From ponies to a horse that gave her a taste of Olympic glory, here top British dressage rider and this week’s Horse & Hound magazine guest editor (24 March 2016), Laura Tomlinson introduces us to her stars of yesterday, today and the future.
Laura’s memorable horses
Dolcevendy O — ‘Dotty’ is my rising eight-year-old. We got her aged six from Holland and she is just about to start at small tour. She won her first PSG in Florida with 73.5% and she is a little ballerina. Lord Letherdale x Jazz and the Jazz does bubble to the surface when she doesn’t like what you are doing so you have to treat her like a lady but she is a pocket rocket, possibly my secret weapon!
Credit: Kevin Sparrow
Rosalie B — We bought Rosie in November from Klaus Balkenhol who bred her and produced her with his daughter Anabel. She had just done her first inter 2 and Young Horse GB with Belli in September. I took her to Florida and did her first GP here. She is exciting as she is building strength at this level and is beautiful to ride. I think she has a lot of potential and an having fun building a partnership with her
Unique VIII — Minnie is my ‘up coming’ horse. I have had her since she was seven but she has been a very slow and long winded project. I believe if I can unlock her full potential over time, she will be phenomenal but she has been a tricky customer! Meanwhile she really tries hard for me and lets me ride her which has taken a LOT of trust building so now its just a matter of making her feel comfortable in the ring to let me make her small (she is NOT small!) Watch this space!
Credit: Jon Stroud Media
Andretti H — We bought Andy when I was starting out with Alf and Dougie had retired as a number two horse for me to get in the ring on. He had competed at GP level and was pretty straight forward at the movements but was very bad in the connection. He surpassed all our expectations when after a season with me he started to win many CDIs, the national championships twice and be my reserve for the team should Alf ever get injured. He then went on to give Lara Griffith her first taste at GP level and is now fat and hairy in the field with ALf. Both retired at a grand age still fit and well
Credit: Jon Stroud
Mistral Hojris — Alf, the love of my life! I got him when he was small tour but with a very bad reputation for being dangerous. He was never dangerous on purpose though! He just had a serious flight instinct and was extremely hot. I knew as soon as I rode him that he was the one for me, even though maybe nobody else would have thoughts so. I rode him in the YR Euros the year after Dougie and again we got team bronze and I came fifth. We were asked to leave the prize giving! I was young and in no hurry as I had never been at the top before so Alf and I took our time to grow as a partnership which is exactly what this misunderstood ginger giant needed.. Beijing he was still unpredictable and spooky but come 2009 onwards he was one of the most consistent horses in the top 5 and medaled team and individually at every championship from 2009 onwards till he retired. He is now fat and hairy enjoying the field her shares with Andretti
Credit: å© Jon Stroud Media
Douglas Dorsey — As I had very little to ride, really just Winnie who wasn’t staying in the sport, and the YR Europeans were less than two months away dad said I should have a sit on Dougie, his 17.2hh lovely GP horse with attitude. I rode him and after two days said to dad this was pointless, I couldn’t hold one side of him. Dad said give it till the end of the week and if you still don’t like him then fine. By the end of the week I said to dad he was not going to have Dougie back!! Luckily dad gets as much pleasure watching me ride his horses than competing himself and really that sealed his retirement from competition and launched my career.. We won team bronze and I got fourth individually at the YR Euros four weeks later and then I went to the World Equestrian Games two years later on him. I was youngest ever National Champ on him aged 20. Dougie was a dude who taught me so much. He retired with us fit and well
Winniza — This was dad’s favourite horse of all time that he rode at GP and when I was having bad luck with my horses (Placido and Landvogt) he let me do a few small tour shows on her, she was next taste of fairly uncontrollable power in lady form, standing me in good stead with learning how to ride very delicate temperaments. I won the CDI in Oldenburg on her but she as not young and had had a few injuries so we wanted to breed from her
Placido — Known as Angus this was my first taste of grand prix horse power, although I rode him from the age of six onwards, he was a different calibre of horse. Not really something for a young junior girl but he taught me to handle electric/crazy-sharp horses and that was more valuable than just winning U21 medals. We did come second in the freestyle at the junior Europeans in Saumur but as the marks were accumulative from the previous tests we missed out on a medal. He retired too young due to a tumour on his tendon that kept growing. He is still in the field at home