Carl Hester: Missing a trick with the youth of today *H&H VIP*

  • How nice to see decent crowds at our national championships. For me this year’s highlight was the Shearwater potential international dressage horse finals, not only for the quality but also for the wonderful test rider Eva Möller, wife of Dr Ulf Möller and herself a young horse specialist and world champion. An unbiased and brilliant test rider made for superb viewing. She got the best out of all the horses she rode and it was sublime to watch.

    Well done to Becky Moody who cracked 80% in the inter I freestyle on Carinsio, who we hope to see at grand prix soon.

    The show schedule is very professional, however I think it would be an improvement to run just one masterclass, rather than two. While people do enjoy a lecture demo, they’re there for the competition. The second masterclass was particularly disruptive during the grand prix freestyle as there were only nine in it. This is the highlight of the show; shouldn’t the prize-giving be done before half the spectators head home?

    The subject of wild cards

    At all levels up to inter I, allocation of wild cards is based on scores from the regionals. In this year’s grand prix however, 15 started from 18 entries and with 10 qualifying for the freestyle only nine competed.

    Where was the youth of today who could be the stars of tomorrow? With the new under-25 Europeans next year how about giving some of these riders wild cards? My young rider Amy Woodhead scored 69% and 70% at two Premier Leagues, but no wild card for her.

    Apparently there is something called selector’s choice. My proposal to British Dressage (BD) would be to make sure all who could contest the grand prix be sent for review and hand-picked. It seems there was a trick missed to boost the importance of this class in showcasing future talent.

    I’d also propose that the public would like to see all our European riders at the nationals — ponies to medium, juniors to advanced medium and young riders to prix st georges. The rounds of training and group sessions they take part in sometimes mean it is impossible for them to qualify for the nationals as well. These are our team members and they should be first in the queue.

    An idea many competitors want me to put forward is to split the warm-up area in half for the grand prix. With the concentration and effort needed it would be helpful if there were no wobbly young horses to keep an eye out for.

    Appreciate the effort

    It was fun for our pony and senior European medallists to be driven around with a flag, but I feel the juniors and young riders who didn’t win medals but gave as much of their time — and whose parents invested in the effort — should get a round too. After all, it’s only recently we’ve had medals to appreciate.

    A feast for dressage lovers

    Richard Davison and I are looking forward to the Dressage Convention at Bury Farm on 17-18 October.

    Fiona Bigwood will show off Atterupgaards Orthilia, who I and others consider a future medal horse. Stephen Clarke is never to be missed and, for those who remember the legendary Dr Reiner Klimke, we’re excited to have his son Michael, an international rider known for his outspoken views, as well as Tristan Tucker who wowed the Global Dressage Forum three years ago with his methods for helping horses cope with the competition environment. It’ll be a real feast for all dressage lovers. See you there!

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 1 October 2015