I’ve just returned from the first international show of the season, a rain-sodden Nice CDI. We got off to a great start there with Anna Jesty winning the young riders class.
With two pupils aiming for youth teams, several World Equestrian Games (WEG) candidates on my teaching books and the decision to sell two of my high-level rides, I thought I’d ride less this year, and instead produce my next grand prix horse, while teaching more. Business planning is essential to survive in the industry for those who don’t have independent financial backing, and selling horses is a necessary part of survival.
It takes confidence to sell and it’s taken me 45 years and four back-to-back horses on Nations Cups or championship teams to finally realise that I wasn’t just “lucky” and will train another horse to that level. I still hedged my bets though — the one I retained is nearly grand prix ready.
The result of this — with a stable full of young horses and being super-busy with coaching and sales horses — is that I briefly became a one-horse rider and realised just what a rollercoaster that is. It was as though I didn’t own my own emotions; in fact, I should have just asked my one and only trusty steed Delgado how HE was feeling as, if Delgado felt good and went well, I was happy all day. If Delgado was not in a good mood, I was not in a good mood either. No wonder riders are bonkers.
Realising that my moods were being remotely controlled by my horse, I ditched some of the bookwork, got on the seven-year-olds and have started riding a few more a day for the sake of my sanity.
Britain has many exciting new grand prix horses coming through this year, though WEG is out of reach for most. But we can watch great dressage in the UK this season with Keysoe, Bolesworth, Windsor, Hartpury, and Hickstead internationals.
Dane Rawlins has set up a group of young professionals who are advising on new initiatives for Hickstead, keeping it fresh and forward-thinking. It’s great that this group are willing to give up the time to keep improving this fabulous show, our only Nations Cup in the UK. A new, covered grandstand is being planned this year which will enhance the spectators’ experience, and the £1,000 Club will be running once again and deserves support from those who can help.
Bolesworth was also a fantastic show last year. It’s a great spectacle with the moat surrounding the arena. Sharing a VIP table there was fun for our connections and it is well worth considering for those who want to make it an occasion.
With all this to be positive about and many enthusiastic members of British Dressage enjoying supporting the top end, let’s not forget the middle group of higher level amateurs. It seems to me that the grassroots are very well catered for and the top end has World Class for support, but this group deserves recognition, support, and competitive opportunities.
I’ve really enjoyed Emile Faurie’s well-deserved success recently. He’s been a team stalwart for many years and helped many young people through his charity; it’s great to see him with a team of top horses and, excitingly, he assures me he hasn’t even deployed the best one yet.
Ref Horse & Hound; 15 March 2018