Event rider goes back to her roots and takes title at National Dressage Championships

  • Event rider Holly Woodhead proved she still has the magic touch in the dressage arena at the 2022 LeMieux National Dressage Championships, as she rode Mount St John Equestrian LLP’s MSJ Viva Dannebrog to win the KBIS National Dressage Championships young horse four-year-old final.

    Holly, who has only switched back to pure dressage recently, was emotional after her victory: “I haven’t done pure dressage for a very long time; since I was on ponies. I’m ever so grateful to Emma [Blundell] for allowing me to work with these amazing mares, and obviously to my sister, Amy, for being pregnant so I get the rides!”

    Holly has been partnered with Viva Dannebrog, a chestnut mare by Vitalis, since the beginning of the year and the nationals was their fourth competitive outing.

    “When I first rode her she was petrified of everything,” said Holly. “I’ve spent the majority of our time together getting to know her. We’ve been jumping, cantering around the field and she loves her grid work; it’s brought out the best in her. She’s not seen a lot of life as we’ve not over done the outings; I’ve mainly been working on producing her for her next rider.

    “In the arena she’s very onside, she works with me and she doesn’t give up. We haven’t asked for the extra gears yet as we want her to be happy in her work as a young horse.

    “Whether it’s an event horse or a dressage horse, I like them all to feel really good in themselves and be happy,” added Holly. “It’s so important.”

    Judge David Hunt said: “You could really see the horse was with the rider as soon as she picked up the reins, which is so important later on; a grand prix horse needs to come into the ring being with the rider, listening with energy. And the winner had all of these qualities.”

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