Horse Scout Ambassador Nicola Buchanan

Interview with Nicola Buchanan (nee Jourdain)


Horse Scout is proud to have some of the UK’s most talented riders as its Ambassadors.

In the build up to Rio, we’ll bring you the latest news about what they’re up to, how they got to the top, plus their top tips and advice.

 Horse Scout Interviews Nicola Buchanan (nee Jourdain)

International Grand Prix Dressage Rider & Trainer, Dorset


How did you get into dressage?

When I was 18, I wanted to do three-day eventing as I found dressage a bit dull. Then it all changed…

To become a more competitive eventer, I went to train with international Grand Prix (GP) dressage rider Gerda Smelt, with the hope of improving my dressage scores whilst eventing. Gerda owned a private yard in Haaksbergen in the Netherlands, I ended up staying for 4 years — and never jumped again.

And you went on to train some great horses, accumulating wins at international level, competing at Olympia and being long-listed for the Beijing Olympics… Please tell us the secret she taught you!

Gerda gave me the drive and ambition to reach my goals. She instilled in me the 3 Ds: Dedication, Determination and Discipline (with yourself).

So what have you been up to this year?

As I sold my GP horse, Don Corleone VH Scheefkastee, at the end of 2015, this year I’ve been concentrating on training three youngsters, two of which are owned by the Countess of Shaftesbury from her St Giles Stud, while the third is from the Half Moon stud.

Tell us a bit about them…

  • St Giles Cosmopolitan is a 4-year-old gelding by Conen x Conteur x Welt Hit.
  • St Giles Fairytale is a 5-year old Premium State mare by Furst Romancier x Donnerhall x Pik Bube. She is currently in embryo transfer to Dream Boy (Vivaldi’s son) and has now qualified at novice for the Nationals coming second at the Regionals in July.
  • Half Moon Dark Magic is a 7-year-old gelding bought bred by Julie Deverill’s Half Moon Stud. Bred by Dimaggio. He is currently competing advanced medium and qualified for medium and advanced medium at the Regionals with the aim of going to the Nationals (if all goes to plan). He is working on Prix St Georges and Inter I at home. Next year I will be competing at small tour at home, with the goal of some internationals towards the end of 2017.

Were you at Hartpury’s Festival of Dressage with them this year — we know you’ve placed at previous years?

I didn’t compete this year, but I was there to help one of my students, Gemma Maddocks, who was competing in her first International Small Tour. Currently my focus is with young horses so it will was very interesting to watch the semi finals of the young horse classes. The extra bonus was watching the Olympic Team riders compete in their last Grand Prix before Rio.

So you train others, but who trains you?

I try to train with Carl Hester as often as possible. It’s important to have eyes on the ground and his, of course, are so experienced. Carl’s training is very matter of fact, alway upbeat and looking to achieve the best possible performance with the horse you are training. He is a true inspiration and whilst maintaining his down-to-earth approach.

So three youngsters! That’s a lot of work. Any tips for others with a young horse?

Consistency — make a plan and maintain a good level of discipline with your training programme — youngsters can be naughty, fresh and exuberant so a good routine helps build their confidence.

So what’s your average day and ultimate goal for these youngsters?

I train my horses in the morning and teach my clients in afternoon — it can get a bit hectic sometimes. I have always enjoyed the training part of dressage, with my end goal being reaching Grand Prix with a fit and happy horse.

And the weekly schedule for your horses?

I school them Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays and Saturdays they enjoy a good hack. Sunday is a rest day. Every day of the week they are turned out to grass for most of the day.

So do you get any downtime?

At the moment I am extremely busy, however Sundays are my day off from the yard, unless competing, a Sunday lie in is always welcome, followed by a full English!

And holidays… Ski or beach?

I love both, but skiing has the edge if it’s a bluebird* day with deep powder!

Looking at the horses you’re riding, they’ve got serious pedigree, but for others buying young horses, what would your advice be?

It’s not always about the pedigree, first you look at the conformation, then I always look for three good paces, ride-ability is very important, that you can only gauge when sitting on the horse. The temperament of the horse is also vital — his (or her) willingness to work and learn is paramount.

Why an Ambassador of Horse Scout?

I see it as the linkedIn of the equestrian industry, connecting you to some of the top people in the equine world, plus it’s also an incredible place go to if you want to see the pedigree and history of a horses. It’s alway fascinating to trace the pedigree of horses, Horse Scout connects bloodlines of the horses profile automatically — it’s clever!

 *A bright clear sunny day after a night of snowfall.

Exclusive interview with Horse Scout, June 2016

You can visit Nicola Buchanan‘s Horse Scout profile by clicking  the link on her name.

Nicola Buchanan’s lovely horse Half Moon Dark Magic is related to a Stallion with DiMaggio breeding profiled on our Horse Scout Horses For Sale Pages here