Written by Arabella Clegg
1. After such a fantastic season, can you pull out a couple of the highlights?
“It all seems so long ago now, but Le Lion was the biggest excitement. With Monkeying Around winning the world young horse class for six year olds. I went there hoping for him to finish in the top three as I knew he was capable of doing at least that. We all know Le Lion for having a huge atmosphere in all the phases, so it’s a big ask going there for these young horses”.
As well as winning, Izzy finished second in the seven year old world championships aboard Direct Cassino.
“This was a bit of a surprise as the show jumping phase has been a bit patchy for this horse, but the work we’ve done with him has paid off, it’s extremely exciting to have two seriously talented young horses on the yard”.
2. What or which internationals do you really thrive to be at?
“I love Bramham. Ian Stark builds a very decent cross country, there have been times where it has definitely felt more like a three and a half star track, therefore you can get a real feel of what kind of a horse you are sat on. It’s a very friendly event with a championship feel, the owners love it too. Another favourite is Burghley, one reason being that it is just before the kids go back to school, they don’t particularly enjoy coming to the one day events as they are a bit boring so it’s great to have them at Burghley. The ERM (Event Rider Masters) has been a revelation for the sport. I am very lucky to have a horse like Be Touchable for the series. The invention has created something British Eventing hasn’t seen before, with the pressure of prize money and prestige to win the series”.
3. What challenges have you faced this season?
“All the usual ones you get from just doing what we do with horses and being a rider. Trying to get the horses to peak at the right time as well as keeping them fit and sound.
Having the two children is a whole other challenge when juggling full time eventing and hunting. For example getting them to school with the right things on the right day.
I’m always challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday or at my last competition and to work harder”.
4. How do you maintain your horses health/fitness?
“It varies massively from discipline and age of the horse, they are all individuals but one of the vitally important parts of each of the horses day is being fed steamed hay and haylage. This helps their respiratory system massively and I also believe they should be turned out as much as possible to be as natural as they can be. I’ve had great success with the haygain nebuliser, especially with one horse I was concerned was going to miss an important competition due to suffering from an allergy to rape. We were unable to work the horse hard enough for a while but with the help of the nebuliser we got him back on track in time and it was so beneficial”.
5. What is a typical day like in the life of a horse on your yard;
“They get their forage at 7am and fed at 8am. After this they will either be hacked by one of the girls or schooled/jumped by me. It really depends on what they have coming up as to what they do each day. We skip them out at lunch time, before hopefully turning them out. At this time of the year they will go out every third day to save the fields, unless they are extremely fresh. In the summer they are out almost all of the time. Evening stables usually happen around 4-5.30pm and a final check at 9pm."
6. What are the winter plans?
“Mainly hunting, especially on the younger horses. While the older horses depending on their level will have a holiday for about a month. I really believe they should have 4 weeks of being a horse, they come in feeling well for it. Then before we know it, the fitness work and jumping begins in preparation for those first few events in March.
7. How do you keep yourself fit?
“Lots of riding! Recently I have become a lot more body aware. This is so that I can keep going for longer. I’m working on strengthening my core, a friend has set me up a pilates programme”.
8. What are the main aims for 2018?
“Firstly it has to be getting a horse to the world equestrian games. I was extremely disappointed not to be at the Europeans this year. It’s a case of ticking all the boxes at all the relevant big events and three day competitions. Monkeying Around will hopefully go back to Le Lion to contest the seven year old championships while Direct Cassino will step up to three star”.
9. How does family life fit around the horses?
“Both the kids, Lily who is now 8 and Freddie whose 7 have been absolutely fantastic from the word go. They don’t get any special treatment, they are just pretty grown up. Lily is a book worm and Freddie is in to Rugby, they both ride a bit but they aren’t like how I was at their age, with the ponies at every given hour. They are delighted with the current snow we have and can’t understand why I am frustrated by it! To help with everything I am so fortunate to have amazing support from close friends and family”.
10. What got you in to horses?
“I can’t remember not riding. At the age of four I was doing the pony club hunter trials, I have always been competitive. I did complete my A-levels and got a place at university, of which I deferred for a year. I knew I was never going to take up the place but it kept my parents and teachers off my back about it for a while. I went to Hartpury and rode the Welton horses. After that chapter I worked in Holland in a show jumping yard, I had a fall where I broke a few vertebrae. At this point my father said it was time to get a real job.
My theory is that when people are asked at a young age ‘What do you want to do when you are older’? And there answer is usually that they want to be a professional footballer or racing driver etc. Not many people get to do it. I am extremely fortunate and I’m in a small percentage of people who are doing what they dreamed about years ago, therefore I am willing to work harder every day to continue this”.
11. If you could sit on any horse from any discipline, past or present who would it be?
12. What would be top of your Christmas list?
A magic machine to mend horse’s injuries in 24 hours.