Becky Moody and Jagerbomb burst onto the grand prix scene in early 2023, and quickly established themselves as one of Britain’s very best combinations. So much so that, not only were they selected as travelling reserves for this year’s European Dressage Championships, but they went on to win the grand prix freestyle at the National Dressage Championships shortly afterwards.
But it may be surprising that, despite her super results with her home-bred nine-year-old Jagerbomb this season – and her world ranking rocketing from 258th to 44th – Becky almost didn’t even put their names forward for the selectors’ consideration ahead of the Europeans.
“I genuinely hadn’t even factored putting our names forward for the team into my plan for this year, and I didn’t until an hour before the deadline,” laughs Becky, revealing that it was her elder sister Hannah, also a grand prix rider and trainer, who gave her the required nudge.
Becky explains that her hesitation stems from the confidence slump she has borne over the past few years, which many riders will be able to relate to.
“I had a couple of horses who were very successful at small tour, who proved tricky with the grand prix work and didn’t find things like piaffe and passage easy. That impacted my confidence riding those movements,” she confesses.
“As riders, I think we don’t realise how much that can happen until afterwards, and it affects your mentality and confidence. I remember training with Carl and he’d say I was riding a piaffe well, and I’d say, ‘No, I’m not’. But Bomb is starting to make me feel that, actually, I can do it. He’s helping me turn down that final centre line of a grand prix and keep thinking positively.
“It’s common among riders to think that if your horse has a weakness, and especially if you have a few with the same weakness, that it’s all because of you,” she continues. “But it’s so important to understand that challenges with one horse don’t have to affect how you ride others.”
And despite all her experience – and her British Dressage competition record that runs to over 1,800 entries – Becky says some things are still clicking into place for her, courtesy of her trainers Carl Hester and David Hunt.
Recent revelations have been around the level of commitment required from horse and rider during a grand prix – “not commitment to working hard but the level of true acceptance and willingness and rideability needed in a test,” she explains. “That’s something David has been trying to help me understand and it’s taken a long time”.
Dressage is a journey, with new learnings and challenges at every stage. Becky currently has the best collection of horses she has ever had, but things haven’t all been plain sailing.
On the cusp of grand prix is James Bond, aka Q, the nine-year-old Desperado stallion owned by Jo Cooper and Pat and David Webster. He was recently crowned prix st georges supreme champion, but Becky says, “It’s taken a while for him to find his work ethic.
“He’s never been naughty, but I couldn’t find the key to get everything to fall into place. But now I’m so excited to campaign him alongside Jagerbomb at grand prix next year.”
Then there’s Jack Diamond, known as Legs, another nine-year-old owned by Jo, Pat and David, and he has been a reminder that horses’ development rarely follows a straightforward path.
“He’s also heading towards grand prix; at one point he was a step ahead of Q, and then they swapped around and now Legs is taking more time,” Becky says. “He has ridiculous movement, and is so expressive but can collect too. I’m not rushing him – he’s not quite ready for grand prix yet, and that’s OK.”
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