Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is one of Britain’s top international grand prix dressage riders. He is a European and world team medallist and has been named as a nominated entry for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 with Sintano Van Hof Olympia. Gareth was the best performing British rider at the 2019 European Championships with Classic Briolinca, finishing seventh in the grand prix special and 10th in the freestyle.

Gareth’s Australian upbringing

Gareth Hughes was born on 1 April 1971, in Britain, but his family moved to Jimboomba, Australia when he was six years old. There he learned to ride and started working with an Australian performance trainer, and taking part in Western riding, reining and Australian stock horse classes. 

However, he alway harboured a love for dressage, and would follow the European dressage circuit closely. It wasn’t until he entered an inter-high school competition and won the dressage section that he started working with more dressage-focused trainers, and honing his skills. 

When Gareth’s parents moved back to the UK when he was in his early 20s, he decided to return temporarily himself, but ended up putting down roots and opting to ride for Britain rather than Australia.

He worked initially at Broadstone Stud in Oxfordshire, before meeting top FEI judge Stephen Clarke, with whom he was based for the following two years. In 2001, Gareth set up his own yard in Cheshire, before relocating back to Oxfordshire in 2004 to launch Aspen Grove Dressage. In 2011, Gareth and his wife Rebecca moved to their current base in Warwickshire, launching Hughes Dressage. 

Gareth’s international career

Gareth Hughes first rode on a senior team for Britain in 2013, winning European bronze in Herning riding Jane Brewin’s Donnerschlag mare DV Stenkjers Nadonna, alongside Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Michael Eilberg. 

The following year, Gareth and Donna were once again selected for the British team, and were part of the quartet who took home team silver from the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen. 

Gareth was also selected for the European Championship team in 2017, this time riding Steve and Anne Keen’s Don Crusador gelding Don Carissimo. However, disaster struck after arriving in Gothenburg for the championships, when Don Carissimo sustained a freak injury and failed the trot-up. 

In 2019, Gareth was the best performing British rider at the European Championships in Rotterdam, aboard his own and Julia Hornig’s Trento B mare Classic Briolinca. While Britain lost out on the team silver medal after Charlotte Dujardin’s elimination from the grand prix, Gareth finished seventh individually in the grand prix special with 78% and 10th in the freestyle with over 80%. 

In 2021, Gareth withdrew Classic Briolinca from Olympic contention after the mare sustained a ligament strain early in the year. He was, however, long-listed for the Games with his own and Judy Firmston-Williams’ 11-year-old gelding Sintano Van Hof Olympia, after strong performances in the horse’s first season competing at the top level. Gareth was also listed as a reserve nominated entry with his own and the Kroll family’s 12-year-old stallion KK Dominant.  

Family life

Gareth is married to fellow grand prix dressage rider Rebecca Hughes, who also runs Classic Dressage alongside Julia Hornig. The pair have a daughter, Ruby, who was born in December 2007, and has already proved herself to be talented in both vaulting and dressage. 

Ruby was a member of the British team at the vaulting European championships in 2019, and in 2021 she made a winning international dressage debut, competing in both the children-on-horses and pony sections at Wellington CDI3*, on Bee Gee 8 and Hilkens Showgirl respectively. 

Gareth is also a highly respected coach, and has worked as advisor to the Swiss national team, and dressage trainer to the Australian event team. In his spare time, Gareth plays guitar and enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorbike.