Could you win at the equine Rockstar Academy?

  • A new academy-style competition featuring top judges including Yogi Breisner will take place at Milton Keynes Equestrian Centre this month (27 June).

    Riders from novice to advanced are being encouraged to enter the competition, in which the judges will ask them to perform show jumping, cross-country and dressage tests.

    The novel format will enable each rider to have a “mini masterclass” with the judge, before being asked to jump a course or execute some flatwork. Their performance will then be graded.

    Riders will be assessed on criteria including empathy with their mount, potential, dedication and how they respond to instruction.

    Yogi will be judging the cross-country phase, grand prix rider Sebastian Hughes will assess the showjumping and Paralympic gold and silver medallist, judge and coach Simon Laurens will be in charge of the dressage.

    Optional free expert advice will also be on hand from sports psychologist Gary Diplock.

    The competition was conceived by event rider and veterinary physiotherapist Jennifer Olivier (pictured), who came up with the idea after auditioning for Horse & Country’s Blue Chip All Star Academy TV show.

    “I was really disappointed not to be chosen as a finalist and then I discovered there were so many others who were disappointed by not making the finals that I decided to try to do something for them,” she said. “I decided I would make my own version and try to get the best judges, a great venue and as many sponsored prizes as possible.

    “I wanted to accommodate as many riders as I could and also offer places to riders from a novice to advanced level — all to be judged on a level playing field, so each would have an equal chance of winning no matter what their experience is.

    “It should be a great opportunity for people to access top trainers — whether they don’t feel confident to go out and tackle a one-day event or if they’re thinking of upgrading to one-star and want some advice on taking a step up.”

    Jennifer had additional motivation to organise the contest, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December last year.

    “I’ve been recovering from surgery and undergoing chemotherapy and to be honest it hasn’t been the easiest task to undertake but I wanted something to focus on,” she said. “Getting the responses from competitors about how excited they are and being able to raise some money for a charity that is helping me through my cancer journey, it makes it all worthwhile.”

    A minimum entry fee donation of £65 is requested for the “Rockstar Academy” show, which will be raising funds for Macmillan. Temporary stabling will be charged at £10 per day, which will also be donated to the charity. Prizes include a tour of showjumper Tim Stockdale’s yard, rugs and riding wear.

    The classes are divided into introductory (65cm cross country and 70cm show jumping); novice (75cm and 80cm); intermediate (85cm and 90cm); open (95cm and 1m) and advanced (1.05m and 1.10m).

    “I’m hoping people won’t think it’s complicated or be put off and worry they are not good enough,” Jennifer added. “All you need to do is catergorise yourself at the level you’re jumping confidently, enter, turn up, get your bib and go and meet the first judge on your list who will watch you warm up and give some advice.

    “We’ll have a scribe to write down the comments, so competitors can take them home later like a dressage test sheet. We’re just hoping to create a really nice day for everyone.”

    For more information and entries visit the academy website or Facebook page.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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