What's it like to receive your call up to ride for your country at 22 years of age? "A bolt from the blue", says eventer Tom McEwen.
Tom McEwen, 22, has just had his call-up to the British Eventing senior European squad. Based at Mark Todd’s Badgerstown yard, he has 3 team gold medals in ponies and young riders and 2 4-stars already under his belt. However, the call was still an unexpected one.
“It was a massive surprise,” Tom says. “I’ll learn a lot. I want to soak up what [team mates] Pippa [Funnell], William [Fox-Pitt] and Tina [Cook] do.”
This attitude sums up his focused approach to his future. His home-produced horses Diesel and Rehy USA are shaping up nicely, and are of an age to peak for Rio 2016 and he’s worked out where he sees his future.
“I’ve been testing ideas over the past year, and now know that I am most excited by getting young horses and producing them myself,” he says. “Most of my life has been spent developing young horses. They understand what I want, and I understand what they want. Diesel seems to go round feeling what I am thinking. Most of us can’t just take on someone else’s horse — unless you’re Mark Todd, but he’s a genius.”
And it would seem that some of Sir Mark’s genius is rubbing off on Tom, who trains with the World Class programme.
“The odd passing comment in the arena is like a whole lesson for me to work on,” he says.
Competing at Malmo in Sweden [where the European eventing championships are going to be held] will not be a new experience for Tom as he rode there last year in the young rider Europeans, incurring 20 jumping penalties across country.
Tom will probably ride as an individual: “I hope I do a lot better than I did last time,” he says clearly feeling disgraced by those 20 penalities. And we’re guessing that with his competitive edge, that’s not unlikely.
5 things Tom McEwan can’t live without
1. My alarm clock — I have to set it half an hour earlier than I need to get up.
2. NAF Magic calmer. Dry Old Party is on the powder all the time, and liquid at events. I’ve tried many calmers, as I ride a few hot-heads, and this is the best.
3. Chocolate. I don’t eat lunch — there’s not much time to fit everything in so I push on through, but I’d never say no to chocolate.
4. A tip from Beanie Sturgis when I was on ponies has always stayed with me: “If it in doubt give it a clout.” It still keeps me thinking forwards.
5. Sidney, my dog — a Christmas present from my parents. He comes to every event and runs off constantly socialising. He has disgraced himself though. At a 3-day he ran off with a football and sat in the dressage arena during a test — and popped the ball. The test had to be restarted.