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Tales from the H&H Festival of Dressage: ‘I found my perfect match in a Horse & Hound advert’

It was thanks to an advert on the Horse & Hound website that H&H Festival of Dressage competitor Louise Hoffman found her “perfect match”.

“I moved to the UK from Germany four years ago to set up an IT business — I’ve always shared horses but never had my own,” said Louise, who is based in Northamptonshire.

“I was busy starting up my own business when I came over, but I started to miss horses and needed to get out and ride again.”

Louise added she found a couple of horses to ride, thanks to some lovely people in her village, but at the beginning of 2017 one of the horses sadly passed away and the other needed a quieter life.

“My partner James Banbury, who has no knowledge of horses, said ‘this is something that you have always wanted — go and get your horse, I support you’. He put the computer in front of me and said ‘have a look online’.

“I found ‘Boy’ in an advert on the Horse & Hound website — he was based three-and-a-half hours away from me and I had just started my search, so I had a look at some more adverts.

“Every day after work I would open his advert again, I even bookmarked it so I could get to his videos faster.”

Louise said that as she had never done anything like this before, her instructor gave his owner a call and they drove up there to have a look.

“I was told when buying a horse, don’t just go for the first horse you like, have a look at some further horses and make a decision. I went to see him and just knew as soon as I started riding him that he was the one — this was the horse I wanted.”

She bought the Belgian warmblood in April last year and the pair have built a “strong bond”.

“My horse time is my down time,” she said, adding Boy is “perfect match” for her. “For me it is all for fun — that is the time when I completely switch off from work.”

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Louise, who trains with Josien Chalmers on the flat and four-star eventer Richard Jones for jumping, had been hoping to enter the H&H Festival of Eventing as well, however a lack of transport put their plans on hold.

Louise said trying to find the right 3.5tonne box was an “absolute minefield”and in the end, had one built by a manufacturer she trusted.

She picked up her wheels four weeks ago and this is the first major competition she has been to with the 12-year-old gelding.

“It has been brilliant, really well organised and everyone here is friendly and very helpful — I’ve met some lovely people,” she said, adding the stay away aspect of the show meant she made friends with her neighbours in the lorry park and the stables.

“Boy has been so good and settled straight away on day one, the atmosphere here is just the right balance [of relaxed and excitement].”

Louise and Wonderboy finished fifth in the Equestrian Surfaces Novice Championship, which was held at Sheepgate Equestrian Centre in Lincolnshire from 20 to 22 July.

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