‘It’s fairytale stuff’: Mount St John Freestyle makes winning return to competition after more than two years

  • Medal-winning mare Mount St John Freestyle made a winning return to competition yesterday (21 June), more than two years after she was last between the white boards.

    Mount St John Freestyle was ridden by her owner Emma Blundell, scoring 74.13% in a grand prix at Northallerton EC, Yorkshire, with Emma making her grand prix debut.

    “It went better than I expected – grand prix has been a lifelong dream for me, and Freestyle was amazing,” Emma told H&H. “She was so easy, and no different to how she is at home. I had never done a grand prix but Freestyle really knows what she’s doing. I wanted to do her justice.”

    The 14-year-old Fidermark mare, who won team and individual bronze for Britain at the 2018 World Equestrian Games with Charlotte Dujardin, last competed in May 2021 at the Wellington CDI3* with Charlotte. There, she won the grand prix freestyle with over 88% and finished second in the grand prix behind Charlotte on Gio, whom she took to the Tokyo Olympics and European Championships later that year.

    ‘It’s nice to go full circle with Mount St John Freestyle’

    Freestyle returned to Emma’s Mount St John Stud in 2022 to rejoin the stud’s breeding programme, and Emma brought her back into training over the winter.

    “What’s so amazing about Freestyle is the gears she has and her ‘on-off switch’. She is the safest horse on the yard and would win a handy pony class, but she can just click into another gear, and then she has as many gears as you could ever want. That’s priceless, but it’s just who she is. She loves to work with you and please her rider, and you could train her to do anything.”

    Emma was thrilled to receive high marks for the more difficult grand prix movements, including the one-time changes, pirouettes and piaffe-passage work.

    “I’ve never done that stuff before and it can be hard to keep up with Freestyle in the changes. I was so pleased we nailed them in the test and got eights. It was just the silly things that we hadn’t practised as much, like the canter to trot transition, that I forgot to ride properly. But I’m absolutely delighted.”

    Mount St John Freestyle and Emma Blundell

    This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Mount St John Stud, and Emma said it feels particularly satisfying to have achieved her grand prix goal with Freestyle this year, a decade after starting the mare’s competitive career in a four-year-old class at the same venue.

    Emma bought Freestyle, who was bred in Germany by Stephen Kurz, as a foal at the 2009 Hanoverian Elite Foal Auction, and competed her as a four-year-old. They finished sixth at the British Dressage national championships in 2013 in the four-year-old finals. Charlotte took over the ride on Freestyle in 2015.

    “It’s so nice to go full circle and go grand prix with her now – it’s fairytale stuff,” said Emma, who plans to ride Freestyle in a demonstration at the stud’s open day on 1 July, but is yet to make further competition plans for the mare.

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