‘Thank god I took on that challenge’: 14 things you might not know about showing star-turned-international dressage rider Louise Bell

From the ups and down, inspirations to weaknesses, here we find out a little bit more about showing supremo turned dressage star, Louise Bell…

1. She first took up dressage as part of a Horse & Hound switching disciplines challenge in 2011, for which she had three lessons with Michael Eilberg before doing an elementary test. “I had never done pure dressage and it really doesn’t compare to showing,” she says. “Thank god I took on that challenge — thank you H&H!”

2. In 2011, Louise considered giving up her showing career after losing four of her top show horses in quick succession. “It was like losing family and I was on the edge of quitting,” she admits.

3. Louise received her Union Jack flag this year when she represented Britain on a team for the first time. She was the best-placed member of the British Nations Cup team in the grand prix at the Hickstead CDI in July — where she was also judging in the show ring at the Royal International Horse Show.

4. She first learnt her trade training at Ted Edgar’s yard. “I learnt so much there — it was tough but it’s why I have the attitude that I do today: if you want something you work hard for it,” she says.

5. Louise and her husband Robert survived a horrific horse box crash in 2002, but having broken her leg in multiple places, Louise was told she may never ride again. But, that same year, she went on to win the working hunter title at Horse of the Year Show with Out Of Sight.

6. Among the friends she made while working at Ted’s is Alan Davies, now groom to Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin. “Alan and I go back a very long way,” said Louise, fondly.

7. On of Louise’s highlights of 2018 is being warmed up by Carl while at the national championships in September. “Carl was brilliant and helped me at the nationals, even though I don’t usually train with him. I loved every minute of it — warming up with Carl Hester is just amazing.”

8. Her drink of choice is a Moscow Mule cocktail — made with ginger beer, vodka and lime juice.

9. She admits that Dime bars are her biggest weakness. “I can’t just eat one! Those mini ones especially are dangerous — they’re a terrible weakness of mine.”

10. Her horses are mostly named after films, such as Into The Blue (pictured), W Get Smart and her exciting upcoming mare, Skyfall.

11. Many of her best horses, including her current top grand prix dressage horse In to The Blue (by Ublesco), were bred by John Whitaker.

12. Louise has recently bred a foal — her first dressage-bred horse — a son of Uthopia born in 2018. “He’s called Peaky Blinder because he’s dodgy,” laughs Louise. “He is absolutely spectacular — he’s the golden child.”

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13. She names German Olympian Dorothee Schneider as one of her biggest inspirations. “She’s a real rider — I can imagine her riding anything. She’s such a talented horsewoman; very clever and very underestimated.”

14. She relishes pressure when it comes to performing. “I do well under pressure — showing has done that for me,” she explains. “People expect you to win and you’re always being watched.”

For the full interview with Louise Bell, don’t miss the latest issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out now (dated 24 January 2019)