Carl Hester: A huge opportunity for amateur riders *H&H VIP*

  • Working with horses can be very self-absorbing. Charlotte Dujardin and Alice Oppenheimer travelled to India recently for a first-hand look at the work of The Brooke, the international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world’s poorest communities.

    Some of the stories they saw and heard were heart-breaking, but the message is that education is everything, as much of the hardship these animals endure is due to ignorance rather than deliberate cruelty.

    So it is great that Kim Moloney plans to hold events next year that will benefit The Brooke, as well as bringing some real opportunities for riders in the Central region. Kim, her committee and some hundred volunteers are running a training camp at Addington on 11-13 March 2016.

    They have enlisted support from eight trainers who’ve all produced horses to top level from scratch — including Andrew Bennie who’ll be on the eventing ground jury for Rio — together with FEI vet Gavin Hamer and Jo Beavis from the National Saddle Centre, and backed by some fantastic sponsors.

    The idea is to give those riders who enjoy their sport, but have other important commitments such as full-time jobs, a pathway to make real improvement. Having served on the British Dressage training committee, Kim has identified some gaps in learning opportunities and is passionate about putting something back into the sport and bringing people together.

    Previous events have produced riders who’ve gone on to ride at the national championships — as well as marriages and babies. So it is a community thing, open to all ages, as well as a learning opportunity. Visit www.centraldressage.co.uk

    Continuing a legacy

    I came up through young riders with Laura Fry (then Shewen) and made my European championships debut with her 24 years ago. I’ve enjoyed being able to help her daughter Lottie with her dressage during what must have been a very difficult time with Laura’s sad and untimely death after a brave battle with cancer.

    Lottie was very successful at junior level, coming fifth at the Europeans in 2013, but her latest win in the under-25 grand prix at CDI Roosendaal (2-7 December; news, 10 December) was nothing short of fabulous.

    To move to a different country to train is daunting enough in your twenties, but to do it aged 17 is even more admirable. Lottie has grabbed the opportunity of a placement with Anne van Olst in Holland with both hands and all the hard work and dedication paid off when Anne kindly offered Lottie her grand prix horse Clearwater to ride.

    What this has done is teach her not just how to ride a test, but how to be a horsewoman, riding so many different horses. This is what all juniors and young riders should be looking to do, so my advice is to grab chances abroad if they aren’t available in England.

    I know Laura would have been very proud that her dedication, enthusiasm and success has rubbed off on her daughter.

    Looking ahead

    At the time of writing, Charlotte and I were preparing to leave for Olympia, with Uthopia about to dip a toe back in the water and Nip Tuck ready to debut his new freestyle. It is very difficult, so it will have looked like either a masterpiece or a Christmas after-party.

    I can’t believe Rio is upon us next year. For those of you expecting me to retire after the Olympics, just remember that I said I would after London 2012.

    Have a great Christmas and here’s to a fantastic 2016.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 December 2015