Richard Davison: Politics, parties and bright lights *H&H Plus*


  • Between casting our vote today and awaiting results, it will be a drawn-out 24 hours. Many hope this election will bring to an end the lack of integrity and falsehoods we’ve been subjected to by politicians. Others believe “getting Brexit done” will also reinstate the status quo. But I fear there will be disappointment on both counts.

    The devil is in the detail and, having read the 2019 EU UK Withdrawal Agreement, there is much detail yet to be thrashed out and debated. Battle scars will be deep and perpetuate years of division. What’s needed is respectful and balanced cross-party collaboration. But I fear not even Santa’s little helpers could grant us that wish. A change of government is not the answer; we need a change of system and standards.


    Proper parties

    Political parties aside, over the next few weeks we equestrians have some proper parties to look forward to. Next week Bubblingh and I will head to Olympia, and I will also be performing my role as part of the organising team.

    This year we have been inundated with international entries, but FEI World Cup rules impose strict limits on us and sadly these leave many disappointed riders on the waiting list.

    This will be the second year we will pilot a short grand prix test which, aside from being less physically demanding on the horses, allows us extra time to showcase and introduce the technical points of dressage to a wider public.

    Another innovation to the Monday performance is the series of masterclasses hosted by Carl Hester, Gareth Hughes and myself. As well as featuring extra guests, we aim to demonstrate training across the levels, and include plenty of take-home tips and techniques.

    Straight after the Christmas break, Carl, I and others will head north to the Liverpool International Horse Show for Nina Barbour’s “can’t miss” extravaganza, with both dressage and jumping stars lining up on the starting grid, and an abundance of other attractions.

    High-octane atmosphere

    As part of our preparation for Olympia it was useful to compete Bubblingh at the Madrid World Cup qualifier a couple of weeks ago. My travelling groom Heidi Troniseck made the long journey there and back with her usual smile and expertise.

    All World Cup qualifiers have their own unique high-octane atmosphere. Some good horses simply cannot cope with the challenges, which include noise levels, lighting and distractions.

    A few top riders stop trying to expose individual horses to these special challenges, and instead keep them for the quieter outdoor show environments. But with Olympic challenges ahead involving competing under lights, it will require a judgement call on how best to accustom horses to these distractions.

    Following a three-month training break, in the build-up to Madrid, Bubblingh’s preparation was interrupted by a minor injury. This resulted in him being a bit wild in the grand prix but we managed to regain a bit of control to finish sixth in the freestyle. Please keep your fingers crossed for us at Olympia.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 12 December 2019