Category Archives: Horse Scout Advocate

Olympia Horse Show

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Written by Ellie Kelly Horse Scout press

The greatest exhibition of horsemanship: Olympia Horse Show

Horses, champagne and shopping are three of my favourite things. It’s always a heady cocktail of all that with an extra helping of festive fever at The London International Horse Show. Did you know it remains the UK’s largest indoor horse show and around 3000 bottles of champagne are drunk each year?

Olympia always attracts leading riders but this year, the line-up is nothing short of orgasmic. SEVEN of the world’s top ten showjumpers, some of the GREATEST dressage riders of all time plus the current Driving WORLD CHAMPION. Then throw in some damn fine looking Chilean men doing crazy things on horseback and throng of flat and jump jockeys, most of whom are the most FAMOUS on the planet.

Christmas Jumpers

With more talent than your Aunt Roberta’s knitting skills, this year’s jumping entries will raise the roof. The British line-up includes Scott Brash, Ben Maher, leading British lady, Laura Renwick as well as John and Michael Whitaker who have almost a century’s worth of experience between them (ouch).

European challengers include former World No 1 Simon Delestre, current World No 3 and recent winner of the  Rolex IJRC Final, Kevin Staut, FEI World Cup winner Steve Guerdat, Olympic silver medallist Peder Fredricson and the effervescent Lorenzo de Luca who is always a favourite with the crowds.

Perfect piaffes and how to produce the next Valegro

Olympia would not be the same without indulging in the nations love affair with Carl and Charlotte. The pair have practically owned the place with their performances for years now. Whilst neither are competing in the FEI World Cup classes, they will be inspiring and motivating us with a Masterclass on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday Carl will be entertaining and educating on the process of making a Grand Prix horse with Charlotte as his guinea pig and at times the brunt of his wicked humour. It’s hot gossip that Charlotte will be bringing her FEI World Equestrian Games hopeful, Mount St John Freestyle for her Masterclass on Tuesday.

The FEI World Cup London leg is as hotly contested as ever. There is Patrick Kittel, Swedish Olympian and leader of the Western League, Dutch maestro, Edward Gal and the home team includes Hayley Watson-Greaves, Emile Faurie, Richard Davison, Gareth Hughes and Lara Butler.

Doing it for charity

The Markel Champions Challenge is all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF). A cause close to most jockey’s hearts and some incredible jockeys go tête-à-tête in a relay show-jumping competition.

20-time Champion Jockey, Sir A P McCoy is coming out of retirement to lead the jump jockeys, in battle against the Flat jockeys led by none other than Frankie Dettori.  AP is not a man to rest on his laurels. “Last year, I watched from the side lines as my fellow jump jockeys got thrashed by Dettori’s boys. So this year I shall be picking my own team and shall be looking to the greats of the past to help me do this. Whilst we’ll be ultra-competitive, it’s all for such a great cause in the Injured Jockeys Fund.”

We all scream for Ex-treme

Hold your horses because once again, Olympia hosts three Driving competitions which has attracted some of the world’s best four-in-hand drivers. Thursday’s “Extreme Driving Top score” will warm up both the drivers and the spectators for the following two legs of the FEI World Cup.

As well as popular Ozzie and World champ Boyd Exell, British driver Dan Naprous will be staking a claim as will the most experienced and multi-medalled of any driver, Ijsbrand Chardon who has been at the top of the sport since the 80s.

 

All I want for Christmas…

Is an Animo show jacket, a Butet saddle and a Liberty Kelly poncho. With 225 shops embracing cutting edge fashion, bargain rugs and unique gifts, this place comes with a warning. Especially if you are anything like us and have hit the champagne bar beforehand. #shopresponsibly #tattinger

 

The Horse Scout Team will be at Olympia bringing news, views and inspiration.

 

Tickets to the London International Horse Show are still available for some performances and you can watch the best of dressage and show jumping action on the BBC.

https://www.olympiahorseshow.com/

 

 


NEW FEMALE TALENT FOR HORSE SCOUT: AMY MURPHY

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“There isn’t much life outside horses but I’ve never been one for shopping anyway” confesses racehorse trainer Amy Murphy. A familiar tale among Equestrians. Ellie Kelly caught up with Horse Scout’s latest advocate about racing dreams, being a woman in a man’s world and unhealthy eating habits.

At 24 years, many young people are still working out what to do with their life but Amy Murphy was already making waves in the racing world. Last August she gained her trainer’s license, departed from the security of a job as Assistant Trainer and set up a race yard, becoming the youngest trainer in Britain.  Her first season got off to a phenomenal start with nine winners and 12 placings from just 30 runners.

Amy Murphy Racing

Training racehorses was the dream from her early pony-mad childhood days. “I was in the Pony Club and did a lot of hunting but I was bitten by the racing bug” Amy explains. I started riding out for local trainers at 15 years old and I became fascinated by the training, buying, management and everything else involved in the industry. I loved the perfectionism and attention to minor details that could be the difference to winning or losing. So I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

Amy’s racing pedigree is excellent- her father Paul is a highly regarded breeder of Flat and National Hunt horses and she grew up on Whychnor Park Stud in Staffordshire deeply entrenched in the world of racing. “Whenever dad had a runner I was always sick that day so I could go to the races,” Murphy laughs. “But Dad was clear with me and told me that I had to get an education before I went into racing.”

Amy Murphy Racing

This started at Hartpury College where Amy completed a course in Equine Science. On finishing here she went straight into getting practical experience. ”I wanted to learn from the best” she says. This included a job with trainer Tom Dascombe before a winter spent in Sydney with leading female trainer Gai Waterhouse. On her return, Amy was then offered an enviable position as Assistant Trainer to Luca Cumani, arguably one of the best flat trainers in the world. This was followed by a stint with one of the best known National Hunt trainers, Nicky Henderson.

After less than a year training from her base Hamilton Stables in Newmarket, Amy has already amassed 27 horses with 12 owners- a mix of Flat and National Hunt horses. These include a Middle Eastern Royalty and Amy is just setting up an affordable racing club “so people can enjoy the social side without huge outlay” she explains. “It’s a small operation at the moment but my dream is to get the business off the ground and eventually be a big trainer with 100 horses” she says “In the short term it’s about keeping my horses healthy and fit”.

And being a woman in a heavily male dominated world? “It just makes me more determined” she states. “It’s certainly never put me off. Although racing is changing and woman are proving they can do it, both as trainers and jockeys.”

Amy Murphy Racing

A typical day starts around 5am and finishes around 6pm and Amy rides out on the gallops with the other stable staff. Unsurprisingly, Amy’s year round season allows for few days off. “It’s seven days a week most of the time but I take the odd Sunday off, which I like to spend with my family” she says.

As well as training and overseeing the day-to-day running of the yard, Amy deals with much of the admin and promoting the business. “Horse Scout will be a great asset to my business in terms of marketing and building up my network” she says.

LAST BOOK YOU READ- AP McCoy’s Autobiography.

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY- A Coffee with lots of sugar.

GUILTY PLEASURE- Galaxy chocolate. WHAT COULD YOU NOT

LIVE WITHOUT- My Labrador puppy, Milo.

BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER SO FAR- There are so many! Obviously all the trainers I have worked for but also my Dad, Paul Murphy. He has been a real mentor, particularly on the business side.

PHILOSPOHY-  You never stop learning. Anywhere I go, I walk in with open eyes.

To find out more about Amy Murphy or her racing club visit www.amymurphyracing.com

Amy Murphy Racing

 

 


Horse Scout catches up with showjumper Zoe Smith

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Horse Scout selected 19-year old Zoe Smith to become one of our sponsored riders, out of a huge number of talented young showjumpers on the AASE programme. Zoe is an International showjumper based in Lincolnshire and is certainly one to watch.

 

Hi Zoe, great to catch up with you since completing the AASE programme. How’s it all been going?
It has all been going really well, the horses are really benefiting from a much more structured yard and work scheme that was introduced to us at AASE.

How’s your season going so far?
The season has been going very well so far, both my young horse and top horse have come out of the winter premiers jumping very well. This lead nicely into our first international trip to Belgium where we picked up lots of placings in the U25 and 6yo tours.

It sounds like you’ve got off to a great start this Spring. Can you tell us a bit about the horses are you competing this season?
This season I have two main horses to compete;
The first is Que Sera III, 9yo gelding, by Caretino Glory out of a Goodtimes mare. He is quickly progressing up through the ranks, after starting at Newcomers level with us just over a year ago, he is now jumping 2* world ranking classes and double clears and placings at 1m40.

The second horse in my string is Garcia Lente a 6yo by Bodinus out of a Holland mare. He very quickly showed his class this year winning at the winter premiers, picking up numerous placings in Belgium and recently jumping double clear every day at Chepstow international. I’m very excited about this horse’s future, he could be very, very special!

zoe

We noticed on social media that you were posting from Chepstow International recently, tell us about the show…
The show is the first international jumping competing of the year in the UK, it attracts many of Britain’s top riders such as Peter Charles, Keith Shore, Nigel Coupe, as well as American riders Julie Welles and Emma Heise.

The show ran over 5 days with three different heights at 2* level, two heights at 1* and then a 5yo and 6yo international tour with a Grand Prix for each respective tour. A 6yo class is typically around 1m25 and a 6yo Grand Prix is 1m30.
The competition is also used as a youth team trial so the selectors were also attending.

No pressure then! What did you get up to there, when you weren’t riding? If you’re staying over, are there parties or do you opt for an early night?
On the first night, there was a champagne reception to welcome everybody to the show and to give the sponsors and owners of the showground a chance to talk to the riders and their supporters. As this was the first international show of the year it was packed to the rafters! When not competing, most of the time was spent helping and supporting some of my friends with their horses and watching the other classes and riders.

We saw that you did brilliantly throughout the show; how did you choose which classes to enter and how did it go…
I was fortunate enough to jump the biggest of the 2* tours on Que Sera III picking up double clears and placings, leading on to our first world ranking class grand prix on the last day just picking up a couple of poles.

My super consistent 6yo picked up two equal firsts, a 4th in the accumulator and then 3rd in the Grand Prix.

For the international classes, you get to choose which height you would like to jump from the classes on offer the afternoon before, I really like this system as it gives you freedom to set your horse up for the grand prix in the best possible way that suits your horse. It also means that if a certain type of competition doesn’t suit a particular horse such as an accumulator/speed class, then you can jump a different height that day or give them a day off.

zoe 2

OK so what next – more UK competitions to come or will you be overseas again?
I think we will be staying in the UK for a little while now to contend second round Newcomers and Foxhunter as well as talent seeker HOYS qualifiers. County shows are also starting up so there are more shows available to us these days. I’m also looking to take on a couple of young horses to bring on and build up my string. I am hoping to get back overseas again at the end of summer, as I feel both myself and the horses improved and benefited from the experience.

That sounds like a good plan and you’ve got loads to aim for. Finally, what are your goals for this season and are your horses currently on track?
After the year started a lot better than I ever anticipated, I think it’s time for me to create some new goals as a few of them have already been achieved! But the horses are definitely on track to achieve their individual goals for the season, including the upcoming second rounds and international shows, as well as my top horse almost having enough points to make him Grade B so he can contend for the bigger titles next year and this coming winter season.

Great job Zoe, we are proud to be supporting you and look forward to hearing how the rest of your season goes!


PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

jm2

Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

gubby2

The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

jm3

Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

gubby

Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

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