1. Ian Stark’s honest account of a course designer’s dilemma
In a heartfelt conversation with Pippa Roome and other journalists at Bramham Horse Trials, course-designer Ian Stark discussed the impossible challenge facing today’s top-level designers, who it seems either need to simplify their courses and therefore fail to challenge those at the very top of their game, or risk a fence or course causing too many problems. There has been a great deal of discussion on the subject, particularly following a strange year of sport in 2021 during which course designers were perhaps more cautious and built “easier” tracks to allow some let-up for everyone who had been unable to compete during lockdown. Now the feeling is that some combinations are reaching the higher levels without having faced appropriately challenging tracks at every level on the way up, in order to be able to give horses and riders the education they need to be successful – not to mention safe – at the highest levels. But as Ian asks, is it the course-designer’s job to simplify the challenge for the horse and rider, or the rider’s job to ensure they and their horse are suitably prepared? You can’t envy any course designers’ position today, though it was reassuring to read Ian say he had riders’ support.
2. Izzy Taylor’s exciting Bramham win
Izzy Taylor proved her cross-country prowess – and her ability to hold nerve under pressure – to win Bramham Horse Trials CCI4*-L on her own and Mark Sartori’s Monkeying Around. Izzy held the lead overnight after cross-country, but had an unenviably long hold before her showjumping round as she had to wait for the wall at fence six to be re-built before she could enter the arena – it having blown down during Ros Canter’s round.
3. Support for dressage rider Gemma Owen
Gemma Owen is the dressage rider bringing her sport into the limelight on Love Island 2022. The reality TV show, which airs six nights a week on ITV2, is renowned for instigating online gossip. At the end of last week, following some particularly unkind commentary from some online commentators, H&H dressage editor Polly Bryan set the record straight for those who have not understood Gemma’s sporting achievements.
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