Laura Tomlinson: ‘This is what dressage should be’


  • H&H dressage columnist and world, European and Olympic medallist, Laura Tomlinson, gives her take on the British team’s Europeans success

    AS I write, I have just had to admit defeat and realise that now at seven months pregnant, I am no longer able to be of much use on my horses. I now spend my mornings remote controlling Lara Butler riding, as I feel the horses through my eyes and not my seat.

    I did, however, get to finish off my season with two wins in Germany on Rose Of Bavaria and a big personal best for her in the special of over 77%, which was wonderful.

    To further my inspiration and keep me going until I can get back in the saddle properly, I have been enjoying the European Dressage Championships in Hagen, and what a thrill it was to see our British team claim another medal. Our team did well to keep their nose just in front of the Danes, making it a rather nerve-racking but very exciting silver-medal finish.

    I felt that the British horses looked fitter than some other horses that had also been to Tokyo, possibly as ours competed less – partly due to Covid restrictions – over the season than some other European horses did.

    For Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl – what a year to be at the top of your game. When has anyone had the opportunity to win five gold medals in the space of six weeks? Hats off to Jessy and TSF Dalera BB, and what a testament this is to their management, mental strength and partnership.

    It was great to see Britain’s Gareth Hughes get his chance in the ring, having been the alternate in Tokyo. His riding is always soft and quiet, and his horse Sintano Van Hof Olympia shows great maturity already, despite his lack of experience.

    Lottie Fry also continued to impress across all three tests, with her maturity and her ability to manage such a powerful horse as Everdale with such discreet aids.

    Like in Tokyo, Carl Hester and En Vogue excelled in the special. Vogue still takes a grand prix test to get comfortable in the ring, and the freestyle can still get the better of him with the atmosphere. But the special is where he demonstrated what his potential could really be, once Carl has had a little more time to gain his confidence and settle him across all three tests.

    From listening to the German commentary, I can say there were many who believed Carl already deserved an individual medal in the special. I must say it was a beautiful demonstration of what dressage should be, with power, harmony and elegance, as well as such precision, including true lengthening of the frame in Vogue’s extensions.

    As this combination gets more ring experience, I believe we could be making the Germans sweat a lot more for their podium places.

    It’s getting hard to think of new and interesting ways to sum up what Charlotte Dujardin continues to achieve. She gets the best out of her horse every day, and her attitude to the competition was exemplary: as long as her horse did his best, she was delighted, and that’s what it’s all about.

    Charlotte’s individual medal in the freestyle was yet more icing on the cake, and I am inspired again and again by her focus and poise when under all the pressure that her success brings.

    Congratulations to all who are involved behind the scenes as well: the grooms, and all of the World Class staff who have worked tirelessly with two championships in close succession.

    What a year it has been for the sport and how wonderful to see Team GB dressage collecting so many medals, with the strength and depth to do so across two championships in one year. How far British dressage has come!

    • This exclusive column can also be read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 16 September

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