Flashy dressage horse excels at team chasing

  • A “nightmare” dressage horse who caused a few raised eyebrows in the warm-up before a recent team chase has shown he can turn his hooves to a new career.

    Sophie Seymour, a professional rider from Badminton, took her 16-year-old Danish warmblood Odin to his first team chase at Beaufort on 17 March.

    Sophie told H&H Odin arrived with her two years ago on sales livery on behalf of his previous owner, Helen Fletcher.

    “He was a bit of a nightmare and I couldn’t sell him,” said Sophie. “He reared and bucked and after doing dressage all his life he began to hate it. He had wins at advanced medium and was very flashy but he stopped enjoying it.

    “He’d never jumped in his life, but I said to his owner ‘why don’t we try a bit of jumping with him and look at selling him as an eventer?’”

    Sophie said the turning point for Odin was an experience out hacking.

    “I would ride anything and will sit through a buck or a spin, but Odin was so naughty I wouldn’t hack him out by myself unless there was someone else on the yard. I eventually got him hacking alone and he really settled down. One day I went to walk him over a tiny log in the woods to see what he thought and he flew over it. I think he was as chuffed as I was and I thought to myself ‘this horse can jump, I want it’,” she said.

    “I absolutely fell in love with him – we did a bit of eventing and I took him on loan for six months, but his owner needed to sell him. I was devastated, but I couldn’t afford to buy him. The next day the owner gave him to me – she knew I couldn’t afford him and she didn’t want us to part because of the amazing relationship we’d built and the rest is history.”

    Sophie said Odin’s flashy extended trot in the team chase warm-up attracted some attention.

    “It was so embarrassing, I was asking for canter and he said ‘no we’re just going to do extended trot’ – he really flicks his toes and shows off,” she said. “I had someone ask me ‘will your horse actually jump?’ and my response was ‘just watch us’.

    “One of my team members, Leah Wren, hadn’t done team chasing before and the other members, Sarah Milsom and Lizzie Donaldson, were riding babies so I had to lead the team. I thought he might be nervous as he can be a bit sticky over the first few fences but once he gets going he’s great. I let him go at his own pace and he flew – he didn’t care about the others, he was gone.”

    Sophie said Odin’s dressage days are over.

    “We’re going to do more team chasing. I think he’d jump round an intermediate. He wouldn’t do a speed class, but he has one hell of a pop in him – he absolutely loves it,” she said.

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