The sport of dressage often comes with certain stereotypes, but outside the pristine white boards of the arena, there are plenty of dressage riders getting up to antics you might not expect...
1. An Olympic gold medallist goes hedge-hopping
Olympic gold medallist Laura Tomlinson has been known to swap the dressage arena for a spot of hedge-hopping recently aboard her trusty hunter Dan. And, perhaps unsurprisingly given that she is married to England polo player Mark Tomlinson, Laura also enjoyed indulging in some polo over the summer, explaining that a change of scene helped her remember what a blessing it is simply to spend time with horses in any capacity.
2. A different type of horsepower
Gareth Hughes is not quite your typical dressage rider in many ways, having grown up in Australia and having a passion for reining, and this year he tapped into his wild side again by introducing a new ride – this time in the shape of a Harley Davidson motorbike!
3. Combining eventing with dressage – literally
Dannie Morgan juggles eventing with grand prix dressage, so it was inevitable that sooner or later he would combine the two sports. Dannie famously began a trend among dressage riders of attempting a line of tempi-changes into a fence, and also took it a step further himself, with this impressive canter zig-zag into a skinny.
4. Swapping the arena for the hunting field
Dressage legend and five-time Olympian Carl Hester enjoyed a change of scenery when he spent a day out trail-hunting with the Heythrop last year, and wrote about it afterwards in H&H. Although he admitted it had been 10 years since he last left the ground, Carl said his day out with hounds was “totally exhilarating”.
5. Dressage rider to jockey
Dressage rider and trainer Ali Dane took on a huge challenge in 2017 when she took part in the Champions Willberry Charity Race at Cheltenham. Ali swapped her Pikeur breeches and dressage saddle for racing colours and short stirrups and after only 60 days of training finished the 1 mile 5 furlong race well riding Miss Inga Sock.
6. Taking on a marathon
Several well-known riders have added the impressive achievement of running a marathon to their sporting CVs, with a fair few dressage riders among them, such as Andrew Gould, Judy Reynolds and Olivia Oakeley. Grand prix rider Alice Oppenheimer (pictured during a training race) is set to run the postponed London Marathon in October 2021, raising money for Brooke.
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