I’m still concentrating on me – I haven’t time to be pushy with Oli! His time will come and he’ll reap the benefits of experience, but he has to be patient and do the grafting part.”

    8. But his other children are less likely to follow his path

    Louis, 15, is into football and “would do anything other than come to the yard”, according to Andrew. Meanwhile four-year-old Ophelia has a Shetland pony and does mounted games at weekends, but prefers helping on the yard with feed buckets than actually riding.

    “I think she’s more likely to go into theatre actually – she loves music and singing,” says Andrew.

    9. Rugby was Andrew’s first sporting love

    “I grew up in London so at school it was all about rugby, football and athletics,” he explains. “I was captain of the rugby team and I also did hurdles.

    “Dressage was completely alien to my friends at school and it wasn’t easy when I started riding. But when I got accepted onto the British squad they thought it was kind of cool.”

    Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Andrew Gould, out in the 9 February issue of H&H. 

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