British Eventing Life Summer 2021

Page 1



Summer 2021 n £4.50

In this issue...

Summer ready Experts provide advice on handling the heat

Hidden depths Why eventing can help maintain positive wellbeing

Helping hands Volunteers explain their crucial roles within the sport


Olympic memories Three-time medallist William Fox-Pitt relives his moments of glory and despair


X-Breath K

X-Breath is the technology applied to the tree consisting of an oval hole positioned in the center of the tree’s rear section, covered in elastic and breathable honeycomb fabric. In the X-Breath K, there is an additional hole in the front part of the tree.



am pleased to welcome Helen West as British Eventing’s new CEO, starting on 2 August 2021. Helen was appointed following a recruitment process led by the BE board and involving the PHOTO: MARK FAIRHURST

stakeholder association chairs from the BEOA, EHOA and ERA of GB. Helen brings a wealth of knowledge and I am sure you will join me in warmly welcoming Helen and wishing her the best of luck. It is a fitting time for me to reflect on my time in post. The changes in the sport in the last two years have been significant. No one could have foreseen the Covid-19 pandemic or the devastating effect it would have. The suspension of sport in March 2020 led to challenges the sport had never seen before and a huge amount of work went


in behind the scenes to implement changes to restart in July 2020. Many of these changes have been maintained due to the improvements they produced.

passionate about. The army of volunteers


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n Sue Bow ie n Caro l Challis n Suza nne Garn er n Ainslie Goulston e n Chris Raybould


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MY FAVOURITE FEATURE… Volunteers give their time freely week after week so others can


compete and it’s wonderful to see them recognised in this issue n Summer 2021



contents Regulars



BEOA chair Rachael Faulkner on her new role, her Olympic past and organising the perfect event


The green

light to resume eventing has meant a joyous start to the season at the first Area Festival


reveals what the numbers tell us about 6RAs


are easing, so embrace the great outdoors with our picks of the season


The products

you simply can’t live without


We have



of the latest developments in the sport

We speak

to riders about their goals, big and small, for the season ahead




Our round-up


two body protectors up for grabs, worth £299 each


groom Alex Van Tuyll shares her thoughts on resilience ahead of the Olympics









six Olympic Games appearances and three medals, the former world number-one looks back on his two decades riding for Team GB – and his brushes with individual gold

recognised professionals reveal the secrets to helping a rider find their perfect match


How eventing

has helped riders to maintain positive mental wellbeing

49 HERE TO HELP A group

of long-serving volunteers discuss why they love to support the sport



As the


mercury rises, eventing experts give their tips for keeping your horse cool this summer n Summer 2021



Tips & advice


with our guide to tip-top turnout and the grooming essentials you need

FOR BRITISH EVENTING CEO Jude Matthews Chair Fiona O’Hara




Coney shares her experiences as a 5* owner and how she believes the best results can be achieved

of our team? Visit our website

your cross country performance and nail that perfect penalty-free round national champion Phoebe Locke shares her ambitious plans for 2021

Commercial Olivia Szajna

British Eventing or contact one



Communications &

Want to find out more about



Head of Marketing,

for information about our head office and regional teams, officials, volunteers, committees and the British Eventing board.


FOR THE BRIGHT MEDIA AGENCY Managing Editor Chris Evans


A winning

warm-up can make all the difference to your performance, so be prepared with our top tips and suggestions


We catch


up with event rider and jockey Saffie Osborne about her highs, lows and everything in-between

Content Director Stephenie Shaw Content Editor Kate Feasey Creative Director Emma Bramwell Designer Rafaela Aguiar-Hill Artworker Chris Gardner Head of Sales & Business Development Sally James Publisher David Shaw To advertise in British Eventing Life magazine and online, contact sally@


or call 07514 623564

British Eventing Ltd, Abbey Park, Stareton, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RN

The Bright Media Agency, The Old Bank, 2 Cross Street, Enderby, Leicestershire LE19 4NJ

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When did you first fall in love with eventing?


Was being an event organiser in your blood?

I come from a horsey family – my mother rode and evented – so it was a given that I would follow in her footsteps. I was born in England but moved to Canada when I was young and that’s where I started my riding career. I did Pony Club and the youth programmes over there, worked my way up and eventually rode for Canada in the 1992 Olympics. My mother was always an organiser, so I was involved in it with her while I was growing up. I came over to England when I was younger to ride and compete, then I came over in 1992 and based myself here while I was doing the Olympics. Then I got married, had children and never went home.

You ask the questions Rachael Faulkner 08 Summer 2021 n

I don’t think I was attracted to becoming an organiser. I loved organising events with my mum – she ran a World Cup qualifier in Canada and I used to fly over and help her with that – and as a child we ran competitions as well. But I was never really thinking ‘oh, I want to be an organiser’. But when Tweseldown became available, I saw it as a really good business opportunity. It’s been an

Former Olympic rider, Tweseldown venue owner and now BEOA (British Event Organisers Association) chair, Rachael’s world revolves around eventing

event for many years and has a huge love in the eventing community, so I could see a really good opportunity. The going was sandy and you can run it most of the year round. It was more a business decision and the organising came with it. It wasn’t a choice, but it was a really lucky encounter and I loved running the competitions – it’s me through and through and is clearly what I was born to do.


You describe yourself as an entrepreneur, so what was it about Tweseldown that appealed to you?

There are many things, but its history is incredible. It was first and foremost a racecourse – and has been since 1867 – and we had point-to-points here too. Queen Victoria used to come and watch her troops train, so the buildings have that kind of history – there’s one called the Queen’s Room that has an extra-tall door to accommodate her headdress.

That side of it is wonderful. They also ran the pentathlon cross country part of the 1948 Olympics at Tweseldown, so it has an incredible history for equestrian and horses. It’s been going since the 1960s, so people including Princess Anne have come to Tweseldown and continue to do so. The reason it works so well from a competitor point of view and as a training venue is because it’s got this free-draining sandy soil. That means you can run in any weather – apart from if there’s horrific frozen-solid ground – and it’s got a really unusual terrain. There’s so much you can do with the terrain for cross country courses and really good consistent ground. Everybody knows Tweseldown; it’s been around for so long.

Above Tweseldown’s unique character makes it a popular venue


You’re now BEOA chair as well. What are you trying to achieve in the role?

My main goal is to establish our

“When Tweseldown became available, I saw it as a really good business opportunity. It’s been an event for many years and has a huge love in the eventing community”

organisation so we’re not firefighting all the time and we’re helping to drive the sport forward. I want us to have initiatives so we can help and make things better. We are always going to have to deal with the everyday stuff that’s thrown at us, but I’d really like us to become a group of organisers who are proactive and pushing the sport forward. That’s really important to me and it’s something I’m trying to work through with people: what’s our vision? What can we do to help keep this sport as amazing as it is now? Rather than battling against BE or the board, we want to work with them to move things forward and the only way we can do that is through relationships. What I’ve really noticed in recent months is that our relationships are getting stronger. BE, the board and us are all coming together more.


Do you see the unaffiliated events as a threat?

Left The soil at Tweseldown and unusual terrain make it ideal for cross country

One of the things that everybody bandies about is event standards and that there’s a big unaffiliated market out there. Personally, I don’t see it as a threat, but I know a lot of people do. Ultimately, all we can do is make sure our competitions n Summer 2021



“The Science Supplements Area Festivals is really exciting. It will be treated like a mini Badminton and a real destination event” are the best. If you spell it out, BE’s medical cover is second to none, and the stewards and the technical advisors that are signing off the cross country courses, the course designers and all of these field staff deployed are all experts. That’s what BE events have above all other events. In order to uphold our standards, our officials need to be well-trained, well-versed and well-travelled. At Tweseldown, I’m blessed with an incredible course designer and course builder, and they do an incredible job. Every time you come to Tweseldown, the course is different and the ground is good most of the time – that’s my main priority. Encouraging that in other events is important, so having highly trained course designers available to lots of events can only help maintain the highest standards.

when we started [after the first lockdown], we balloted more than 500 horses from our event as the first weekend running, so the argument for that is we should have had more events on that weekend. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s very hard to predict. Some event organisers would like to let everybody decide which days they run and give everyone a method of free for all and then others like it to be managed by BE, others want a combination of both. It’s a minefield and it’s something we’re all looking at and discussing and trying to find a way forward.


Fixtures scheduling can be a contentious issue, so how does BEOA manage that?

That is a very, very difficult thing. There is a fixtures process at the moment and we’re working on a revised version of that specifically for Covid because we have to be a lot more dynamic in this environment, especially when we don’t know if events are going to run. Organisers don’t want other organisers to put on events on their weekend because it’ll affect their entries. However, last year

10 Summer 2021 n


BE has introduced several new competition opportunities this year. Are there any that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Left Discussing the course Below Tweseldown’s idyllic cross country course

I think the Science Supplements Area Festivals is really exciting. For riders who don’t have the most incredible dressage but have got a good cross country horse and just love doing the sport, they’re going to have the opportunity to do a couple of double clears to compete at a really prestigious venue. It will be treated like a mini Badminton and a real destination event. It’s exciting for the organisers too as it’s something they can build on. We’ve got some amazing organisers who are running these events and have been doing it for years and have incredible venues, so I’m super-excited about them. n

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Helen West named as new BE CEO Former GB event rider and award-winning Bicton organiser Helen West has been announced as the new CEO of British Eventing. Helen’s demonstrable business acumen, extensive knowledge of the sport and her vision for British Eventing stood out and she is described as an ‘outstanding choice’ by Fiona O’Hara, Chair of the British Eventing board. With a background steeped in eventing, Helen is a former Young Rider gold medallist who has evented to CCI4* level, representing Great Britain on multiple occasions and competing at the

highest levels in all three Olympic disciplines. She has managed Bicton Arena for the past eight years and is a previous Event Rider’s Association Organiser of the Year. “The sport has been a large part of my life for many years,” says Helen. “As a membership organisation, collaboration with key stakeholders is essential to developing growth within the sport and providing a sustainable business model for the future. This requires both knowledge and vision, which I will bring to the organisation. My vision is for the sport to unite and thrive.”

First ever Area Festival champions crowned in May A brand-new addition to the 2021 British Eventing calendar, the Science Supplements Area Festivals took place from 15 to 16 May, providing an exciting competition opportunity for grassroots riders. The weekend was a resounding success, with the first BE80, BE80 Open, BE90, BE90 Open, BE100 and BE100 Open Area Champions crowned. Ella Lucas and My Good Morning were Allen and Page BE80 Area Festival Champions, while Deborah Burrell and Imperial Tangle took the top spot in the BE80 Open Area Championship, supported by Equissage. Elizabeth Evans and Diamond Rhapsody took the top spot in the Science Supplements BE90 Open Championship, while Chloe Dunn and Towerhill Shamie were unbeatable in the Eco Voltz BE90 Area Championship. Katie Hipkins and Martins Irish

12 Summer 2021 n

Oliver Townend takes victory in Kentucky

Warrior conjured up a stunning performance to take the win in the South East Eventers League BE100 Area Championship, while Justin Clubley and Hokus Pokus were victorious in the Autumn Financial BE100 Open Area Championships. In the Science Supplements BE80 Area Qualifiers, Caroline Davies and Happy H took the win in Section O and Jo Mair and Kilbrien Chris took pole position in Section P. For the BE90 Area Qualifiers,

bringing together combinations vying for a place in the 2022 National BE90 Championship at Badminton Horse Trials, Eloise Van Praagh and Lough

quite slow in the way he does things. It’s very easy to get stuck in gear. My biggest thing was to have a good, strong pace, don’t be caught on time and just try and get him in the position to clear the fences.” And clear the fences he certainly did, resulting in Oliver’s third consecutive win in Kentucky. It was also the second 5* win for 14-year-old Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan.


With scores close between the top eight riders on the final day of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April, the pressure was on for world number-one Oliver Townend to jump a fault-free round to take the top spot. “I had a plan and I just went in and did it,” he says. “[Ballaghmor Class] was jumping exceptionally, which makes my job very, very easy. My biggest concern is I find it easy to have time penalties with him. He’s a big jumper and actually

Derg Joe triumphed in Section J; Cara Clasper and Goya Lancer in Section K; and Heidi Ford and Contessa III in Section L. n Summer 2021



Starting early? For young riders just getting started in the sport through to those looking to compete at the highest level, the BE Youth Programme offers the best training and competition opportunities available. BE’s Regional Youth Programme supports riders aged 12 to 21 up to Novice level through regional training and the annual Regional Team Championships. The Pony and Youth Performance programmes help to identify talented combinations looking to compete at the National and European Championships at each level. The Youth Programme is a fun, sociable, friendly pathway to help

riders get the most out of their BE experience, with benefits that include: n regional training opportunities with experienced BE-accredited coaches n training camps nR egional Youth Competition calendar and Regional Youth Championships n o n-event support, course walks and mentoring n o nline academy delivering webinars n h olistic approach to wellbeing, welfare and competition … by visiting guidance from compete/youth-eventing youth officials.


A SAD FAREWELL TO TIM The British Eventing community will greatly miss Tim Holderness-Roddam, who passed away suddenly in April, aged 78. A passionate advocate of eventing for many years, Tim gave his time freely to support, advise and promote the sport, including roles with British Eventing, British Equestrian, Blenheim and Burghley Horse Trials. Tim also owned West Kington Farms and Stud in Wiltshire with his wife, equestrian Olympic gold medallist and British Eventing President, Jane Holderness-Roddam. In 2010, Tim was presented with the British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the international equestrian world.

Boost for British riders Riders in the running for selection for the British teams heading to Tokyo in July for the Olympics and Avenches in September have been given a welcome financial boost. The Horse Trials Support Group (HTSG) committee has made a donation of £20,000 to the Let’s Make a Difference fund, which supports the training of potential Team GB riders. HTSG has also offered financial support to both Bicton and Aston

le Walls International Horse Trials after organisers stepped in to run 4* competitions following the cancellation of both Chatsworth and Bramham. “Let’s Make a Difference is doing just that and we are thrilled that this collaboration will provide an opportunity to make a difference during these challenging times,” says Helen West, organiser, Bicton International Horse Trials. n Summer 2021



the Horse Trials Support Group and both


Your voices With restrictions lifting and sport having started back in April, we caught up with BE members to find out their hopes and dreams for the 2021 season

My goal for 2021 is to make my 5* debut and to get two of my other horses qualified for 5* for 2022. I have a lovely seven-year-old who is aimed at the 7-year-old championships at Osberton at the end of the year, as well as two special six-year-olds who will be making their eventing debut, so I’m very excited about what their future holds. This is my first year out of young riders, so I want to continue establishing myself at 4* among the big names of the sport.” BUBBY UPTON, RIDER

Harry is my rising six-year-old and is making his eventing debut this season. I would love to get him eventing successfully at BE80, with the goal of stepping up to BE90 at the end of the season. With Pzazz, I would love to aim for another BE105. She is 20 this year, so I will see how she goes, but at the moment she’s loving life and showing no signs of wanting to slow down!” MILLIE MARBUS, RIDER

I’ve got a few really lovely young horses who are going to start their eventing careers and, hopefully, progress up the levels. However, Burghley has always been my dream. I’m a local girl and was a member of the Burghley Pony Club, so I’ve grown up in the park. Riding around the Burghley 5* course is my ultimate aim.” CONSTANCE COPESTAKE, RIDER

With Ivar Gooden we always have the hope of a place at the Europeans or the Olympics, but the GB team is highly competitive, so we’ll be aiming for a good Burghley run and, hopefully, improve on his 6th place in 2020.” IMOGEN MURRAY, RIDER

16 Summer 2021 n

I have always dreamed of completing a Novice, but every time we get close, something goes wrong. This season I want us to be more consistent – Sid has done a lovely dressage test, a nice show jumping round and many brilliant clears cross country, just never at the same event! Ultimately, I want Sid to remain happy, healthy and sound throughout the season.” HANNAH STILES, RIDER

Stepping up from unaffiliated to affiliated is scary but so exciting and my goal is to complete a BE80 course. The bigger goal will be to reach Novice level. Ultimately, I’d love to ride at Chatsworth, our local big venue. I had a dream to event as a child and now I’m taking the chance in my 40s to tick it off the bucket list.” SHELLEY THACKERY, RIDER

So far 2021 has been a complex year with the loss of Badminton, which was my initial goal. We’re very much at Plan B, C and D stage and a little unsure as to what is able to take place, but I’m looking forward to being back at Burghley.” WILL FURLONG, RIDER

I am working towards some consistent BE90 clears this year with the view to advance if Walter and I have both gained the necessary foundations. I have been working hard during the winter to ensure that, as a rider, I am fulfilling my responsibilities and it is time for Walter to do the same too.” BRIAN LEUNG, RIDER

This season, I would like to continue to develop the talented horses I am lucky enough to ride and produce some good results for my owners, who have been so supportive during the pandemic. My ultimate hope is to compete with my experienced horses at 5* later in the season.” IZZY TAYLOR, RIDER

I competed at Burghley with Charles RR for the first time in 2019 and finished 16th, so for 2021 I’d like to improve on that – maybe top 10. There are some lovely young horses coming through behind Charles, some at 3* level and a lot of horses stepping up to Intermediate level, so we’ve got a really exciting string with strength and depth coming through this year.” ALICIA HAWKER, RIDER


Would you like to be part of the British Eventing Life magazine reader panel? We’d love to hear from you, so get in touch

For expert tips, insight and advice on training, horse health, rider fitness and wellbeing, events and so much more…

check out the British Eventing Life website n Summer 2021




In 2020 the average 6RA (32.8) was 1.6 marks lower than the average 6RA of 2013 (34.4)


Percentage of people over the past five years who have scored within three marks of their 6RA at an event

Number cruncher As horse-and-rider pairings all over the UK aim to improve their performance in 2021, digs out the figures of most interest from the 6RA ratings


The largest improvement in 6RA in 2020. Anya Strilkowski improved Omard Ala’s 6RA from 42.8 at the beginning of 2020 down to 31.7 by their last event of the year. A season 6RA improvement greater than 11 has only happened 15 times since 2013


On average over the past five years, horses scored 1.3 marks higher than their 6RA at an event

18 Summer 2021 n


Average 6RA of a winning horse at BE events in the past five years


The 6RA is the average of a horse’s last six dressage scores. Why six? Fewer runs lead to too much variance, more runs do not improve the metric’s accuracy.




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24 Summer 2021 n

When the Going gets


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Update from

Athletes are actively involved with owners, organisers and BE to help make the sport better and make sure any changes now create a positive legacy for the next generation of event riders. It is up to us to find ways to keep the sport strong and viable. Could you use this time to reconnect with your local

Now’s the time to reconnect with each other, says ERA President Bruce Haskell. The common desire to see eventing thrive during

BE organiser? Just 20 years ago, local eventing was supported by local riders, parents and owners, setting dressage arenas,

the pandemic has seen the best of our sporting values

building show jumping courses and manning cross

come to the surface. It is reassuring to see the sport work

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who supported it. Isn’t it time to do the same again?

26 Summer 2021 n

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You need to take the rough with the smooth With the Olympics so close, world-class groom and British Equestrian’s Alex Van Tuyll talks resilience and determination


or anyone involved in equine sports, you’ll know you need a level of resilience not often required in other sports. Riders need a strong mind and will to negotiate the unexpected twists and turns involved in competing at any level. If you compete in cycling and get a puncture, you repair your bike or swap to another and continue on your way. For equine sports, you’re dealing with two athletes each time and it can feel that you need the stars to align for both horse and rider to achieve and maintain optimum fitness at the same time. I’ve been at many top-level competitions, such as Badminton, Burghley and events overseas, where on the first day of a three-day event, a horse that is groomed to perfection and at the top of their game unexpectedly gets an injury and is unable to compete. This is, without doubt, a significant setback, both physically and mentally. However, as this is so common to the sport, there is a need to accept that many elements are out of our control and there is an air of inevitability about such setbacks. The fact is today may not be your day, but your day will come. Taking the rough with the smooth has to become

“You can’t dwell on the plans you had, you need to adapt and move on, ready to go again”

Below Ahead of Tokyo, Alex ensured all of Team GB’s essentials were packed safely for the Games

second nature, which is just as well given the past two years. One of the greatest disappointments of 2020 was the postponement of the Olympics. For our top-level athletes, all their training has focused on the Games and its four-year cycle, producing horses to be at their optimum level just at the right time. They have used all their talent and skill to keep their horses at the top of their game, so delaying by a year was a major blow. But you just have to deal with it. You can’t dwell on the plans you had, you need to adapt and move on, ready to go again. This June, selectors across all disciplines make their decision at the last minute to ensure both horse and rider are fit to compete, but then it’s all systems go. A huge team spring into action to ensure Team GB are equipped with everything they need for success. The atmosphere at the Games is always electric. Everyone involved pitches in to do what needs to be done and every single one of us has an eye firmly on the ultimate prize: the team gold medal. As a team, we thrive on pressure. Tokyo, Team GB are coming and we’re going for gold. n n Having worked in horses – at the coal face – for more than 15 years, Alex freelanced as a groom for world-class athletes before taking on the role at British Equestrian, where she has been tasked with getting everything – people and horses – to Tokyo and back.

28 Summer 2021 n



Contact a Member of the Saracen Nutrition Team to Ensure Your Horse’s Diet Matches Your Goals

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30 Summer 2021 n




to win

Five Games appearances, three medals and the ‘experience of a lifetime’; William Fox-Pitt looks back at his Olympic memories as we gear up for Tokyo


y his own admission, William Fox-Pitt had gone crazy. The elite rider had become obsessed with the idea of having a horse for the 2012 Olympics in London and would do anything to get there. William had competed at the Olympics in the past – even medalling – but he wasn’t prepared to miss out on the chance to perform at the Games on home soil. And so he launched into a continental search to gather together a string of horses strong enough to compete with. “I can clearly remember trotting around an arena at Great Missenden on a horse called Lord Buckingham and they announced over the speaker that London had won the Olympic bid,” William recalls. “I was doing a dressage test and was in the actual ring and I can remember thinking, ‘wouldn’t that be incredible?’. “It was seven years before the Games and I knew I had to find a horse, so with the support of my owners, we went out to find young horses to build new partnerships with – it was very much an Olympic campaign. We bought four or five horses with the London Games in sight.” William travelled across Europe building his fleet of possible Olympians, carefully selecting a handful n Summer 2021



Above The London 2012 Olympic Games Left Osberton International Horse Trials Incorporating The Caunton Manor Stud Young Horse Championships 2019

32 Summer 2021 n

of horses that would stand a chance of peaking in the summer of 2012. It was a labour of love that proved invaluable as his top two rides were unable to compete ahead of the Games, leaving him on his second reserve to take his spot in Team GB as Olympics mania took over the nation. Looking back, the 52-year-old refers to it as being ‘lucky’ at having enough high-quality horses available to compete, but in reality, it’s just an example of his incredible desire to conquer the most high-profile competition in the sport. And of the five Games he’s been to, London was always going to be the ultimate for a British athlete. “The London Olympics was only going to happen once in a lifetime,” William says. “You felt the whole country was behind you. “Normally, you feel like your sport and your teammates are behind you, but people were watching eventing at the London Olympics who had never watched a horse in their life. They were just watching what Team GB were doing and you really felt you were part of one big team. “Being in the Olympic Village among all those amazing people and the whole of London coming to pretty much a standstill felt amazing and you thought, ‘that’s for us and what we’re doing’.”

WILLIAM FOX-PITT Left From left: Leslie Law, Jeanette Brakewell, Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt arrive from Athens Olympics Right The Olympic Games, Atlanta, 1996, riding Cosmopolitan II

From lining up alongside some of Britain’s greatest sportspeople to watching Muhammad Ali carry in the Olympic flag to sitting down for breakfast with would-be tennis gold medallist Andy Murray, William’s 2012 story was everything it was cracked up to be. Well, almost. LONDON CALLING After winning team silver and bronze in the previous two Olympics, the London-born rider was eyeing the top step of the podium in front of his home city. After losing his top two horses before the Games, William knew the chances of taking individual gold were slim aboard his third choice but was left wanting more after winning silver in the team event. “The most important thing was that I’d managed to build a partnership to fulfil my dream of getting to the Games, so there was a big energy and focus on Lionheart and I,” he says. “Then our performance was disappointing because Lionheart got very tired in the cross country, which was out of character and I don’t know why to this day. “He was a classy little horse, but on the cross country I was last to go in the British team. I have a theory that by going so late, he’d been on the boil for so long, hearing people go, that he was exhausted from his adrenaline pumping.

Above Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials, 9 June 2018

“So when I got on the cross country course he went, ‘yeah’ and then, ‘I’ve had it now’ and got tired, so we accrued time faults at the end, which was a shame because cross country was his best phase. And, typically, my time faults cost Team GB. “On reflection, there are things we could all have done differently, and my time faults were one of the things that cost Team GB a gold medal. We could have so easily won the gold medal there, even though the silver medal was amazing.” HAT-TRICK Despite winning three Olympic medals in a decorated career, William still believes he could have achieved more at the Games, such is his thirst for victory. His first experience was in Atlanta in 1996 as a 27-year-old when the trip was dominated by concerns about the temperature they’d be competing in. He missed out on a repeat trip to Sydney 2000 when both of his potential horses were no longer

“It was all about Team GB, which was so exciting because you felt the whole country was behind you” n Summer 2021



for the indiscretion, meaning Law was bumped up to gold and the team medal was upgraded to silver. “I remember we were all confused about it,” William recalls. “We couldn’t believe that once we’d left the venue they’d changed the medal. “No one had even dared think [that would happen] and I never asked Leslie what he thought, but I don’t think he had even thought about getting a gold medal.” William’s own quest for individual glory came and went with another unfortunate incident in Beijing when his horse was unable to train ahead of the Games due to severe muscle cramps from dehydration in the heat. However, another cherished team bronze medal was added to his collection.

Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, 2016

available for selection. At a glance, a team silver in the next Olympics in Athens appears to have put that disappointment to bed, but dig a little deeper and the sense of unfulfillment comes flooding back. “I had a big disappointment there because following an injury sustained in the cross country, we couldn’t show jump on the last day and I wasn’t on the team,” the former world number-one event rider laments. “In those days we had five in a team and three scores counted, so there were two discarded scores and I was one of them. “I was on a good horse and if he show jumped clear, he’d have won an individual medal. It was disappointing that he couldn’t get the top result he truly deserved. The fact we got a team silver is marvellous, but in reality, it had little to do with me.” William’s compatriot Leslie Law went on to take individual gold in Athens. Apart from being notable for being the only British individual gold in the past 49 years, controversy marks it out as one of the most unusual successes in the sport. With Germany’s Bettina Hoy leading the field at the end of the day, she was adjudged to have crossed the start line twice and was given a 12-point penalty

DREAMS OF RIO After living his London 2012 dream, the rider made his final assault on gold in Rio in 2016. This time there was even more focus on his performance with the Games coming less than a year after a cross country fall caused a head trauma that left him in an induced coma and unable to even climb his stairs weeks after the fall. Yet a combination of resilience and sheer determination saw William not only make it to Brazil but also into the lead with Chilli Morning after the dressage, with his favoured cross country coming up next. Only for his Olympics curse to strike yet again. “I made a ridiculous error, not of jumping but I crossed my tracks in-between two fences and I turned the wrong way,” he says. “Chilli Morning came out the next day and jumped a beautiful show jumping clear, so we probably would have won a gold medal, but we didn’t. It was another Olympics disaster. I was lucky to have other amazing moments, but that was a career low to have waved goodbye to a gold medal. “Winning that medal wouldn’t have made me a better rider and would have changed nothing, but it would have been a hell of a thing to get on my CV after all these years. I look at it now as a bad moment because it was the Olympics and it slipped away – it’s one of my regrets.” Even though the biggest prize eluded him, William recalls being part of Team GB and sampling the variety of terrains, temperatures and challenges each new Olympic host provided as unforgettable. William’s near misses go to show exactly what it takes to be a great Olympian: an unquenchable thirst for the biggest sporting prize and the ability to


“Winning that medal wouldn’t have made me a better rider and would have changed nothing”

34 Summer 2021 n


adapt quickly if individual pursuits do come a cropper for the greater good. TRUE CHAMPION “There’s a very fine balance between being an individual competitor and performing on your horse and thinking about how it works for the others in the team,” William says. “You’ve got to be able to adjust your riding and reactions to being in Team GB. Of course, you want to win your own medal, but the medal that comes first is your country’s and team’s medal.” Spoken like a true champion. It really is no wonder that the William Fox-Pitt name is synonymous with the sport and he is a role model for those hoping to reach the very top. This year, Team GB have a strong shot at gold with some of the most accomplished horse and rider combinations in the world and competing in Tokyo will provide unforgettable memories. While the spectators at the Games may be missing, the one thing Team GB can be assured of is that the whole country will be willing them on to succeed, William Fox-Pitt included. n READ MORE ON BRITISHEVENTINGLIFE.COM n British rider Georgie Spence’s Tokyo


Olympics experience

36 Summer 2021 n



His best Olympic dressage test came at Rio 2016. The score (24.7 in current scoring) is in the top 20 Olympic dressage scores since 1980

Below (l-r) Nicola Wilson, Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt, Mary King and Kristina Cook during the Team Eventing Medal ceremony at the London Olympic Games, 2012

Won 3 team medals at the

Olympics, one of 10 riders to do that. Others include Mary King (3), Andrew Hoy (3) & Bruce Davidson Sr (4)

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Finding your

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1 The right horse is crucial for a rider to achieve their dreams – and the search starts by using a professional who cares WORDS: KATIE ROEBUCK

38 Summer 2021 n



uying a new horse should be an exciting time in a rider’s life. It’s a step towards achieving a long-held ambition with the right horse, whether that’s competitive or not. Quite often the buying experience can be just the opposite. A rider can find themselves questioning their ability and confidence when faced with a horse or a seller who might be a little intimidating. And what they are looking at in the stable is not quite the advert they’d previously seen. Professional dealers used to be treated with suspicion, but with the rise of the internet, businesses have become more transparent. It takes seconds to leave a bad review and bring a reputation into question. The best in the business know that above all, being honest is valued most. Heidi and Ian Woodhead own DHI Event Horses, which produces and sells at the top of the sport. For a visiting client they normally select three or four

“It’s important to us that any client, whether they purchase or not, has a positive experience” HEIDI WOODHEAD Kerrie shows off her horses on Facebook, allowing her to show all aspects of the horses she’s selling quickly. And it all begins with the first phone call. “I vet people quite strongly on the phone and if I don’t think a horse is right for someone, I will say so,” Kerrie says. “I mostly have youngsters [making enquiries] and I’m careful who comes out as I don’t want six different riders on one horse over six different days – that’s not good for the horse. “If we get to the point where they are ready to turn up, we have already gone through the process.” Kerrie uses WhatsApp to communicate with interested parties, so if a horse isn’t quite ready, it’s a quick way to update on their progress.



horses, based on a client’s pre-discussed wish list. “This gives them the opportunity to compare different aspects and qualities of horses, such as character, feel and, of course, ability,” explains Heidi. COMPATIBILITY For Heidi, she says it’s helpful if people have a clear idea of their dos and don’ts. It’s a waste of time for everyone if clients don’t know what they want. “With new clients, I take the time during a phone call to try and grasp exactly what’s required,” she says. “If I don’t think we have anything suitable, I’ll happily say so. It’s important to us that any client, whether they purchase or not, has a positive experience. It’s essential to have a thorough conversation before they get in a car to Yorkshire.” Kerrie Fleming (pictured right) is a dealer in the south-west who sells to clients with a more modest budget, but despite the differences in client base, her policies are similar to the Woodheads.

HURDLES A source of sellers’ frustration is budget, as producing a horse is an investment. Kerrie’s horses tend to come from Ireland and she says her horses are vetted and strangles tested before they come over, then vaccinated, shod, wormed and have their teeth and backs checked. “A horse that’s safe, sound and scopey will not be £2-3,000,” Kerrie says. “People can have champagne tastes on a post office cider budget.” Kerrie’s horses are relatively inexperienced when they arrive, but she remains conscious of not overworking them simply to turn them around quickly. Each horse has a series of hurdles to jump before they’re ready to be sold, such as showing they are polite to handle and mount, able to hack in all traffic and weather, and have started jumping. The progress is then posted online for the world to see. “Quite often when a client comes for a trial, they don’t need to jump because they know what they are getting,” Kerrie says. “These posts take five minutes to film, seconds to upload and they say so much.” Upholding high standards is a crucial part of building a seller’s credibility, especially online. This was one of the key challenges facing HorseQuest, an online horse-selling n Summer 2021



website similar to AutoTrader, when it first launched in 2000. The site allows dealers and private sellers to post adverts for horses. It has become a popular directory for people looking to make a purchase and now boasts 740,000 monthly users. Initially, people needed convincing that the internet was safe, but once it was clear how fast and effective online selling was, the business began to thrive. And central to that is how founder Alison Roeves and her small knowledgeable team understand the emotional stress that comes with buying and selling a horse, whether it’s a first pony or 5* horse. “We strive to maintain the integrity wherever possible. A member of staff reads and approves every single advert before it goes live,” says Alison. “We encourage all buyers to spend some time doing their research prior to committing to a sale and try to ensure they understand the differences between buying from a trade or private advertiser. There are benefits to both avenues and it’s always worth exploring our dealer pages.” THE RIGHT FIT It’s one thing having a dream, but riders have to be realistic about what is within their reach. It’s not just skill level, but finding the right fit with family and work is vital to a long and happy partnership. To avoid getting it wrong, some riders arrive with a trainer when trying out a horse to avoid a mismatch. Some of the more reputable sellers, such as DHI, also offer advice to clients, an approach Heidi says goes down well. After all, horses aren’t cheap and Heidi says most in the eventing community agree horses deserve the best possible future. “Serious buyers are aware of their own limitations and I feel it’s my job to make sure I don’t put any

40 Summer 2021 n

“It’s about matching the right horse to the right buyer and it has to be what I say it is. I can’t sell anything I don’t believe in” KERRIE FLEMING

Below Heidi Woodhead and her husband Ian are old hands when it comes to selling horses

rider on a horse that won’t be suitable for their needs, whether they want to try it or not,” Heidi reasons. “Ian and I have years of experience training riders, from Pony Club to international level, and I’d like to think that people trust our input. We’ll always say if a horse isn’t going to be suitable for a rider.” For the Woodheads, a good reputation is built on honesty and good matchmaking. It makes sense that horses produced with time, energy and care should go to good homes where they will excel. This in turn promotes the business they came from. GOOD HABITS Kerrie’s horses are mostly green four- and five-yearolds and she establishes good habits from the start. But it wouldn’t take much for a more novice rider to come unstuck; youngsters need riders to guide them, not the other way around. “I don’t have anything sharp,” she adds. “They are youngsters who have been lightly backed and ridden away. They haven’t been schooled, so I work on that and the finer arts. They must have a good temperament – I can’t sell anything I don’t believe in. “[Riders] want someone honest who will tell them if they haven’t got something for them and point them in the direction of someone who might. It’s about matching the right horse to the right buyer and it has to be what I say it is.” Honesty, quality and trust. Get those ingredients right and that dream purchase won’t be too far away. n

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friends Being involved in eventing is about more than physical fitness; it can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing too


lla Richardson felt at ease again. The amateur rider was out in the field with her horses and something just clicked. The 24-year-old had been to hell and back during a battle to tame her newly diagnosed bipolar, while also dealing with the trials of the first Covid-19 lockdown last spring. Now she was back with her horses after weeks apart.

“I had a 6am time slot and went out hacking. It felt like divine intervention because it was the most amazing sunrise,” recalls Ella (pictured right) of the moment she reunited with her passion. “Getting back on was completely surreal and serene because it was almost like we were back where we belonged, seeing the horses again and having a connection. It made me feel like me again at a time when I really didn’t feel that way.” The sense of escapism Ella felt as she got back in the saddle is typical of many riders who combine their love for horses with eventing. And the journey she was taken on in a nightmare few months from the start of 2020 had made her n Summer 2021



A little help from our


cherish her love for that world even more. In January 2020, Ella had keyhole surgery to explore the chronic pain she’d suffered for more than a year and was diagnosed with endometriosis, shortly before anxiety and depression took hold. It became more severe when Covid hit, leading to the discovery that she had bipolar. For all of the negativity she was facing, Ella did find a new appreciation for the antidote that made her feel at peace. “I had lots of goals before lockdown, we all did. We all wanted to go to the lovely shows and win the red rosettes and sashes,” says Ella. “But at that point when the first lockdown came and we weren’t able to see our horses, all of those wishes of wanting a nice truck, the lovely gear or going to the shows and jumping big fences, that all went out the window. “I said, ‘I really don’t care about that stuff anymore, I just want to see my horses’. The simplicity of being able to sit in their stable and hear them munching, and getting up early for a winter’s morning ride was bringing me more joy than going to a show. “It put things into perspective for me and I think it showed a bit. We probably all took that time to reflect and while the sport is a great thing to do and have, we’re all doing it for the love of the horses.” It was this essence and the mental health benefits that inspired professional rider Matthew Wright to set up mental health charity Riders Minds, which offers

44 Summer 2021 n

Above Matthew competing at the Osberton International Horse Trials in 2018 Below Matthew leading out DHI Paparazzi at Bramham International Horse Trials

support and guidance for equine lovers in the UK. STRUGGLES Wright, who sadly lost his long-term battle with depression in February 2021, represented Great Britain at junior, young rider and senior level, but all that promise shattered after suffering a series of injuries that left him with mental and physical health problems. A cancer diagnosis soon after further compounded his struggle. “When my head was a mess, it was like a black cloak wrapped around me and everything I had was clouded by a fear of my own past failures,” Matthew wrote in a blog on the Riders Minds


Below Jay on her beloved horse, Cash

website. “I had no recollection of any of the good things I’d done, past achievements or happy thoughts, only things that were bad. “To people on the outside, I think I appeared lazy and ungrateful because the simplest of tasks seemed difficult to do. And to be honest, I didn’t want to go back on to the yard feeling a fraction of the person I used to be.” Riders Minds became Matthew’s passion and he aimed to use the charity to provide a platform for people with a shared love for riding to help each other when they too were suffering from dark times. “One of the biggest things that can help anyone overcome depression or anxiety is an understanding as to why they might be feeling the way they are,” Matthew’s post read. “It’ll also, hopefully, encourage people to talk or have a courageous conversation.” By inspiring people to get support and find the motivation to get back on their horse, Riders Minds could be unlocking one of the keys to making a recovery – time doing what they love. “Horses are a fantastic source of mental health support and therapy,” Ella says. “They are incredible animals and so emotive. I found that your mind almost goes into autopilot with the simplicity of being with them or grooming them, and all the noise and stresses you’re dealing with kind of stop for a little bit.” Sessions working with horses are proven to have

a positive impact on people with mental health issues and have formed part of recovery programmes for professional sportspeople at ex-England footballer Tony Adams’ renowned Sporting Chance clinic. PRESSURE But the influence of creating a relationship with a horse isn’t exclusive to people seeking treatment, it can be the perfect remedy for anyone wanting to maintain mental wellness. “I think animals in general, but horses in particular, read you,” says amateur rider Jay Mossman, who works as a dermatology nurse at University Hospital of Wales and was thrust into a front-line care ward when Covid struck last March. “My horse at the time, Cash, was such a cuddly horse and would almost know I was having a tough time. It was that muchneeded breath of fresh air after you’ve had a tough shift or week.” Jay and her horse shot to prominence thanks to her Cash for the NHS Facebook page, which followed their journey – and that of professional rider Fiona Davidson, who supported Jay – during the pandemic. While Jay has since sold Cash, she says the benefit of having him as an outlet during those initial months couldn’t be underestimated. “It was life-saving,” she remembers. “That might sound dramatic, but I know lots of people who seriously struggled throughout lockdown because they couldn’t do what makes them happy. “But us riders and owners have been so lucky throughout because there’s almost that sense of normality. The horses have no idea what’s going on outside and by being able to go to the yard and muck out or feed them or do their last rug change at the end of the day is that normality.” The sense of community Jay was greeted with thanks to her Cash for the NHS page highlights another key facet to eventing’s special appeal: the people. When she discovered her bike had been stolen from outside the hospital after a testing overtime shift, her post about it inspired followers to fundraise for her to replace it. Ella has a similar story to tell after starting the Short Strides podcast last April and she’s developed a strong network – including people heavily involved with Riders Minds – that means she never has to feel as if she’s dealing with her challenges alone. She

“The horses have no idea what’s going on and by being able to muck out or feed them or do their last rug change is that normality” n Summer 2021



Left (l-r) Fiona Davidson, Cash and Jay joined forces to tell their story online


WANT TO HAVE A CHAT? Riders Minds is the organisation founded by 5* event rider Matthew Wright and his wife Victoria to provide support and guidance for all horse riders. Set up in 2019, the charity aims to remove


also found support and openness among the people in the yard where her horses were living last year. SUPPORT “When I was on livery, I was surrounded by some incredibly supportive people,” Ella says. “I was having a hard day and I remember my yard manager found me crying in my horse’s stable and asked, ‘what’s going on?’ and was incredibly supportive. I was lucky to be in an environment where people were open to talking about if they were having a bad day or bad brain day instead of wanting to squash it down.” While the pandemic has accentuated certain benefits of eventing, that allure has always existed. It’s why once many people make their first foray into the sport, they’re hooked. And to top it all off, it’s a great way to keep the body in shape too. “You don’t realise how many muscles you use just to point that horse in the direction you want it to go – it’s amazing physically,” adds Jay. “Because you’re doing something physical you help your mental side as well. I’m not afraid to say I suffer from depression myself and have done for a few years now, but physically and mentally, they do intertwine. “If you feel rubbish and are just having a bit of a low day and it’s hard to get yourself out or get the motivation to do something, if you go for a ride that physical aspect releases all of those endorphins and they in turn help your mental health as well.” There’s little wonder why sitting in the saddle provides solace for so many. n READ MORE ON BRITISHEVENTINGLIFE.COM n How eventing benefits mental health n Ways that eventing boosts mental health

46 Summer 2021 n

Above Ella discovered how important her pursuit was after a difficult year

the stigma of speaking out by raising mental health awareness, understanding and confidence among riders and has inspired many to share their stories. As a result, a community of like-minded people has developed, helping each other live successful and happier lives alongside their shared passion for horses. The charity provides guidance and support as part of a free-to-access mental health and wellbeing resource on the Riders Minds website, equipping individuals with the skills to maintain good mental health. A hosted helpline was also created that’s available for all riders and is managed by the same call centre as Mind, Help for Heroes and Racing Welfare. For more information on support or to get in touch with somebody at Riders Minds, visit or call the free, confidential helpline on 0300 102 1540.


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n Carol Challis n Suzanne Garner n Ainslie Goulstone n Chris Raybould n Summer 2021




mong the riders, horses and event organisers who take centre stage, there’s a less-heralded group that is the heartbeat of the sport. Our network of loyal volunteers is crucial to the successful running of events across the UK and their work does not go unnoticed. But what does a volunteer do and how did they first start helping out? We organised a video call with five volunteers to cast a spotlight on eventing’s hidden stars.


Why do you love volunteering so much?

SG It’s a fun life and I enjoy it immensely. There’s such camaraderie among all of the volunteers, it’s great. SB It’s everything about it because you can see eventing close up as well. If you’re working behind the scenes, you feel much more part of the event. SG I totally agree. My daughters have evented and so have I, but not to a very high level. It’s a real privilege to be a volunteer in this wonderful sport.


Are the friendships you make an important part of it?

AG I wouldn’t have met Carol, Sue or Suzanne without eventing and we’ve become good friends. Another scorer and I went up the Mekong on holiday together 18 months ago and had a great time – it just reflects the camaraderie and friendships I’ve found within eventing; it’s been tremendous. CR At the beginning of an event, you all get together and have a chat. Then at the end, all the volunteers, organisers and riders congregate. It’s a really sociable

50 Summer 2021 n

“It’s a fun life and I enjoy it immensely. There’s such camaraderie among us all” event and we’ve missed it – hopefully, things will get better soon and we’ll be able to carry on. SG The friends I’ve made, I would never have met without volunteering. We have a fantastic bond. It’s wonderful and so nice to be involved. CC The people you meet, from the riders to all the officials and the other scorers, they’re just such fun and we have a great time. It’s the social side as well as keeping the old grey matter going.


How did you first get involved with volunteering?

AG I was involved with the Pony Club and had a horse that was with a professional, so I saw it from the owners’ side. I was asked by Ann [Allen] in 2001 to help with scoring when they were short of helpers at West Wilts. I was fascinated to see the sport from the other side and working together for a joint outcome was a great feeling and one I enjoyed. It helped me understand the sport a lot more. CC I’ve ridden most of my life, but my daughter has competed at a high level, so I was a groom for her when she needed one. Volunteering was something I could do to put something back into the sport we love. CR I’m fairly unusual because I don’t ride, I’m not that brave, so I considered getting involved with the sport without doing the dangerous bit. Coming into it was fairly easy as my daughter events and I supported her before she became professional. I got to know a few people,

reins while you’re there to supervise. It’s a good way to introduce somebody gently to it because otherwise they might come and think they won’t do it again if it gets a bit frenetic.


Other than scoring, what else can you do while volunteering?


What would your message be for new volunteers?

CR I’ve done all sorts. When I first started, I got given a crossing point and really enjoyed it. Then soon after they were short of somebody in the cross country collecting ring and that was scary at first, but I learned very quickly. Almost anything that’s needed to put on a good day’s eventing can be volunteered for. I’m part of a start-box team in the south-west that work together and we all know each other’s jobs, so if somebody is ill I can fill in for them and so can the other people in the team. I make the point of doing whatever job I’m given to the best of my ability.


What’s it like to welcome a first-time volunteer?

SG One of the things I’ve found most enjoyable is enabling people who haven’t done scoring before to help. Halfway through the day, they’ve understood it – it’s a great honour to help somebody. AG We had somebody at West Wilts last year who had never done any dressage adding up before. She was horsey but not a professional and she was terrified when she first arrived, but by the end of the day, she was confidently adding up sheets accurately and entering them into the computer accurately. That was great and she came back the next day. SB That’s important because we do sometimes get somebody come in and say they’re not used to it, but I say, ‘I’m rubbish at the maths, but it’s not about maths, don’t think of it like that’. You sit and help, then you’re friends with them. You’ve all helped me over the years, that’s what it’s all about. SG With the scoring we do with the computers – I’m talking particularly about cross country scoring – it’d be helpful if we had somebody who would like to learn how to do it with you, then they take over the

SG Contact British Eventing, the scorers and organisers to say you want to get involved and keep trying if you don’t get results immediately. When I was organising jump judging, I was sent a whole list of volunteers from around the UK and they’d contact me to say they’d heard I wanted somebody to help at Tweseldown, for example. It’s about phoning up and finding out who to contact in your area. CR I’d recommend coming to volunteer at something such as Bicton and see horses going at one-and-a-half intervals and get involved with that. Come and see eventing for what it’s really like. SB You can get right up to the fences and watch all the top riders. When you’re writing up a scoreboard and you go out there, you could have Zara Phillips on your left side and Andrew Nicholson on your right and they’re looking at it, it’s just so nice. CC In the south-east region, there are a dozen of us who regularly get together in groups and we so look forward to seeing each other. We all just seem to gel and there’s nobody who doesn’t fit in – we just love it when others join in. n



then I got involved in volunteering after being asked to help. After one event, I was hooked. SB I got dragged in to help by the chief scorer who was looking for volunteers. I got stuck into adding up the dressage and I thought, ‘this is quite good’. I’m a maths dunce, but at the end of the day, the scorer said, ‘you seemed to pick it up quite well, can I have your details to put in my little book?’ and I never got away.

Find out how you can join British Eventing’s merry band of volunteers, wherever you’re based in the country, by visiting n Summer 2021





Long, hot summer days may be great for spectators but the high temperatures can be a challenge for competitors. We asked the experts how riders and horses can keep cool in the heat

52 Summer 2021 n

Keeping their cool

Harry Meade’s Head Girl, Jess Errington, explains how she contends with the heat


What can you do to stop a horse overheating on a hot day?

Plenty of shade and access to plenty of water throughout the day is important and if you’re riding, try to ride early before it gets to the peak of the day, when it gets too hot, or late. If you can, reduce your riding time too. You can get fans to put in the stables, which is quite useful, when weather is really humid. Also, make sure there’s plenty of electrolytes in their feed or water because they’re going to sweat and the electrolytes will replace the salts.



How can you cool them if they do begin to overheat?

I keep them walking, however tired they are – I don’t like them coming back and standing still and having water. They need to get their heart rate and their temperature down. If there is any shade or trees, I get them walking under there. We use plastic jugs rather than sponges to wash them. I find jugs of water get on to the horse better. Rather than chucking it on, we run the water down their spine so it just covers their back and cools them more. We’ve found that’s good and much easier.


Is there anything you can do to prepare a horse for high temperatures before an event?

If you’re going to a three-day event and you know it’s going to be hot, clip them a week or two before. If they’ve got a coat, they’re going to get much hotter. Little things like using a shaped numnah rather than a big square, or getting one that’s quite thin material – you don’t want really thick, heavy material while you’re going cross country in the heat – all helps. Some horses are more used to the heat than others. If you’re going abroad somewhere hot, you’d need to acclimatise them beforehand – that can be done by working in exercise sheets and rugs. When you’re cantering them, you can ride in the peak of the day on purpose and build them up to dealing with the temperatures.


How do you transport your horses safely in the heat?


Is there anything a rider can do to avoid overheating?

Make sure all the windows and everything is open; that always makes a difference. But if you’re lucky enough to have fans on your lorry, turn them on. Travel can be difficult, but try and transport horses when it’s not boiling hot, take their rugs off and give them access to water while you’re on your journey.

It sounds silly but try to be as light as possible. Harry always goes on a bit of a diet before a big three-day event so he can help the horse as much as he can from a weight point of view – not that he needs to. Any extra weight a horse doesn’t have to carry with them when they gallop and jump can make a big difference on a hot day. If it’s particularly warm ahead of a cross country, before they go we put some water on the horse so they’re washed off. We put water over their haunches and their neck so they’re not going while they’re already sweating. n Summer 2021



Lessons from down under International riders Emma and Kevin McNab offer advice when hot weather sticks around


hen it comes to competing horses in high temperatures, we’ve had a lot of experience coming from Australia. We all love a nice warm day for an event, but it can be a challenge. The horses get hot, tired and sweaty, plus you have the added worry of dehydration and your horse’s limbs and feet on firm going. We always make the most of any available shade and keep plenty of water on tap. It’s important to cool them down after competing and cold water is great, but we have a secret weapon when it comes to helping cool our horses and making them as comfortable as possible. When we are at an event and the horses have finished cross country, we add some Absorbine® CoolDown™ to the buckets of water. It’s a completely natural, herbal body wash that helps gently cool them, as well as refreshing and soothing their muscles – and it conditions their coat. It’s so easy to use because you don’t need to rinse it off. We’re always mindful of the horse’s feet on hard ground and never go to a competition without Absorbine® Magic Cushion® because it quickly reduces any heat in the hoof. We always use this after the cross country or any time when the horses run on going that is firm. We use it a lot in the hotter months to make sure the horse’s feet aren’t sore.

How to tell that your horse is feeling the heat

n If a horse’s reactions are slower than normal, it’s a sure sign they’re getting tired. If they’re not so quick at a fence or take longer to recover than normal, watch out.

n Horses suffering from heat exhaustion tend to run with their heads down and feel as though they’re running into the ground rather than upwards and forward.

n A good eventing horse will always give their all, even if they’re struggling. So it’s up to the rider to watch out if they start to become clumsier or make a series of uncharacteristic mistakes.

n If the reins are getting a bit longer and the rider is having to kick a bit more, tiredness is likely to be setting in.

n Understand your horse and what’s not normal for them. Are they sweatier than usual, are they riding flat, or lagging a bit? The rider is bestplaced to notice. n Summer 2021


5 REASONS TO USE FLAIR® EQUINE NASAL STRIPS IN EVENTING FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips make breathing easier. When horses breathe hard, the soft tissues overlying the nasal passages are sucked in, reducing the airway diameter. This reduction in diameter increases resistance to airflow into the lungs. FLAIR Strips support the soft tissues overlying the nasal passages to decrease resistance to airflow.

1. Optimize health and performance at all levels. You may see horses at top levels of competition using FLAIR Strips and think it’s only for upper-level athletes. However, oftentimes, lower-level horses may not be as fit, may not be in a rigorous training program and may fatigue more easily. A less fit horse will work relatively harder at the same speed of exercise as a fit horse would and will also take longer to recover afterwards. Horses at every level of competition need to breathe easy during training and competition so they can perform their best.

2. Make breathing easier during dressage practice. Positioning a horse’s head behind the vertical is not natural and increases resistance and stress of breathing. FLAIR Strips are proven to reduce airflow resistance to make breathing easier.

Photo by Jon Bromley

3. Improve breathing efficiency between jumps. Did you know that a horse holds his breath when he jumps? A horse inhales when leaving the ground and does not exhale until the forelegs touch the ground. In stadium jumping, a horse may be holding his breath for at least one third of the round. FLAIR Strips improve breathing efficiency, so horses get the most from each breath.

4. Improve airflow when galloping and jumping on cross country courses. Horses are working and breathing extremely hard while galloping and jumping obstacles on a cross country course. Horses wearing FLAIR Strips have been shown to use 5-6% less energy, have an increased time to fatigue, and recover faster.

5. Drug-Free and Backed by Science* Developed by veterinarians, FLAIR Strips have been clinically proven to make breathing easier, reduce fatigue, reduce lung bleeding, conserve energy, and quicken recovery.



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Hot tips

Supplement expert NAF’s guide to keeping your horse in prime condition



Warm weather tends to bring hard ground, which is why eventing horses need to have resilient joints, so it’s important to nourish the joints daily to support fitness programmes and conditioning.

FIVE-STAR FACT n Feeding the right ratio of ingredients can help support overall joint function and capability.



Heat in legs increases during exercise and NAF believes helping to dispel heat can encourage



Help horses focus on their performance without

the recovery process by promoting limb cooling. Cooling, soothing and tightening sore and tired legs and tendons can be undertaken by using an easy-to-apply Ice Cool leg clay or gel after your cross country round.

the worry of frustrating flies and midges creating a distraction. Offer a repellent that is not only built to last but effective and easy to apply.

ICE COOL CLAY RULES n Clean legs, apply liberally; cover with damp paper; bandage legs with supporting pads

NAF OFF FACT n Deet confuses insects’ landing capabilities.



for up to 24 hours.



Supporting electrolytes with a strong digestive aid

As with most mammals, horses rely on sweating

that includes pre and probiotics to restore healthy

to control body temperature. We’re mostly aware

gut microbiota is essential. Heat can lead to digestive

electrolytes are lost in sweat, however, feeding

upset, which is why it is necessary to provide all-

a simple table salt is not enough.

round gut support over the competition period

WHY ELECTRO SALTS? n Magnesium, potassium and calcium support nerve conduction and muscle contraction.

and to underpin the training regime.

GASTRI AID’S HERE TO HELP n Digestion slows down when it is hot. n Summer 2021


Specialist Expertise for Sport Horses

Our dedicated sport horse team at Rossdales Equine Diagnostic Centre includes four senior orthopaedic clinicians, all of whom are recognised as Specialists, with multiple Diplomas.

Dr Andy Bathe is a clinical director and surgeon and is our senior Sport Horse Clinician. He has many years’ experience as a team vet in Showjumping, Eventing and Dressage, helping clients to prepare and keep their horses competing at a high level.

Dr Sarah Boys Smith is a clinical director and surgeon whose caseload includes a large number of competition horses. A highly experienced member of the team, she specialises in lameness and poor performance cases, as well as surgery.

Dr Rachel Murray is regarded as a leading authority on equine MRI and has led many studies investigating sport horse training, injury and performance. She has worked as a vet with the GB Dressage and Showjumping teams, including as a team vet.

Dr Mariana Castro Martins has a background in Showjumping and enjoys working with riders and trainers to help optimise their horses’ competitive performance. She has a special interest in regenerative medicine and advanced diagnostics.

We utilise a team approach, integrating with other colleagues specialising in imaging, dentistry, medicine, ophthalmology and dermatology, as well as specialist farriers, as required.

Contact us on 01638 577754 to discuss your requirements.


Stay on those healthy hooves

Farrier and FormaHoof Certified Applicator Bart Lambert gives the low-down on keeping hooves healthy

Being prepared

It’s important to be aware that hot, dry

Organiser Joe Weller explains how he helps ensure horse and rider welfare

your horse’s feet. And we all know that the old saying ‘no hoof, no horse’ is true. During the summer, the main danger is hooves becoming too warm as a result of too much walking with increased turnout


in dry paddocks, or inadequate moisturising. Horse’s hooves need to be flexible and not too dry, facilitating hoof expansion and contraction on movement – an essential part of the healthy hoof mechanism. Dry feet become brittle and crack more easily, which can make it harder to keep a shoe on and lead to a vicious cycle of cracked hooves, lost shoes and lameness due to short feet and hard ground. So what can we do to prevent it? I advise regularly moisturising the feet, which you can do with water. Many people believe hoof oil is the best option. I recommend people first wet their horse’s hooves and then treat them with hoof oil or balsam, which keeps the moisture in. An increasing number of my clients with horses with less-thanperfect feet are converting to FormaHoof. FormaHoof offers 3D hoof protection and support, without glue or nails. It’s particularly useful in summer as it helps to retain moisture within the hoof, while the AP resin flexes as a healthy hoof does, helping to absorb impact and concussion.


hen the forecasts are predicting a scorching-hot day, the pressure is on for organisers to play their part in helping riders and horses stay safe. For Norton Disney Director Joe Weller that comes down to education. Before competition starts, he says he always reinforces the importance of everyone working on-site to look out for flagging horses. “All the fence judges need to be aware of looking for tired horses. That becomes quite paramount through the day so everyone is aware of exhaustion at certain times,” he says. Looking out for the key indicators (see page 55) can make all the difference if a horse begins to struggle in the heat and can avoid them overheating or making a mistake when taking on a challenging fence. By communicating the biggest factors around a summer event, riders can take as much responsibility as possible. Although Joe says complementing that with the right facilities around the course helps. “On a hot day we’d have ice on standby – as much as we can get and store,” he explains. “We’ll also have watering facilities on the course straight after they finish. “You also need to make sure you have a stable free for a horse to recover and be monitored if they need it. We’d also make ice available for them there.” The spare stable is crucial too if the event is taking place at a course where shade is at a premium. It’s important to make the best of what a venue can offer. Regular water troughs are helpful and depending on budget, there are various other tools that can be called upon. “At Burghley, we used a mist machine and it sends out a very cold mist over the horses that cools them down naturally,” Joe adds. n

weather can inflict quite a lot of damage on

Top Pulled shoe before Above With Formahoof

READ MORE ON BRITISHEVENTINGLIFE.COM n Eventing in hot weather n Cross country aftercare n Summer 2021



ELECTROLYTES: A HORSE’S CONSTANT COMPANION Critical for normal biological function.

Electrolytes separate into charged ‘ions’ when mixed into a solution (meaning the solution can conduct electrical impulses but in itself is neutral) and include a range of salts and minerals. The primary electrolytes that are physiologically significant, are: • • • • •

Sodium (Na+) Potassium (K+) Calcium (Ca2+) Magnesium (Mg2+) Chloride (Cl-)

The + and – on these ions indicates their electron imbalance, and is key to the valuable role they play in physiology. • Sodium and potassium particularly are important for manipulating the movement of fluid from outside a cell to inside a cell, and vice versa, making them essential for managing fluid balance. • Management of fluid gradients using charges are how they assist with regulating hydration, as well as blood pH. • The ‘electrical’ gradients resulting from movement of these ions is what muscle and nerve function are dependent on. This is the reason why acute deficiency results in muscle problems such as ‘tying up’ in horses, as muscle contractions are dependent on the presence of calcium, sodium and potassium ions to function.

A dietary supply of electrolytes is essential to replace those lost in sweat, urine and faeces. Sodium in particular is often low in the horse’s general forage diet (can be less than 0.1%) and isn’t a typical nutritional additive in commercial feeds/supplements due to it negatively affecting the shelf life of products. Electrolyte deficiency and imbalance can take weeks or months to put right. Signs of electrolyte deficiency or imbalance can include poor performance, slow recovery after exercise, muscle problems (such as tying-up), reduced sweating, increased risk of fracture and ‘thumps’. During exercise, especially in warm weather, horses can also lose significant levels of electrolytes when sweating. When electrolyte loss exceeds intake, this can result in an electrolyte imbalance that a normal diet will not replace.

Micro Encapsulation Technology™ means no salty taste and pain-free for horses with gastric ulcers Published research showing SafeSalt increases electrolyte and water intake when compared to salt block access

Contrary to popular belief, multiple pieces of research have shown that providing ‘free choice’ electrolytes in the form of blocks/licks does not guarantee your horse is receiving the amount they need, as research has shown that voluntarily intake is not relative to requirements and in some cases especially in horses in work can be considerably below what they need. The best strategy for feeding electrolytes is to feed the same amount every day and allow excess to be excreted, rather than only providing them on harder work days or when competing. Concentrated electrolytes have been shown in studies to cause gastric ulcers or to worsen them if already present (imagine an ulcer as an open sore on your hand and then imagine if salt/electrolytes were rubbed in it). An alternative solution to avoid these problems is to use fat coated salt/electrolytes. These do not taste salty and do not dissolve in the acid environment of the stomach. Once they pass into the small intestine the fat is digested and the electrolytes are released to be taken up into the blood without irritating the sensitive stomach lining. This is referred to as ‘microencapsulation technology’, and is used for both our Complete Electrolytes and SafeSalt, meaning they can be safely fed to all horses and are much more palatable.

Complete Electrolytes contains all the key electrolytes lost in sweat - and in a ratio that matches sweat loss

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Grooming top tips Saffie Osbourne n Summer 2021


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64 Summer 2021 n

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First impressions Presenting yourself and your horse in the best possible light wows the judges and boosts your confidence too. We talk to experts NAF and Smart Grooming for their tips on tip-top turnout


n Jawline Sharpen up the

Above Alexandra Reeve and immaculate My Cornish Princess, Mitsubishi Motors Cup 2019 Below Wash the tail after exercise with a good conditioning shampoo

horse off with a body brush or flick brush and curry comb to remove the last of the loose hair and dust. Then use a rolled-up towel to rub the coat to polish. If your horse is looking in need of a tidy-up, it’s time to get the trimmers and scissors out, but be careful to avoid the whiskers. The following are the key areas to trim. n Bridlepath This will enable your bridle to sit neatly between your horse’s mane and forelock; make sure they never get any wider than two fingers’ width.

Up your grooming game by watching the pro grooms at work and don’t be afraid to ask them for tips and advice they can share

appearance of your horse’s head to make it look more striking by trimming under the jaw and chin. n Ears Trim straight down the front of the ears. n Legs Remove excess feather on your horse’s lower legs. Follow the lay of the hair so the cut doesn’t look so harsh. n Tail Show jumpers’ tails are usually left unpulled with the bottom trimmed straight. When cutting your horse’s tail, consider how high he carries it. BEFORE AN EVENT The week before an event, ensure your horse has been trimmed up, tail tidied and cut to the correct length with a nice straight finish, and mane thinned and tidied to make plaiting as easy as possible. After exercise, wash off with a good conditioning shampoo, massaging in well, then apply a detangler to the tail and dry overnight without brushing it through – by waiting until the tail is dry, the brush will go through much more easily. Always start brushing from the bottom of the tail and work your way up, gently teasing out knots. COMPETITION DAY For event-day finishing, wash your horse’s legs as close to your presentation time as possible to keep them clean. Touch up any unwanted white hairs with human hair n Summer 2021



or the event horse, making a good first impression is essential. Whether you’re coming down the centre line, leaving the start box or preparing for the show jumping phase, being immaculately turned out is important. For immaculate grooming, there are no secret ingredients or magic wands; it all comes down to attention to detail. Leave nothing to chance and no stone unturned. When so much time, effort and patience has gone into your training, make sure competition grooming preparation is also high on your priorities so your turnout matches your performance. Competition turnout will be much quicker and efficient on the day if you have a daily grooming routine in place. Rubbing your horse down daily with a rubber curry comb will loosen hair, scurf and dirt, while regular hot clothing will lift out loose hair and dirt from the rub down. Use hot water with antibacterial solution to help lift the dirt. Dip in a cloth, such as a tea towel, wring out and then firmly rub your horse’s body, regularly refreshing the cloth in the water. Once dry, brush your


Event day

Smart Grooming’s guide to your must-have products n Silicon-finishing spray, such

keep everything in one place.

n Plaiting wax – keeps flyaway

n Quick Unpick – a speedy way

manes under control. n Stain remover spray – gets rid of last-minute stubborn marks. n Separate competition grooming/turnout kit – keep clean specifically for events. n Hand towels – have at least two to hand for emergency wipe overs for horse and rider.


n Folding steps or block – for

dye and apply purple shampoo or whitener to white socks. If applying chalk, rub in well. Hoof oil can be sticky and collects dust and dirt, so apply just before you enter the ring. Plaiting with thread is the best option. Big plaits with even sizing will add more top-line and you can add false plaits to a thinning mane at the bottom by saving the

nA plaiting apron – ideal to

as Ultra – makes plaits shine.

to unplait. Cut the thread, hose the mane down and the plaits will start unravelling. n Coat conditioning spray and a fleece mitt – perfect for giving a quick buff over and shine. nH oof oil – a solid type will ensure no spillage. n A wash-off lotion that contains witch hazel and essential

standing on for plaiting

oils – helps with cooling

and unplaiting.

and bruising.

mane from ‘pulling’ and adding it into the bottom plaits. Keep a microfibre cloth or shining mitt handy to pick up any dust from the coat as a last-minute touch-up. Use baby oil or a gloss around the eyes and muzzle and under the tail to add shine. Quarter markers can really make your horse stand out and a fabulous, clean shiny coat will

give the best results. Keep the coat lying flat and add a little water to the coat using a body brush, but do not saturate. Finishing or quartermarking sprays are great for good definition, but avoid using on cross country day as they can clog pores and lead to the horse overheating. Free-hand work looks best, so try using a fine-tooth comb and a firm, small body brush. n

EXPERT TOP TIPS Make sure the grooming

We use NAF

Apply a good-quality tail

kit is clean so dirty brushes

Silky Mane &

detangler to a freshly

are not reused on clean coats. Either

Tail D-Tangler on a

washed tail and brush through

keep a set of brushes for using on

daily basis for the

carefully. This will make it really

competition days or ensure the

horses as it makes it

quick to brush through on the

everyday set is washed and clean.

super-easy to brush

competition morning. Plaiting

To get white socks extra-white, we

through their tails

wax is also a game changer.

use Smart Grooming Leg and Body

and stops the hair

Quick and easy to use and it

Whitening Powder – just sponge on

from splitting. On

helps keep the flyaways down

to wet legs after washing, leave to

event days we also

for a smooth finish.”

dry and brush off.”

use it on a wet brush to do our quarter


marks as it makes the coat shiny!”



66 Summer 2021 n

Don’t forget

If you are using a new brand or product range, check they conform to FEI requirements. Always patch test and use well before an event, just in case there are any reacti ons

Great grooming

Product advice from NAF



be applied the night before,

Plait it Up spray provides excellent

mixed into a smooth paste and

If your horse’s mane and tail look

grip for easy-to-prepare, perfect

can then be bandaged. It can also

thin, apply Silky Mane & Tail

plaits, fixing wisps in place.

be applied on the day in powdered form, before painting the hooves.

D-Tangler, which leaves a nongreasy, non-sticky natural shine.


It doesn’t attract dust and allows

Ideal for white socks and


mud to be easily brushed from

stockings, Brighter Than White is

Hooves should be well cared for,

hair, helping to prevent damage.

a leg and body whitener that can

trimmed or shod. To show them deliver a shiny, quick-drying polish

Get rid of any stubborn stable

that stays put. The brush

stains that have miraculously

eliminates snagging on nail heads

appeared overnight. Muck Off

for those that are shod and the

stain remover spray lifts the stain

natural Shellac does not require

clean away with no more washing

removal, rubbing off with the

and scrubbing.

horse’s normal activities.

When the horses are

We use hot

NAF Shine On is our

brought in from the fields

water with

secret weapon to

or after work, they are brushed or

NAF Tea Tree &

giving our horses’ coats

washed off, followed by being hot

Mint Shampoo,

shine and a finishing touch

clothed to cleanse the coat. We

which really gets

that gives an extra edge.

then add NAF Shine On and buff

the dirt from their

Just spray some on to a

with a sheepskin pad or a soft

coats. Not only

grooming mitt and dust

brush. The horse is then ready for

is it really effective

away to give that extra

the rug to be added pre-bedtime,

but it’s also

shine on your horse’s coat.”

the coat remains in excellent

antibacterial and

condition and we have no issues

it smells great too!”

with rugs rubbing.”



TOM MCEWEN, RIDER n Summer 2021



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68 Summer 2021 n


It’s all about the love of Owner spotlight the sport The passion and pride owner Wendy Coney takes in her horses’ performance and progress is what fuels her love for eventing


upporting our children through Pony Club is how our adventures with eventing began. What was originally a wonderful way to switch off from work has become an all-consuming passion. We now have nine eventing horses of different ages and at different levels. This includes older horses who have been injured but we have returned to their top form, as well as some home-breds that are coming through. And we have Mermus R Diamonds and Kananaskis, who both competed at 5* last year in Pau.

Above Mermus R Diamonds and foal Right Richard Coney with home-bred HG Woods PHOTOS: EQUIGRAM PHOTOGRAPHY

ALL ABOUT PROGRESS As anyone involved in the sport will know, finding the right horse that has the right temperament, fitness, ability and potential is incredibly difficult. We have learnt over the years that progess with horses is slow but to watch their progress really is a sight to behold. I started with horses relatively late and not being a rider – I’m a happy hacker – I had minimal knowledge. However, we have been surrounded by amazing

people, including Judy Bradwell, Ros Canter, Tracy Woodhead, Caroline Moore and others, and my inquisitive nature saw me grill friends and professionals for knowledge, which meant I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. When horses are competing, n Summer 2021



at any level, they are athletes and it takes a lot of management and care to keep them fit and healthy and not overdoing it. It’s a fine balance to push a horse just enough to fulfil its potential and this can only come with experience, input from your team and the instinct of your rider.

Top Mermus R Diamonds Above Richard (far right) at the 2019 Europeans

Below Richard competing with first horse Kananaskis

WORKING TOGETHER The relationship between owner and rider is an essential one. For the best possible results, you have to work together and honesty, openness and communication are key. Having a good rapport with your rider really is the key to unlocking a horse’s potential. As an owner you can see whether a horse and rider combination looks a good one and you can spot if the horse looks unhappy or is struggling, but this only tells part of the story. The amount of work riders put in is incredible and they are the ones who fully understand the horse’s true capabilities.

70 Summer 2021 n

Of course, our main rider is Richard Coney, the 5* event rider and our son. This adds a totally different dynamic as an owner. The highs and lows are intense as there really is nothing more exciting than watching your children compete on horses that you have brought on from youngsters, which is what we’ve done with most of our horses, including Mermus R Diamonds and Kananaskis. Mermus R Diamonds arrived as an incredibly sensitive fiveyear-old. She was ridden by Ros Canter, who was so patient with her. It was Ros’s gentle steadiness and pace that taught us the importance of taking things slowly. When Ros was no longer able to ride her, we encouraged Richard to take the reins, despite him being away at university and having other horses to ride. They clicked during the winter and haven’t looked back. She really has gone from strength to strength, competing at 5* in Pau last year and finishing ninth. HIGH HOPES Kananaskis was Richard’s first project when he was 15 and he and the then-five-year-old have progressed beautifully together.

They have competed in the Europeans, Junior, Young Rider and Nations Cups with great success and it really has been a true partnership. The partnership has continued to flourish, progressing from 4* to 5* during 2020 and we have high hopes for 2021 and beyond. DISAPPOINTMENT Last year, initially, seemed like a disaster, but it turned out to be a fantastic year for us. We’d spent the winter preparing both Mermus R Diamonds and Kananaskis to reach 5* fitness early in the season, but as events were cancelled, we had to make the decision whether to turn them out or keep them ticking over. We opted for the latter and were able to get out more than we thought we would, including events overseas, with some fantastic results, so it was the right decision. This year is more problematic. Like many others, we were focused on Badminton and Burghley and it’s disappointing that they aren’t going ahead. The Olympics remains a possibility, but with so many strong combinations in the running, it may not be Richard’s time yet. For Mermus R Diamonds, we will use the time to embryo transfer in the hope that she produces another foal so the time isn’t going to waste. PASSION Eventing is a difficult sport as you are always faced with uncertainty, which can make it hard to plan. The expense is also a factor to be considered. It’s not just the cost of buying the horses but ensuring they are well cared for too, plus making sure they have the training and education they need to fulfil their potential. However, no owners go into eventing for financial reward – we do it for our love of the sport. n

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Gaining your cross When it comes to a successful, smooth and safe cross country round, the most important ingredients are the physical and mental fitness of both horse and rider. Are you ready to nail that perfect, penalty-free round? WORDS: ELLIE HUGHES



or any successful cross country round, the ability to think and react quickly while riding fluently from fence to fence taking the most economical lines possible is of utmost importance. At all levels, competitions are so often won or lost by a few seconds here or there. But how do you know if your horse is physically and mentally ready for the job? And what should we be practising at home to consistently deliver winning performances? When it comes to physical fitness there is no such thing as a one-regime-fits-all, according to the experts. Just as people require

Above Ellie Hughes is a rider and freelance writer and editor

72 Summer 2021 n

specific exercise plans that take into account their current fitness, lifestyle, bad habits and long-term aims, so too do horses. How much work your horse will need to perform at his best and minimise the risk of injury will depend on factors such as breed, temperament, age, soundness history, your facilities and his baseline fitness. “Most horses that are in regular work and ridden five or six days a week will only need their exercise regime tweaked slightly before

they tackle a BE80, BE90 or BE100,” says international rider and coach Emily Baldwin. “So long as they have plenty of variation in their work, for example, hacking two or three times a week, and a flat and a jump session, horses competing at the lower levels don’t need to gallop. “They should, however, do at least one day a week of faster work to get their heart rate up. I call it a ‘huff and puff’ day. It might consist of longer or faster spells of canter work incorporated into a hack, it could be slower work on hills or it could even be cantering around an arena for three or four minutes at a time.

Far left The ability to react quickly when riding fence to fence is honed through training Left Pre-season training camp with Helen Bell and Julie Lawson

Right A cross country jump session once a week is good for your horse’s general fitness

country edge “You can do this by marking out 475 metres in the field and timing yourself [although you also need to factor in the effect of the terrain],” she says. “Some gallops have distances marked out, which can be really handy to help you get a feel for your speed.”

The important thing is that the horse blows and uses his lungs.” The number of huff and puff days needed will depend on the individual horse. “Horses with plenty of thoroughbred in them will likely only need one huff and puff day, whereas cobs, warmbloods and natives might need two,” adds Emily. PEAK FITNESS And while you focus on your horse’s fitness, don’t forget your own: “When you do canter work at home, shorten your stirrups, get up out of the saddle and practise your cross country seat so you are developing the strength and balance to help your horse,” advises Emily. Physical fitness is only part of the cross country equation. Developing a feel for pace is an important skill that also needs to be honed. The rule book says you should ride at 475mpm at BE100

and 450mpm at BE90 – but what does that actually mean and how do you know what that speed should feel like? Emily advises measuring a set distance and using a stopwatch to get a feel for the right pace.

Above Fitness work on the flat helps you ride the most economic lines so your horse conserves energy and achieves a good time

WALK THE COURSE At the competition, there are plenty of preparations you can do to make sure you don’t waste valuable seconds, starting with careful course-walking. “Always look to see if there is an inside line you can ride,” advises Emily. “And when you’re walking from fence to fence, look behind you to make sure you have walked the most economical route.” Identifying places in advance where you can make up time is an important way to shave off seconds. “This should never be in front of a fence, though,” warns Emily. “Kick away from a jump on landing and note where you n Summer 2021



have long galloping stretches with straightforward fences and you can let the horse jump out of his stride without interrupting the rhythm.” Once out on the course there is far more to riding a quick time than speed. “To conserve energy and make the time, you have to be able to ride the most economic lines in a smooth and balanced fashion,” says former Olympian and eventing coach Eric Smiley. “It all starts with training on the flat. You can’t take tighter lines unless you can ride smaller shapes.” PUTTING IN PRACTICE So what should you be practising at home? “If you’re going to ride tighter lines, you need to remove some of the interruptions to the approach,” says Eric. “Every time you make a deliberate turn and set-up, not only are you losing valuable seconds but you’re interrupting the flow. Try taking out the turn and replace it with a curve. This allows you to keep the approach smooth and makes it far easier to leave the responsibility of jumping to the horse. “Don’t look for a stride; instead

Right Practising at home will help you feel prepared and confident on competition day

focus on riding at the appropriate pace in the right balance on a curve. Nine times out of 10 you will end up in a good spot to take off.” Eric advocates studying the top riders, who make achieving the optimum time look effortless. “Watch Tim Price ride a cross country,” he says. “He never looks like he’s going fast, but there are never any interruptions to his rhythm. He doesn’t push or pull, his horses are so balanced and he trains them to be quick-thinking so he can afford to turn in tighter.” n Left You need to practise your gear changes to ensure they’re smooth so you can achieve quick and clear rounds


PRACTISE GEAR CHANGES The ability to be able to ride smooth gear changes is one of the key ingredients for a quick, seamless round. “You need to practise going from 450mpm [cruising speed at BE100] to 250mpm [for a technical fence] and vice versa,” says Eric Smiley. “This type of training is best done in an open space with a few fences dotted around, but you can also do it in an arena. The horse needs time to become accustomed to being in a balance, between the aids and attentive to them. This way he will conserve energy.”

PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED To ride more quickly and take tighter lines, the horse has to be used to reacting quickly to whatever he finds in front of him. Keep fences small to start with and practise turning into them more tightly, using half-circle approaches, and jumping at angles. “Don’t try and look for the perfect stride,” says Eric. “Keep turns smooth, ride the balance and let the fences come to you.”

READ MORE ON BRITISHEVENTINGLIFE.COM n For more cross country training tips and expert advice, visit

74 Summer 2021 n

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Right Phoebe on top form at FEI Nations Cup 2019, riding Union Fortunus Below The hope is Phoebe’s new yard will attract new owners



A balancing act H

aving been based at my parents’ house in Somerset, I’ve now taken a leap of faith and set up my own yard professionally. The set-up at my family yard was great, but the time had come for me to move on to something bigger. My new yard is fantastic. It’s in Gloucestershire with 108 acres, which is just the dream. It has a horsewalker, indoor and outdoor arena and offers hacking with hills and grassland. I’ve created 15 cross country jumps, so it really does have everything I need. As a rider, I have so many ambitions, both for this season and much further ahead. However, I’ve learnt that it can’t all be about winning championships, I have to make the yard work as a business. Anyone involved in eventing will know this is an incredibly expensive sport and while many

will think I’m supported financially by my parents, this isn’t the case. While they play a really active role in my career – my dad Tony drives the HGV and my mum Jackie manages me – I need to make my yard a success in order for me to compete. The key to making it a success is attracting owners, so that’s my focus. The business has to come first as if I’m worrying about how to pay the bills, I won’t be able to focus and I’ll lose my competitive edge. PARTNERSHIP The beauty of eventing is that you don’t need an incredibly expensive horse. There are so many factors to consider and you can create a really, really special partnership with the right horse.

Above The new yard boasts 108 acres, indoor and outdoor arenas and a horsewalker

I had to sell my best horse, Union Fortunus, despite winning multiple medals with him as I needed to invest in more horses. He was only ever going to achieve 3* and while I’d have loved to have kept him, I knew he wouldn’t make the step up to 4*. Thinking of the bigger picture, I had to sell him for the sake of my career n Summer 2021



For U21 National Champion Phoebe Locke, running a thriving yard and business is as much a priority as winning competitions


another season at 4* and then look at matching him with a junior. I also have Clotaire De Ferivel, who we have kept at 2* with some great results, and Bellagio Declyange, who was eighth in the eight- and nine-year-olds at Burnham Market last season. Cooley Challenger, who I produced from never eventing to 4*, may be ready for a 5* later this year. We have an incredible bond and he’ll do anything I ask of him – who could ask for more? longer term and have funds to reinvest in more horses.


LAST SEASON It was difficult for everyone in 2020, but despite the challenges, I had an amazing year. I was lucky enough to travel abroad and at Strzegom, Poland, I won the CCI4*-S on Pica D’or and came second in the CCI2*-L on Clotaire De Ferivel. This win, aged 20, made me one of the youngest riders to ever win at 4* level and stepping up to this level made people sit up and take note. The 2020 season was definitely a stepping stone for this season and I’m really excited for what’s to come. MY HORSES I have 11 at the yard currently; my four top horses, four younger horses and then a few that are recovering from injury. I ride eight or nine of them each day. Pica D’or is 18 this year, so maintaining his level is a huge team effort. He’s so intelligent and can be a tricky ride – he knows when he’s at home or at an event and behaves very different! Despite his age, he’s not ready to slow down yet and people often comment on how young he appears. He’s an incredible horse and loves cross country – he’s like driving a Ferrari. I’d like to do

Above Phoebe rides Union Fortunus at FEI Nations Cup 2019

RISING TO A CHALLENGE I’m very lucky as I don’t struggle with nerves. I think competing from such a young age has meant that I’m used to intense pressure and I’m able to blank it out and focus purely on my own performance. You can’t let the occasion or the event affect your performance – you need to remember that you’re there to do a job, end of story. In the European Championships, I’m often one of the first riders out, which makes it easier to stay calm and focused. Also, I spend a lot of time training younger riders and I believe this enhances my performance. I can see what can go wrong and identify issues from a different perspective, which I

firmly believe has helped me to develop as a rider. LOOKING AHEAD I have some big plans for 2021 and I’m thrilled that the sport has been able to resume. One of my biggest goals was to compete in the Bramham U25, but as that has been cancelled, I’m focusing on the Senior Nations Cup. I would love to travel abroad this year, but as costs have risen around 380%, this may be out of the question, but we’ll see… Longer term, I would love to be selected for Team GB at the Olympics and, of course, to compete at the very top level at Badminton and Burghley. Having already competed at European level through Ponies, Juniors and Young Rider, it would be amazing to follow Laura Collett’s footsteps and compete in the Senior European Championships. However, all of this will only be possible if I can make my yard a success. I’m excited at the thought of owners investing in a younger rider and this will give me the opportunity to achieve all of these goals. It’s a genuinely exciting time without a doubt but with plenty of pressure and challenge, which I love. n

TIPPED FOR THE TOP Under-21 National Champion Phoebe Locke started her career in show jumping and competed at the Horse of the Year Show and Hickstead for six consecutive years, as well as winning at Olympia. Aged eight, she was selected for the England show jumping team and represented GB for a further five years, winning many gold and silver medals. Aged 14, she turned her attention to eventing and was named Best 14 and Under Rider in Great Britain. She represented GB at the European Championships every year from 2014 to 2017 and in 2019, and was named U21 National Champion in 2019.

78 Summer 2021 n

Maximise your warm-up Set yourself up for success with BE-accredited performance coach Linda De Matteo’s top tips to getting the most out of your warm-up own experience and confidence as a rider. Here’s Linda’s guide to maximising your warm-up and gearing yourself up for the best possible results. GET AHEAD Plan your day and factor in enough time for packing, loading and travelling to the event. Make sure you have sufficient time to get ready once there, declare yourself to stewards and include all elements of your routine. Ignore other people’s plans and focus on what works for you and your horse. CREATE A PLAN FOR YOUR WARM-UP Think about how long it takes to warm up your horse on the flat by practising at home. Many horses

and riders benefit from walking and relaxing before the warm-up begins. Having a well-trodden system helps both horse and rider by adding security to the routine, even in a new environment or when things change unexpectedly. Above Linda De Matteo is a BE-accredited performance coach

KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR YOU Some horses require lots of loosening cantering to warm up while others need to be calm and focused. Tailor your warm-up to your horse’s needs – there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A good coach will help you to create a set of exercises that suit both you and your horse. n Summer 2021




he warm-up is an often overlooked but critical element of any competition. Making the most of the time you have available with a clear plan will ensure your day gets off to the best possible start. The working-in area can be one of the scariest places to be and it’s all too easy for both horse and rider to get tense. However, getting your warm-up right not only warms up the muscles but also helps to prepare both you and your horse mentally for the challenge that lies ahead. The success of your warm-up will vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the discipline, type of working-in area, the experience and behaviour of your horse and, of course, your


rider and the wider atmosphere at events. Take a deep breath, give them reassurance and focus on what you want to achieve before you go into the ring. Remember, you’re a team and you need to work together.


DON’T OVERDO IT It is easy to over-jump horses in the collecting ring in order to build your confidence, but have faith in your training and ability. The hard work is already done, so don’t be tempted to train during your warm-up. A maximum of 6-8 fences should be adequate, especially on hard/soft ground. MANAGE YOUR MINDSET Declare yourself to stewards on arrival and find out if they’re running to time and how many riders are ahead of you. This will help you stay focused and relaxed. Staying calm is key, so identify any areas that are likely to cause you anxiety ahead of competitions. Horses aren’t machines and they will pick up on tension from the

Above Make yourself known to the stewards in good time so that you can concentrate on your warm-up

Below Focus on what you want to achieve before going into the ring, stay calm and breathe deeply

LOOK AROUND YOU Take some time to observe the dressage test or show jumping course, which will help you to identify anything unusual. Watch other riders in the ring as it can increase your confidence and provide reassurance that you can complete the course too. Don’t be intimidated by other riders – while they may look cool and calm, they’re likely to be nervous too. OBSERVE WARM-UP ETIQUETTE n Remember that left hand to left hand/faster pace has the outside track. The only time this can change is during jumping working-in when riders tend to walk on the outside track, which allows those at a faster pace and jumping to have the inside track to approach fences. n Keep looking ahead so you can plan where you are riding and see where other riders are going – watch their eyeline. n Be careful when stopping,

either leave the track or stay away from the working-in fences. n Don’t stop to talk to friends as this will impede others’ warm-up. n Make sure you know which way fences should be jumped. Red on the right, white on the left! It’s always helpful for others working-in to jump if you shout which fence you are approaching, such as cross pole/ vertical/spread. If you’re not sure, ask. n If you think a rider or pedestrian hasn’t seen you are about to jump, call out and name the fence. n Always be pleasant and polite to others in the ring. Remember, for BE80(T) competitions, coaches are always available at the show jumping warm-up (and sometimes in the dressage and cross country phases). We’re here to help, so ask if you need any assistance – it can be difficult for coaches to identify those who need help, so make sure you ask, even if it’s just to change fences or watch you over a fence. IF THINGS GO WRONG Don’t panic, stay calm and breathe deeply. Even the world’s most accomplished riders have lessthan-perfect warm-ups. Focus on riding positively and don’t let your mistakes become your focus. AND FINALLY… Once warmed up, embrace the moment. This is it – this is what you’ve been working for, so go out and enjoy every moment. n READ MORE ON BRITISHEVENTINGLIFE.COM n For more training tips and expert advice, go to

82 Summer 2021 n

Want to be seen by the eventing industry? Contact Sally James at sally@thebrightmediaagency. com or 07514 623564 to find out how British Eventing Life can help to promote your brand in print and online





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Jump 4 Joy specialises in producing cross country jumps

electric bike has been

perfect for simulating the real cross country experience

designed and built

so that you can set up a course at home, either in arenas

for those in the

or on grass. These jumps are a great way to develop your

equestrian industry.

skills, from riding through the gears, riding forwards and

Use it for training,

practising control into fences, through to putting your

following riders out

horse to the test over more complicated questions that

on a hack, travelling

will aid you in the

back and forth at the

competitive season.

yard, and when you’re

One of the most popular

at an event and want

fences, both for training

to check the course.

and in competition,

“I absolutely love my

is Jump 4 Joy’s new

Eco Voltz Eventer. It

chase brush, which

is really fun to ride

develops straightness,

and makes it so much

pace and accuracy

easier to fit everything into the day when I can save time

while encouraging

by whizzing around on battery power! I love the concept

young horses and

that Eco Voltz has turned into a reality and couldn’t

boosting their

recommend it more.”


Gemma Tattersall, rider

n Jump 4 Joy.


84 Summer 2021 n


S P E C I A L I S I N G I N 3 . 5 T 4 . 0 T 4 . 5 T 7. 5 T A L L H G V S

T E L 012 7 0 5 8 8 5 9 8 • C O O K E C O A C H B U I L D E R S . C O M •

My BE life

Champion event rider and jockey Saffie Osborne shares her favourite memories, toughest moments and how she’s fitter and stronger than ever after last year’s fall My first riding memory

My favourite eventing memory Winning The Pony European

I grew up surrounded by

Championships was incredible. Being

racehorses and ponies,

at Bishop Burton with my family and

so I was on a pony before

Little Indian Feather’s owners, Lord and

I could walk. My brother

Lady Blyth, made it really special. It was

and I would go around

my last event on ponies and she really

the village on our ponies,

meant so much to so many people,

jumping anything we

especially my family, so it was a fairy-tale

could find.

ending to her story, from rescue pony to European champion.

My toughest moment I had a bad fall racing at Windsor in October 2020 and broke my arm, dislocated my elbow and wrist, broke several ribs and punctured my lung, as well as being knocked unconscious. I went from not having a spare minute to not being able to get out of bed without help. I was in Oaksey House (Injured Jockeys Fund) for five days a week from November. Their care was unbelievable and I’m now fitter and stronger than ever.

My plans for the future PHOTOS: ANNA FRANKLIN

My main aim is challenging for the Apprentice Jockeys

My best achievement

Championship this year.

Winning five European

Young Rider European

Youth Championship medals.

Championships, as well

My focus for Archie (Lakantus) is to be selected for the

as stepping up to 4* level.

86 Summer 2021 n

Designed in partnership with British Eventing Performance Coaches


New Shoulder Brush Corner Jump Now Available Building on the success of our bestselling Shoulder Brush fence, the new double shoulder brush corner jump takes jumping corners to a whole new level. Perfect for developing accuracy and improving straightness, this top quality fence is the perfect training tool for horse and rider. Order yours today! Available on our website or call us to place your order.

Shoulder Brush Corner Jump • 2x Shoulder Brush • 2x Jump Stands • 1x Corner Telescopic Stand (75cm to 105cm) • 3x Safety Cups • 3x Cross Country Flags (with clips). Height is adjustable at 5cm increments using the telescopic stands. 01386 793339

Unit 2, Knowle Fields Industrial Estate, Inkberrow, Worcestershire, WR7 4HR


British Equestrian Team Supplier

British Equestrian Team Supplier

Victory LV 4500kg No tachograph | No speed limiter | No plating, MOT after 3 years Fully collapsible High impact breast bar High impact composite panelspanels composite

Aluminium planked flooring Low and inviting side side Low and inviting ramp with doors doors rampsafety with safety

High impact composite panels Fully collapsible Fully collapsible breastbreast bar bar

Fully collapsible breast bar

Low and inviting side ramp with safety doors Aluminium planked Aluminium planked flooring flooring

Aluminium planked flooring


+ VAT including brand new chassis

36 month hire for just £700 inc vat PCM, plus £3,900 inc vat initial rental

“I own the Victory Excel and I love it so much. I event with my pony and travel up and down the country so the overnight accommodation is vital for a comfortable night’s sleep and to relax and prepare meals.” Isabella Morgan

0114 288 4411 • • Victory *Quotation based on a cash price of £50,018.80 OTR, less a deposit of £15,755.80 leaving a balance to finance of £34,263.00 over 120 months at £399 per month, with an Option to Purchase Fee of £10.00 collected with the final payment. APR 7.3%. All figures are subject to credit approval with the rates being quoted being subject to revision should there be any change in prevailing interest rates or existing monetary conditions. Financial information may be required for credit assessment. This is an indication of terms provided for discussion purposes only. It shall have no contractual effect and is not binding upon you or us. E&OE. Equi-Trek Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Please see our website for full terms and conditions. Vehicle shown may have optional extras not included at advertised price. Victory LV *Quotation based on 36 month hire. Extra costs are insurance, fuel and RFL. Hire-Trek pays for servicing/MOT, warranty and breakdown cover/horse recovery, T&C’s apply. Please contact Hire-Trek for full terms and conditions.

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