Laura Tomlinson: ‘I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time’


  • Top British dressage rider Laura Tomlinson reflects on the World Breeding Championships, Pony Club fun and Britain’s medal chances at the Europeans

    I recently had the privilege of riding our seven-year-old home-bred Full Moon II at the World Breeding Championships in Ermelo, and it was indeed an experience. The standard of horses there was unreal. I found it a little scary that most of what I could hear being called across the collecting ring was “more” and “poll up”, as some very young horses were being pushed to what may well be their limit.

    It will be interesting to see how many of the top three in each age category go on to be successful at grand prix. Historically, not as many as you might expect have, given the talent we see at these championships.

    There were a few horses at the top, and some that were a little lower in the placings, that I would certainly have liked to take home. And it is still exciting to have had four British horses represented, all of whom were presented in a lovely way.

    Fun times for the smalls

    My week preceding the championships consisted of early-morning riding for me, in order to get my training done before heading off to Pony Club mini camp with my middle two children for three days, followed directly by four days of junior camp with my eldest.

    She also had to fit in the qualifiers for the Pony Club polo championships (my husband’s department), which were held at Cowdray just after Ermelo. I feel as though I have done my time!

    Mini camp was fabulous for the littlest people, and junior camp was brilliant too, with the children doing and learning a variety of things on and off ponies, including road safety and bitting.

    The Pony Club polo championships includes camping, which adds an extra element for parents too. Needless to say, come Saturday morning tack-up time, there were a few grown-ups who were struggling. But what an incredible opportunity for children to have an amazing time with two and four-legged friends, while playing a team sport.

    We’re now on holiday and recovering from the mayhem, but I have to say how grateful we are to the Pony Club for their efforts in teaching our children in such a fun way.

    Looking ahead

    Now while I catch my breath, I’m starting to look towards the autumn and winter, and to reflect on the season gone. Overall, it was a slightly mediocre one for me, but I start to assess what has gone right, what has gone wrong, why that is, and what I can do over the winter season to improve and prepare for next year.

    My homework will vary from horse to horse and for some it will be the beginning of their proper competitive careers. So I plan how to get them out to the local venues we’re lucky to have nearby.

    Going for gold

    I cannot finish writing without wishing the British team the best of luck for the European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck at the beginning of September. I don’t believe we have had a British dressage team this strong since 2012. If each of our British horses perform as they have this season, they can win the gold.

    At Aachen, I watched Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep do, in my opinion, the best grand prix, Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zepter the best special and Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on TSF Dalera BB the best freestyle – and that was without Lottie Fry on Glamourdale competing. It makes me more excited than I’ve been in a long time to watch the championship to come.

    Meanwhile, Carl Hester is also on a very exciting horse in Fame, while Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca are reliable when it comes to bringing home the bacon on the day. The strength in our team is not just having one superstar – it’s the fact that all four members are capable of contributing to a team gold-medal score.

    ● Do you agree with Laura that Britain can win gold in Riesenbeck? Let us know your predictions at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 31 August, 2023

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