Pammy Hutton: Who’s in contention for the fourth golden Rio spot? *H&H VIP*

  • As Olympic year approaches, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Carl Hester with Nip Tuck, plus Fiona Bigwood and Atterupgaards Orthilia must be near certainties for team places. It’s the question of “the other one” — and soundness — that will keep us all enthralled.

    In the mix are Michael Eilberg, Gareth Hughes, Spencer Wilton, Hayley Watson-Greaves, Alice Oppenheimer, Laura Tomlinson, Lara Griffith and Anna Ross.

    But never doubt Richard Davison’s ability to come from behind. My spies tell me that Bubblingh, his home-bred, nine-year-old, lightly competed Lingh x Picandt gelding, showed huge promise on an international outing to Lier, Belgium last month (report, 12 November). They have yet to achieve high enough scores, but with Richard’s impeccable timing, they could be “the one”.

    A logical lateral move

    Is the turn on the forehand a dead exercise, as someone told me recently? I can’t think of a single reason to bin it. Indeed, the only thing that brings it into disrepute is its name — no movement should encourage a horse on to the forehand.

    Essential for opening gates, the turn on the forehand is a logical introduction to lateral work. Done softly and moving forward, it’s helpfully the first time we ask a horse to yield to the leg. The Spanish Riding School still uses it to begin training just that.

    The great Alois Podhajsky advocates the turn on the forehand in his book The Complete Training of Horse and Rider, which, like the exercise itself, is an old classic that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    How about a step up?

    According to my British Dressage (BD) rulebook, Area Festivals have classes up to and including inter I. Surely there’s now a need for inter II as well?

    Many partnerships can accomplish inter II, but it’s not held at summer national championships level. BD, please give this further thought.

    Navigation techniques

    There’s much to learn from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing — technique versus enthusiasm, attention to detail, heeding judges’ advice…

    Strictly contestants often say that it gets easier to learn the dance routines as the weeks go by, something that also applies to memorising dressage tests.

    Tried and tested methods include pacing the carpet, drawing on paper and a whole host of apps and audio aids. An endurance riding friend recommends putting test sheets into a clear map case — the sort used by hikers — and attaching it to the front of the saddle.

    A good idea for practising at home, this eliminates rustling paper, soggy sheets in the rain or the need for a helper.

    Meanwhile I hope the FEI’s newly approved “two mistakes and you’re eliminated” rule is re-discussed before we all need mini maps on our pommels.

    All I want for Christmas

    When you have horses, you’re never stuck for ideas when asked what presents you’d like.

    I desperately need a beautiful double bridle — mine is so old and unfashionable. Then there’s the hair that bounces straight back when I take off my hat, and a Dimaggio youngster…

    Socks are always welcomed, although this year’s must-have stocking filler is a competition waistcoat and shirt. Now that riders can ditch their jackets in hot weather, appropriately smart under-attire is required in case of stripping off.

    There are no gifts good enough for those nearest and dearest who look after us and our horses throughout the year. Our Christmas at home will be old-fashioned with me cooking, husband Brian in charge of drinks, and presents erring towards the practical.

    I wish you all a happy one, with some well-earned rest and recovery factored in too.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 3 December 2015