Having worked for Carl Hester for three-and-a-half-years, dressage rider Amy Woodhead has returned home to Grimsby to run her family business which was started by her grandmother and father as a riding school.
The yard has now been transformed into a professional dressage set up, and Horse & Hound paid a visit to find out what experience the young dressage rider has taken away from Carl — and what she has planned for the future.
Name: Amy Woodhead
Base: Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Biggest achievements to date: representing Great Britain on the young rider and pony dressage teams
When did you decide that horses would be your career?
“The moment I came back from the hospital I was sitting on a pony. That’s all I ever knew. Growing up, we’ve had a riding school here our whole life, so any group lessons me and my sister (eventer Holly Woodhead) could get on we did. Until we were about 13, both of us just did Pony Club and any kind of riding club, and so it wasn’t very serious. We just learnt to ride any ponies that we were given.”
What was the next step?
“Dad (Ian Wooodhead) at the time was the British pony dressage team trainer, and I used to go and watch all the pony team training with him. And when I was 13, we were on the way home once and I told him that I thought I’d really like to do this as a career — I’d really like to go on the pony team and get a flag. That summer he sent me to the German team trainer for the whole of the summer, and then when he picked me up we then went to a different yard where we tried a couple of ponies and I ended up getting a dressage pony from there.”
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How did you get the job with Carl Hester?
“I’d seen him at a lot of internationals and then he came out and helped at the young rider Europeans when I was on the team. Lottie Fry was meant to be going to work at Carl’s but she wasn’t able to get there for a couple of months so he spoke to my mum and asked if I’d like to come and work for him for six months — and I just didn’t leave.”
What have you taken away from working at Carl’s?
“I loved working for Carl. Just learning how to run a professional yard is amazing. I would suggest to anyone wanting to do horses, you should go and work on other yards and work underneath someone else. And I also learnt what it takes to become a top rider — which is a lot of hard work. A massive highlight at Carl’s was being able to do my first grand prix, for which I’ll be forever thankful — that’s an amazing opportunity in itself.”
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