Tag Archives: dressage

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Competition Schedule for 2021 Confirmed

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) has confirmed the Paralympic Games Competition Schedule for 2021. For Para Dressage, the competition dates have been moved forward by one day so as to mirror the 2020 daily schedule. The Para Dressage events which were due to start on Thursday 27 August 2020 and finish on Saturday 29 August 2020 will now run from Thursday 26 August 2021 to Monday 30 August 2021. There are also some minor modifications to the starting times.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic equestrian timetable for 2021 can be viewed here on the FEI’s Paralympic hub.

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

International Pony Club Dressage Comes to Virtual Windsor

The Pony Club’s new virtual dressage competition is to be launched as part of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020. The competition will take pride of place on the Sunday of the online Show, which will be live-streamed from 25-27 September 2020.

Based on The Pony Club Home International Dressage which takes place annually at Royal Windsor Horse Show, the competition has been redesigned for a virtual platform. Teams of four will represent England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland in a first‐of‐its‐kind competition, with each team containing one Novice, one Intermediate, and two Open riders. Any current Pony Club member who fulfils the minimum requirements may enter a video to the Qualifying Competition, of which the highest scores in each country will form the teams. All entries to the Qualifying Competition will be judged and placed, with rosettes to 10th.

The highest placed riders from each country, in each section, will then go forward to film their Home International test. All tests will be judged by a panel of three British Dressage listed judges, one of whom will be completely independent of The Pony Club. The tests and results will be live-streamed as one programme as part of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020, on Sunday 27 September.

Marcus Capel, CEO of The Pony Club, said, “It is so exciting to have the opportunity to stage our Pony Club Home International Dressage virtually this year. The competition is usually a chance for riders to compete against the backdrop of Windsor Castle so, despite the disappointments that Covid‐19 has brought to 2020, our members will be able to ride at the virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show and to compete in this challenge online.”

Royal Windsor’s Show Director, Simon Brooks‐Ward, said, “We are delighted to be able to announce that The Pony Club Home International Dressage will take place on the Sunday of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020. The Pony Club is a stepping-stone for so many talented young riders, and during these times it is adapting and overcoming to continue providing education, inspiration, and competition to young riders all over the country. I look forward to seeing the high standard of equestrianism The Pony Club always produces.”

The Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 will run from 25-27 September 2020 with the show itself taking place as a free‐to‐view live-stream available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Virtual Windsor website across the Show Weekend.

VIRTUAL WINDSOR 2020 can be found at https://virtual.rwhs.co.uk/.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Riding for the Disabled Association Dressage – A New Virtual Windsor Discipline

The Virtual Windsor Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Dressage Challenge will take place for the first time during the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020, streamed live from 25-27 September. The class, for which competitors will film their dressage tests at home and submit them online, gives riders the opportunity to get back to competition while remaining socially distanced.

Run in accordance with RDA rules, the Virtual Windsor RDA Dressage Challenge, supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, will be free to enter and open to all Classified riders. Judged as one championship section, competitors will select the appropriate test for their grade from a choice of eight (Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Intellectual Disability Walk Only, Intellectual Disability Walk & Trot, and Intellectual Disability Canter) and submit a video. The tests will then be judged, with the best scores across all tests taking the top places. Judging the competition will be RDA Dressage Lead and Judge John Robinson, who is also a BD List 2A and FEI 4* Para Dressage Judge.

The Virtual Windsor RDA Dressage Challenge will be broadcast as the highlight of the Virtual Windsor livestream on Friday 25 September, during which the finalists’ rounds will be played and the winners announced. The livestream, which will be available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Virtual Windsor website, is free to watch and will remain online to enjoy after the event.

Ed Bracher, Chief Executive of RDA UK, said, “I am delighted that the Virtual Windsor RDA Dressage Challenge will be part of Virtual Windsor’s Autumn Series. With so many competitions having been cancelled, this is a great chance for classified riders – whether they are part of RDA or not – to compete nationally. We are grateful to the organisers for including an RDA class and look forward to this becoming a regular fixture in the Virtual Windsor Series.”

Virtual Windsor’s Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said, “We are delighted to announce that RDA Dressage will be one of the disciplines we host as part of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series, alongside Online Showing, Equitation Jumping, and the Pony Club Home International Dressage. While 2020 has been a challenging year, with the Virtual Windsor Series we have embraced the opportunity to provide accessible, high-level competition in a format available to all. The standard of competition at the inaugural Virtual Windsor was extremely high, so we are expecting great things from the Autumn and Winter Series.”

The Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 will run from 25-27 September 2020, with entries opening on Friday 14 August and closing on Friday 4 September, and the Show itself taking place as a free‐to-view livestream available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Virtual Windsor website across the Show Weekend.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Werth & von Bredow-Werndl Pick Up CDI Wins in First Euro Competitions Post Covid Shutdown

Isabell Werth and Emilio. Photo by Michael Rzepa.

Mariakalnok, Hungary – July 9, 2020 – As the world begins to emerge from a global shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the international dressage community has slowly returned to the show ring with four FEI-sanctioned events. Taking place in Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Belgium, riders rode down the centerline in much smaller and socially distanced competitions.

During the last week of June, the first World Cup qualifying competition post-Coronavirus took place in Mariakalnok, Hungary with 14 entries in the CDI-W Grand Prix. Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl claimed the top prize with a 77.892% on Zaire-E. The third-place finishers at the 2019 FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden and von Bredow-Werndl’s German A-Squad team member, Helen Langehanenberg and Leatherdale Farm’s Damsey FRH, followed closely behind, placing second with a 76.022%.

In the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, von Bredow-Werndl remained on top of the leaderboard on the 16-year-old KWPN mare with an 84.89%. Hot on her heels, Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH received an 83.865% from the judging panel in their freestyle performance.

At the CDI4* in Achleiten, Austria, six-time Olympic gold medalist Isabell Werth returned to her dominating fashion, picking up four wins out of her four starts in the competition. The competition kicked off July 3 with Werth breaking the show grounds record, earning a 79.5% on Emilio in the CDI4* Grand Prix for the Freestyle and later in the weekend they won the Freestyle with an impressive 86.2%. On Victoria Max-Theurer’s Quantaz, Werth picked up the win in the CDI4* Grand Prix for the Special with a 78.152% as well as earning a personal best of 80.149% in the Grand Prix Special.

“That was a very satisfying start after a longer break from competition,” Werth said. “Dressage shows are very important to stay in the competition rhythm. You need to take stock – especially when you compete with new horses.

“I am very pleased — both horses performed well. For Quantaz it was the first competition in a long time and I was over 80 percent for the first time today. We can still improve a few things, but the basics were perfect. It was a really good test,” Werth said, praising the 10-year-old Brandenburg stallion.

Quantaz’s owner, Victoria Max-Theurer, also had a successful show herself on two of her mounts, racking up multiple second place finishes behind her mentor Werth. In the CDI4* Grand Prix for the Freestyle, she had a great test back from the long pandemic break, earning a 73.565% on her 10-year-old stallion Rockabilly before going on to receive an 81.225% in his debut of his rock-themed Grand Prix Freestyle.

“You don’t get over 80 percent every day! Above all, this freestyle was a premiere for Rocky and me,” Max-Theurer said. “We practiced individual lines but we didn’t have the chance to rehearse the freestyle because we were fully focused on the Grand Prix during our preparation. Our last show was the World Cup in Salzburg in December – that was seven months ago.”

A new horse for her, Abegglen FH NRW, placed second in the CDI4* Grand Prix for the Special with a 76.457% and improved in his Grand Prix Special debut with a score of 77.702%.

“I would like to thank my team, my family, and Isabell Werth, who supports me so incredibly. Daddy would be proud of us,” said the 34-year-old Upper Austrian, whose father and coach Hans Max-Theurer died unexpectedly last year. “It was a great feeling riding the first Special with Abby. I am really happy with this test. Now we have to keep working on the set-up and improve from test to test and from show to show to gain even more confidence. It’s a great challenge to get back into the show rhythm after such a long break.”

After the successful first attempt of a much smaller show under corona restrictions, the manager of the CDI4* in Achleiten, Austria, Elisabeth Max-Theurer, was cautiously optimistic.

“Our safety concept worked; the individual teams did not mingle with each other and paid attention to the distance and hygiene regulations,” Max-Theurer explained. “This is really gratifying and I think that already at the second show at the end of July we will be able to invite about 30 to maybe even 40 riders instead of 15 as well as about 50 horses without endangering anybody. However, we do not know how the pandemic will develop. The most important thing is that everyone stays healthy.”

PS Dressage
www.psdressage.com

Creating the Channel of Energy, by Ruth Hogan Poulsen Dressage

Photo: Sue Weakley.

In Program Your Position, a program released in collaboration with Jane Savoie, we use key buzzwords to trigger the brain to become more self-aware while riding. We talk about the energy you create in your horse from your legs, and then how and where to channel or recycle the energy with your seat and reins.

The original Program Your Position drawing (above) shows how your aligned and square torso (head, shoulders, knees, and toes) should aim like laser beams to direct the energy of the horse (isn’t that a song?).

For example, let’s talk about shoulder-in. The shoulder-in is a lateral movement that is the foundation of all lateral work. Shoulder-in is performed on three tracks and has bend and flexion around the inside leg. The shoulders are displaced to the inside over the inside hind leg. The outer shoulder and fore leg should be placed over the inside hind leg to create three tracks. The hind legs in a shoulder-in should maintain their straight forward position along the original path.

OK. So how do we do THAT? Your shoulders and reins control the direction of your horse’s shoulders. Your hips and legs control the hips and hindquarters of the horse.

For this article, we are only going to talk about the rein aids, as I am using the shoulder-in as my example for the “laser” or “butt end of the whip” directions.

Your hands for a shoulder-in to the right:

  • Keep both hands low and equidistant from your body as you move them to the right.
  • Move them to the right enough to place the outside front leg in front of the inside hind leg.
  • Use your inside rein as an opening rein.
  • Bring your outside hand very close to the withers, but never let that hand cross over the withers.

The direction of the butt end of the whip is heading in the same direction as your arm and horse’s energy. So, if your whips are crossed, then there is an X or blocking of energy at that point. If you only point one whip where you want to go, the horse will fall out the other side.

Wellington Classic Dressage in the Tropics I & II

July 25-26, 2020

Level Three Competition

TWO GREAT AMERICAN/ USDF QUALIFYING COMPETITIONS

2020 USEF Qualifying Competition for the 2020 USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship; 2020 Children Dressage National Championships; 2020 USEF Junior &Young Rider Dressage National Championships; 2020 USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship

Official Qualifying Competition for the 2020 Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage Championships (Five, Six, and Seven Year Olds); Official Qualifying Competition for the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses (Five, Six & Seven Year Olds)

2020 Great American/USDF Regional Championships

Hosted At: Palm Beach Equine Clinic
13125 South Wellington FL 33414

JUDGES: Lilo Fore (S); Charlotte Trentleman (S)

Tropics I USEF No. 327592/ Tropics II USEF No. 327593 ; WCD USEF Licensee No. 4894786

Official prize list posted at: www.wellingtonclassicdressage.com.

Virtual Windsor Returns for Autumn and Winter Online Horse Show Series

Following the success of Virtual Windsor in May, the organisers of Royal Windsor Horse Show are delighted to announce that the online Show will be returning as a new series with two editions taking place in the Autumn and Winter. The Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 will be live-streamed on 25-27 September, and will feature three disciplines in which riders from all over the world can participate from their own homes.

The Show will comprise 22 Showing classes, alongside new additions in the form of International Pony Club Dressage, a Riding for the Disabled Association class and a specially designed ‘Equitation Jumping’ discipline open to all. In addition, the popular shopping section will be bringing visitors new products and offers, and there will be yard tours and masterclasses with first-class riders.

THE PONY CLUB HOME INTERNATIONAL DRESSAGE

Leading the charge for Virtual Windsor in September will be the Pony Club Home International Dressage, featuring teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. Previously held at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the competition pits up-and-coming riders against each other, and this year will be made even more special with live judging and commentary for the audience to enjoy.

The Pony Club Home International Dressage will be a precursor to a worldwide International Dressage competition, to feature in the Virtual Windsor Winter Series later in the year, where teams from all 18 Pony Club countries will be invited to compete in a never-seen-before worldwide Pony Club event.

Marcus Capel, Pony Club Chief Executive, said: “We are hugely pleased to be able to run our Home International Dressage competition on the Virtual Windsor platform this year. The competition highlights the hard work and talent of our young riders, and we hope that by holding it online we will enable many young riders to enjoy and be inspired by the competition from their own homes.”

VIRTUAL SHOWING CLASSES RETURN

Virtual Windsor’s Showing Series returns to your screens, with Chief Judge Nigel Hollings back by popular demand. The May edition of Virtual Windsor saw over 4,000 entries to the Showing coming from as far afield as South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, included both amateur and professional riders and even Her Majesty The Queen. The Virtual Windsor Autumn Series in September will showcase 26 Showing classes, covering everything from Riding Horses and Hunters, to Show Ponies and Side Saddle, while the Winter Series – planned for later in the year – will have an international flavour including horse breeds from around the world such as Quarter Horses, Iberian Breeds, and Arabians. The classes remain free to enter for all.

Nigel Hollings will be joined on the judging panel for the Autumn Series by Julian White, Anne Leaver, and Pat Pattinson. “I am delighted to be returning as Virtual Windsor’s Chief Judge this September, having hugely enjoyed the May Show,” said Hollings. “The standard of entries was incredibly high at the last event and I really enjoy the Virtual format which gives me the opportunity to share feedback with the audience as I judge. I was particularly impressed with the number of international entries in the May edition. To be a winner at Virtual Windsor against entries from all over the world, you really do have to be the best.”

SHOW JUMPING MAKES ITS DEBUT

In addition to International Dressage and Showing, the organisers of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 have created a jumping discipline which allows riders from across the globe to compete. Based on Prix Caprilli, Equitation Jumping requires competitors to submit a video showing a short set test, which includes three fences of any kind with one stride between each at any height. Marks are awarded for the rider’s position, use of aids, and straightness and the technique, shape, and impulsion of the horse. Designed to be accessible to all levels of equestrian, the class is open to all and will have a Championship taking place on the Sunday of the Show.

The competition will be judged by professional judge, show jumper, and event rider Julian White, who said, “During these difficult times that we’re all facing I’ve just had the most amazing ray of light shone onto me by being asked to be a judge on the Virtual Windsor Horse Show Series which is just brilliant, I’m so excited. It is a real honour to be asked and I am looking forward to it hugely. So thank you so much, and I’m judging with Nigel Hollings who I was meant to be judging with in South Africa, so that’s also a joy and a double whammy!”

FURTHER ADDITIONS ADDED TO THE LINE-UP

In addition to the competition, a Masterclass will be streamed on each day of the three days of the Show, featuring world-class riders from around the world. Covering topics from Grand Prix Dressage to training tips, riding international courses and the thrills of top competition, the Masterclasses will be available to all through the live stream.

It has been a tough year for many exhibitors, and Virtual Windsor will continue to support tradestands and shops through its Virtual Shopping Village, where visitors will find a full list of shops selling everything equestrian, plus some “Show Week” discounts.

Royal Windsor’s Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said of Virtual Windsor: “We were so thrilled by the response to the first Virtual Windsor that it wasn’t a difficult decision to build a series of events.  Although 2020 has been a challenging year, Virtual Windsor has shown us that the equestrian community has a really positive outlook and will come together to enjoy competition and celebrate equestrianism. I cannot wait to see how the Series fares and to welcome all the international competitors and visitors to the event.”

The Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 will run from 25-27 September 2020, with entries for Showing and Equitation Jumping opening in August and closing in early September. Schedules and rules for each class will be available at virtual.rwhs.co.uk from Friday 10 July.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

FEI Joins Forces with Black Horse One and SAP to Create Online Dressage Training Platform

The FEI has launched the FEI eDressage™ Online platform in partnership with Black Horse One (BHO) and SAP, to provide a unique environment for FEI registered Dressage and Para Dressage athletes to boost their training and development.

FEI registered athletes can upload videos to the FEI eDressage™ Online platform every week for their FEI Dressage tests to be judged anonymously by a pool of FEI 5* level Dressage and Para Dressage judges. In the first phase, a number of videos will be randomly selected and athletes will then be provided with feedback on their performance and given pointers for improvement.

“This new platform is yet another example of the ways in which technology can be introduced into equestrian sport to transform training techniques,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus said.

“Athletes now have the opportunity to have their tests remotely evaluated by a group of top level judges and to receive key insights that could benefit their performances.

“While the current pandemic highlights the value of a platform like this to athlete training when travel and competition restrictions exist, it can also be particularly useful to athletes residing in remote regions of the world, who would otherwise be unable to avail of the international expertise provided through this platform.”

Although the platform has been designed primarily with the horse and athlete in mind, it has the potential to become a valuable source of content for training FEI Officials in close collaboration with the FEI’s online e-learning platform, FEI Campus. The user-generated content would allow the FEI to improve the video material used in training programmes for FEI Dressage and Para Dressage judges.

The FEI eDressage™ Online platform is not the first time software development company Black Horse One, and the market leader in enterprise application software SAP, have come together with the FEI to create unique technological solutions for the sport.

While previous initiatives have been created to enrich the competition experience for live audiences and judges, the FEI eDressage™ Online platform has been specifically created for a non-competitive environment. Tests will not be judged and no rankings will be provided, but performances will be critiqued by an elite group of judges purely for training purposes.

“It is an absolute pleasure for us to launch the FEI eDressage Online platform together with the FEI and SAP, our close partner for many years now,” CEO of Black Horse One Daniel Göhlen said.

“We at Black Horse One provide innovative, high-performance software solutions specialised in equestrian sports and see this new platform as a fantastic technological development to support athletes all over the world, especially during these current uncertain times. The FEI eDressage Online platform is built on the basis of our paperless judging solution eDressage and benefits from several of our other innovations which have been supported by SAP and established by the FEI.”

SAP Director of Strategic Partnerships in Equestrian, Henrike Paetz, also welcomed the initiative. “The launch of the new FEI eDressage Online platform is another milestone in our partnership with the FEI and long-standing cooperation with Black Horse One,” she said.

“Providing a virtual training and feedback environment for international athletes is an innovative way to stay connected and up-to-speed during these challenging times and beyond and reflects our ambition as the Official Analytics Sponsor of the FEI Dressage World Cup series. We are proud to once more help reinvent the athlete experience based on our SAP Cloud Platform technology.”

Previously, the two companies combined their expert knowledge in technology and fan engagement to create the award-winning Spectator Judging® app in 2017.

The app enables audiences at FEI Dressage World Cup™ events to get into the judge’s seat, with audience scores and rankings created in real-time during the competitions and then placed side-by-side with official results on the arena scoreboards. It’s a dynamic way for live audiences to participate more actively in the sporting action provided by the world’s top Dressage athletes and their horses.

A further collaboration between SAP and Black Horse One in 2018 led to the development of the Dressage Paperless Judging software, a system allowing FEI Dressage and Para Dressage competitions to be scored without a scribe having to write down each mark on an FEI Dressage score sheet. The Paperless Judging system was designed to deliver finished and signed scores and comments to athletes immediately after each test, and also maintain fan engagement by reducing the time between the end of a competition and the awards ceremony.

“The beauty of the FEI eDressage Online platform is that it has the potential to grow and develop over time and become something larger than we initially imagined,” FEI Director Information & Sports Technology Gaspard Dufour explained. “For developments like these to really impact a sport, it is necessary that our technological partners understand equestrian and the needs of our stakeholders. Long-term collaborations like ours show that having the time to grow and develop together can impact the industry in a meaningful way.”

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director, Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Dressage4Kids Tips, by Lendon Gray

Here is a simple exercise for everyone as long as you have started asking your horse for simple bends (including those doing Grand Prix).  At all gaits and with no fuss, using an easy inside rein that does NOT go toward the horse’s withers (an indirect rein), can you bend him a little left for four or five strides and then within one stride bend him a little right for four or five strides? He doesn’t turn because your inside leg prevents that. You should be able to do this ANYTIME – walking along the track, doing a leg yield or a half pass, or a canter pirouette. This should be easy and it is NOT wagging the head, but just a simple change of bend of the neck.

Dressage4Kids | graydressage@gmail.com | https://dressage4kids.org

Princes, Prima Donnas, and Proving Carl Wrong

(L to R) Nip Tuck, groom Alan Davies, and Carl Hester. (FEI/Cara Grimshaw)

On his debut as a roving reporter, Shetland social media influencer Beachboy Jasper visits Carl Hester’s yard in Gloucestershire, England where he gets the lowdown on some of the inmates. His timing isn’t perfect because the big names have just gone hacking in the morning sunshine. But Bella the Broodmare is at home, and she’s more than pleased to show him around and spill the beans about some of the most popular personalities in the sport of Dressage….

“Don’t worry about the dogs,” says Bella, as I’m surrounded by at least a dozen of them jumping and barking with excitement. I’m not bothered because when you’re handsome, debonair, and sophisticated then being the centre of attention is all in a day’s work. But I get a bit of a fright when a flock of ferocious two-legged things come thundering towards me, led by a colossal beast with its tail-feathers fanned out and shrieking at the top of its head.

“Don’t worry about that lot either – it’s just peacocks and chickens and ducks and guinea fowl. There are so many attention-seekers around this place – it’s mad, to be honest!” Bella says with a giggle.

I compose myself as best I can while keeping a beady eye on the peacock that seems to be stalking me, and ask what life has been like over the last few months while most of us ponies and horses have had nowhere to go with competitions called off because of the people-virus? “Well Carlos Santana has been fussing about managing the finances and running the yard – all that ‘I’ve got staff and I’m responsible for so many people’ stuff y’know? But I reckon he’s enjoyed every minute of it. Anyway, he’s back teaching again this week so that’s keeping him quiet,” she explains.

It’s a lovely yard, and I peek over the door of the stable normally occupied by Valegro who, I’m told, is nearly as good a mover as myself. He’s won a few shiny things and people make a lot of fuss of him. At home he’s called Blueberry, so what is he like?

“A gentleman to his tippy-toes,” she says. “He never made a fuss about all the big wins he had, never bowed to the pressure or changed his personality; he’s always stayed humble, always helpful, and extremely happy to see everybody. He loves a good cuddle, especially from children. But boy [I knew there had to be a weak spot], does he like his grub!”

I’m admiring him even more now, sounds like my kind of chap. “Even the year he went to the Olympic Games in London (2012) and won double-gold, he couldn’t control his appetite.

“You’ve never seen anything like it; there’s nothing he doesn’t eat. He goes on and on about his diet and controlling his waistline, but he just can’t seem to stop himself!”

Bella can’t seem to stop herself either, now that she’s on a roll she wants to dish all the dirt. “Y’know, there are days when this nice lady called Tricia Gardiner comes to hack him out and the pair of them are gone for hours. Not because he’s doing any real work. No, it’s just that she’s not strong enough to hold him when he drags her into every hedgerow along the way so he can nibble the nice pickings. He comes back munching bits of twigs and sticks and branches and looking very pleased with himself every time – he’s unreal!”

Not what I was expecting to hear about the horse who has set more world records than most of us have had bran mashes, but you can tell that Bella really admires him. “Charlotte (Dujardin) rode him beautifully, and I think he was always grateful that Carl was there to help her handle the pressure at the big events. He achieved so much, and we’re all very proud of him here – Blueberry is a prince!” she insists.

However, she doesn’t feel quite the same about Mount St John Freestyle, the mare, also ridden by Charlotte, who brought home two medals from the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) 2018 in Tryon, USA and who won the FEI Dressage World Cup™ qualifier at London Olympia (GBR) last season.

“Now there’s a bossy one,” says Bella with a bit of a growl. “She’s a right prima donna; it’s all about her; she wants everything and she wants it ‘now!’ She wants to be fed before everyone else, she wants to come in from the field when she wants to come in – not two minutes later, she only wants to go out if it’s nice and sunny because she doesn’t want to get wet or have a hair out of place even if it’s only slightly windy or rainy. She’s a bit annoying, if you ask me.…

“At least now she’s learned that she does actually have to do a day’s work. And OK, she’s good at it, but she’s been building up a bit of a fan-club and that’s just making her fancy herself even more. She’s a right one, I’m telling you!”

So I move on to ask about Nip Tuck, who I’ve heard is a bit of a character. “We call him Barney and, to be honest, he’s a head-case but a very sweet one. He’s part of the gang that go out in the field at night-time. There are 18 horses here and only eight live out at night… the ‘normal’ ones go out during the day and the daft ones at night so they can run the Grand National if they like, but at least they have their brains in their heads when it comes to working the following morning.”

It seems Bella has a big soft spot for Barney. “He’s hysterical; he’s tipped Carl off a good few times because he’s scared of his own shadow. He’s a big fellow and should be brave as a lion but instead he’s really spooky and scared of a mouse! I remember him telling me how he fell on Carl when he got a huge fright because a waiter dropped a tray as he was passing by at a show (at Aachen, Germany European Championships in 2015), but sure he’s done that here at home too. They were going out the gate at the end of the avenue one day and something scared him, and he went into reverse and knocked down the gate-pillars – mad stuff! And Carl came home from the Olympics in Rio (2016) with whiplash because he spun around during a test for no real reason at all – Barney couldn’t even explain it himself afterwards!”

But he took team silver at those Europeans in Aachen, and again at the WEG in Caen in 2014 and in Rio in 2016, so how did Barney manage to do all that if he’s such a scaredy-cat? “I think it’s because there were no big expectations of him. Carl used to say, ‘Barney will never do this, he’ll never do that, he’ll never be a championship horse, he’ll never do a Grand Prix, he’ll never get around that ring in Olympia.’ But he did all of those things because he tried really hard. He even won at Olympia which he says is the scariest arena in the world because the spectators are almost sitting on top of you. And he did it not once, but twice. In the end I reckon he did it all because he really enjoyed proving Carl wrong!” Bella says.

All this talk about working so hard is a bit exhausting. I ask the mare if it’s been boring having to #stayhome and not do very much over the last few months. “No, quite the opposite; we all had a really nice time, lots of freedom, lovely grass, sunny weather, sunbathing all day – it’s been dreamy actually,” she explains. So how is everyone feeling about getting back to work now that things are slowly starting again?

“Well we’ve got two completely different attitudes here. Charlotte is preparing like the Olympic Games might suddenly and miraculously come back to life this year even though we know they won’t be happening until next summer. She’s off to Hickstead in a few weeks for something called the Rotterdam Hickstead online challenge and she can’t wait.

“But Carl? Well he has no intention of putting himself under pressure until he absolutely has to. Charlotte doesn’t call him ‘Grandad’ for nothing you know….”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46