Laura Tomlinson: ‘We must not rely on quick fixes’


  • Laura Tomlinson on staying mentally healthy via horses and her thoughts on the latest FEI proposals

    MY horses enjoyed a lovely October holiday with lots of hacking and paddock time while I counted down to the birth of baby Tommy on 8 November. During that stage of pregnancy where my organs were being frequently rearranged by boisterous kicks, my number one horse, Betty, went from loving nuzzling to little nips at my bump.

    I completely understood her sentiment; I was ready too, wanting to get on with the impending birth, sleepless nights and feeling like an oddly shaped dairy cow in order to get to the other side and reconnect with the “old me” – the one who was not in demand 24/7 and had control of her own schedule.

    I know how lucky I am to have my horses just a few steps away from my kitchen, so that I can keep a small part of “me” alive when many new mothers struggle with their sense of self. Finding a way to make the new self and the old self meet in the middle is so important for the mental health for any new mother.

    Whether chasing a career or not, the pressures can be overwhelming and I wish any impending or new mothers out there all the best in their journey. Enjoy it, but look after yourself as well as your baby.

    Reaping rewards

    FROM two-legged to four-legged home-breds, I have to say we couldn’t be prouder.

    My mother, who is in charge of that side of things in our set-up, has grown a few inches in pride over the past couple of months. Sarah Rogers won the novice gold national championship on our five-year-old Full Moon, and also won the inter I at the Keysoe CDI with Viva Lotta. There, Lara Butler also won the grand prix and special on Kristjan, another home-bred of ours, having already come ninth and helped the British team finish third at Aachen
    this summer.

    This was then followed up with Sarah coming first and second at the NEXGEN young horse finals in Hickstead with Full Moon and Forest Hill. What a fantastic team effort it has been, and lovely for me to follow while I have been out of the saddle.

    It is so fulfilling to have home-bred horses that are produced with patience and low pressure. I know my late father Wilfried would be proud of their development.

    It is also invaluable to have the opportunity to compete young horses at good shows in this country. Venues like Hickstead, with its big showground, give the horses a taste of a bigger stage in an inviting setting. The High Profile and Premier League shows also give the perfect preparation and stepping stones for our horses to develop mentally as well as physically.

    The word “imitating” says it all

    THE FEI has proposed some rule changes ahead of the General Assembly this month, including forbidding “any type of white substance around the horse’s mouth to imitate foaming”.

    I agree with this; the very word “imitating” says it all. We need FEI permission to use a false tail, we are not allowed to stuff a horse’s ears, we are not allowed to cover cuts, scars or colour unfortunate markings, such as a crooked stripe down the nose, so why pretend that your horse is salivating nicely?

    I think giving a juicy apple or a sugar lump, then having the appropriate bit and a soft contact is all you can do. Some horses naturally salivate more than others, but if the overall picture is soft, then there is no need to mask anything.

    We must be careful that our sport doesn’t drift too far from the founding principles of correct training by allowing quick fixes and cheat methods. It must be the same rule for all; some horses will be trickier than others, of course, but that is the riders’ job to try to improve with skill.

    ● What do you think about the FEI rule proposals? Tell us at hhletters@futurenet.com

    • This exclusive column is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 11 November

    You may also be interested in…

    You may like...