Carl Hester: Let’s showcase British talent at conventions [H&H VIP]

  • I know Richard Davison and I do our own thing — the Dressage Convention — but the British Dressage National Convention is a key event for leading dressage trainers, judges and supporters.

    So I wonder whether it’s time we gave more British trainers a chance to showcase their techniques and talent there? Although I took the National Convention in 2012 after the Olympics, it is the established tradition to have a foreign trainer for this two-day event.
    But, especially now the sport has come so far in this country, if our home-bred trainers aren’t given the chance to demonstrate their talents in public, where else are they going to make names for themselves?

    When I get approached with requests to do demonstrations and conventions, it is amazing how many times I get the feeling that organisers don’t want to risk using new people as they “don’t know what they’re like”. Yet there are so many demos, people are needed at events all around the country.

    You can only learn to do these big public events by developing your own personality for them, as well as being confident about showing your training skills.

    Perhaps the powers that be think a foreign trainer of international repute would draw the crowds. But there are two whole days, so how about offering, say, three national trainers a slot at the convention?

    If the three were all to look at a combination with a problem in half-pass, for example, they could potentially provide three different views on how to improve that half-pass, giving the audience and the rider a much bigger bag of homework to take away. That would be value for money.

    I clearly remember my first demo, at Gleneagles in front of 700 people, as a baptism of fire — I had a severe case of tummy ache for hours before. That was in 1994 and I’ve done a fair few since. But the thing to remember is that people come to see you because they want to be there — you’re not on trial.

    And if we want to keep promoting British dressage, we need more people capable of delivering fun, interesting demonstrations. So let’s give more trainers a chance to develop those skills and showcase the wealth of talent that is coming through.

    Big boots to fill at BD

    By the time this column’s in print, applications for the job of CEO at BD will have closed. Amanda Bond — also known as “Commander Bond” — is departing for pastures new in Hong Kong. Amanda’s reign has seen the golden years, from paras to seniors to our first pony medal last year. What a fantastic state to leave our sport in!

    A very special applicant is required to represent us globally and with much enthusiasm and it will be really interesting to see who gets to fill Amanda’s boots.

    Oh, and she might be out of a job in government, but let’s hope Maria Miller doesn’t apply.

    New faces at Hartpury?

    Again, by the time this is in print, the winter championships will have finished. With an average of 850 competitors over five days at Hartpury, is this the biggest dressage event in the world?

    Open and restricted, music from novice to intermediate I, Area Festival finals — wow, what an array of levels.

    And there are more debutantes here than you could shake a stick at (I’m not sure that debutantes ever had sticks shaken at them, but never mind).

    The point is that, in the past, people didn’t have much opportunity to get to ride at a championship, but now the winter finals are open to all abilities, ages, sizes and shapes to come and practise their moves.

    Once again, let’s hope these championships throw up some new faces.