Tag Archives: Burghley Horse Trials

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WEG FOCUS: JONELLE PRICE- Riding the Crest of the Wave after the birth of her son.

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New Zealand’s Jonelle Price has been knocking on the door of a big win for nearly a decade. This year with her evergreen mare Classic Moet, she won perhaps the most famous equestrian events of them all, The Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials. In doing so, Jonelle became the first female winner in ten years and all this, just eight months after the birth of her son Otis. Then just a month later, she proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning Luhmuhlen on Faerie Dianimo. Jonelle has been a regular fixture on the New Zealand event squad and helped the team to win the bronze medal in London 2012.

 

This week the 37-year-old will be hoping to add another medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games, where she must be in serious contention for an individual as well as a team in Tryon. And why not? It has been a great year for the Price family and the stars seem aligned. Earlier this month her husband and fellow WEG team-member, Tim Price won the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, making them the first husband and wife to win back-to-back titles since Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips did it in 1971.

 

Jonelle, who quit her law degree to follow her eventing dreams, is one of the most determined riders on the circuit and has success at all levels of the sport. According to the statisticians from Equi-ratings, Price is still “the fastest cross-country rider in the world” even after her break to have baby Otis.

 

For Jonelle, her pregnancy came as something of a surprise and was received with mixed emotions; “I hated being off. I was riding the crest of a wave, having just been third at Burghley (2016). Things were all going in the right direction and it felt like a spanner in the works. But reflecting on it, I realise now that in the scheme of your lifetime, it is not much really is it?”

 

Her sporting ambitions kept the 37-year-old looking forwards and helped her make a speedy comeback to the sport.

 

“It was a real focus throughout my pregnancy to stay fit. I rode pretty much the whole way through and I was at the gym and worked with a personal trainer the whole time so I didn’t lose a huge amount of fitness. Even though obviously your body changes a bit and that takes time to come back, I don’t think I lost the fitness of core stability.”

 

On her return, it was business as normal and giving birth had not dampened her competitive spirit or changed her feelings for contesting a high-risk and physically and emotionally demanding sport. “For me, that wasn’t a problem. You have more time when you are pregnant to think about these things and you wonder how it will affect you and hear stories of other women who decide to give up, in any sport. I think it’s a very individual thing and I was pleasantly surprised that I felt really normal. Nothing had changed and it really was just back to work.”

 

Whilst her family still live in New Zealand, the Prices are reliant on good child-care and Otis joins them at most events. “It hasn’t been as life-changing in the way I thought it would. I was worried about that but it has just enhanced our lives. He’s an incredible little boy and he doesn’t care whether we win or lose. It’s really refreshing, he still loves you the same and looks forward to seeing us at the end of the day, as we do him. For us, it really has been business as normal and we are lucky that in this job, he can come on the road with us. He is probably one of the most well-traveled one-year-olds you will find and he doesn’t know any different”.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: MARK TODD

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Undoubtedly one of the most prolific riders of all time, Horse Scout advocate Mark Todd has been competing at the top of the sport for nearly forty years. As well as winning Badminton four times and Burghley five times, Mark (aka “Toddy”) has competed at seven Olympic Games winning medals at five of those, including individual gold in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988). In 1978 he was part of New Zealand’s first three-day eventing team to contest a World Equestrian Games.

 

Toddy has competed at a number World Championships since, winning team golds in Stockholm (1990) and Rome (1998) and an individual silver in Rome. Despite this unprecedented and sustained success at the top of the sport, one prize has eluded the 62 year old. “I have never won an individual World Championship” he says. “If I retired tomorrow I could say I have had a very fortunate career and I have done way more than I ever imagined I could. But I am still competitive enough that I still strive to win the big ones- Burghley, Badminton and the World Equestrian Games.”

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With three horses qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games, we will almost definitely see Toddy in the line up. But before the Games which take place next month (11-23rd September), he has a demanding schedule ahead.

 

“From now on it gets really busy. Although I have a smaller team of horses, it is pretty much every weekend. Burghley is the first major coming later this month.” He feels there is unfinished business here this year. “Having had what I thought was being in a good winning position last year, until near the end of the cross-country. I’d love to go and have another crack again” he says referring to his fall from Leonidas just a few fences from home.

 

“Then a few days after Burghley, we leave for WEG. At this stage I am not sure which horse I will be taking but I have Leonidas, Kilturbrid Rhapsody and McClaren qualified.”

 

Toddy will be one of the oldest riders at the Games but also the one with the most experience. He does not feel his age has affected him physically. “I don’t feel it’s any physically more demanding- except when you come off” he smiles. “I have been riding so long that I have that muscle memory. I keep myself fit and healthy.” However, he implies that his competitive drive is perhaps not what it used to be. “I still enjoy the competition but I don’t enjoy all the work involved quite like I used to.”

 

Beyond this year Toddy is undecided on what the future holds. “I would love to take McClaren to Badminton next year but I will see how I feel at the end of this year.  I have young horses coming on and I certainly haven’t made up my mind but if I won a medal at WEG, I might decide to leave it there.”

 

Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly was talking to Mark whilst test-driving the full range of Land Rovers and Range Rovers in an off-road experience day at Rockingham Castle. Mark Todd is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been at the heart of equestrian sport for over 30 years. For more information visit  www.landrover.co.uk

To view Mark Todd’s profile click here.

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Ellie Kelly Horse Scout Media

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Tina Cook

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Tina Cook

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Tina Cook is one of Britain’s most successful event riders and has been a mainstay on Team GB since the early 1990’s. She is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning individual and team bronze in 2008 and team silver in London 2012 as well as winning a further 11 medals at World and European Championships. She was part of the gold medal winning team at last year’s European Championships with Billy the Red.

Surprisingly, Tina reveals that some of her best horses have seemed “fairly average” as young horses. The good news is for us budding event riders is that Tina believes that you do not need to start with a massive budget to find a suitable event horse, even if have big ambitions. “In my experience it’s all about having a horse with a good brain” she says. “Then by creating a trusting partnership and having good management as I have done with all my top horses, look at where it can get you.”

When I look back on my top horses they have not necessarily been the most outstanding young horses, but what they have all had in common is that they have had a trainable, competitive brain and an attitude to want to please me.”

Buying British and buying blood.

Tina has never felt the need to look abroad and has bought the majority of her horses in the UK. Many have come from bloodstock sales or via her brother, the well -known racehorse trainer Nick Gifford.  “I rarely go out and look to buy horses, they tend to find me, but when I do, I have always leaned towards Thoroughbreds. As I am looking for championship and potential four star horses, the more thoroughbred blood the better, and certainly nothing less than 60% blood. It is also the brain I am used to working with so it suits me best.

The blood horses may be more average in their movement but they tend to stay sounder due to their movement being more economical and effortless. I look for an easy action when they are cantering and they must be able to travel between fences. When a horse finds galloping and stamina easy, it’s not only one less thing you have to teach them and work on, but they are the ones that find the extra gear to get themselves out of trouble, even when they are tired. It is when horses are tired that injuries happen.”

Less is more

“We are lucky in eventing because in many cases, it’s Mr Average who can make it to the top, in a way that probably isn’t possible in dressage or show-jumping where scope and movement is vital.

There have been many times in my 30 year career, when I have had flashy moving horses with huge scope and I’ve thought it was my next Olympic horse but then they have never stayed sound or proved too be difficult to produce for eventing.

I see this a lot with Junior riders. They have a taste of championship level and with some money behind them, they think they need something that looks flashy and throws a big jump. But these horses are more difficult to ride because they are bigger and rangier and use more effort.

Through my career, I haven’t had big money to spend and it’s been a case of making the best of what I’ve got. Smithstown Lad was a 16 hand hunter hireling from Ireland. Together we were on the Junior and Young Rider teams, he took me to my first Badminton and finished 4th at Burghley.

Even Miners Frolic as a young horse had a very “Thoroughbred” technique over a fence and he was naturally the bravest, but he had a lovely attitude. So we had to work on trust and technique. Then Star Witness was a racing reject and I never thought he would make a four-star horse. But he has always tried his heart out. He has now done four, four-stars with a top ten placing in every one.”

I have produced almost all of mine from scratch. Until I got to my 40s and some owners wanted to buy something to go to the Olympics so we found Billy the Red through an agent. This was the first time I have ever done this and was the first I have ridden with eventing form, as he had done a few Intermediates.

“It is definitely important and I am a big believer in “no foot, no horse”. I have had horses with bad feet and they can stay sound if managed very carefully. When buying, I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss poor conformation or weakness if I liked everything else. A lot of my horses have had issues and I have found a way to keep them on track through the levels. It’s partly because I have not had lots to spend but also because I am stubborn. If a horse has some talent and a good attitude and I see them improving, that really excites me and I want to keep going, even if they do face physical challenges.”

Producing the Prize

Tina notes that however talented a horse, there is no substitution for good horsemanship. “Yes, everybody has upped their game, but I believe success comes more from the right training and good management more than relying on exceptionally talented horses. Look at Michael Jung. He turned both Sam and Fischer Rocana from glorified Young Rider horses into four-star winners.

I am very strict with making sure they are really established at one level before I move up to the next, even if that means spending more than a season before you step up. They don’t always have to be jumping big fences and going flat out to get the time in every event. Very few horses can cope with that both mentally and physically on every occasion. So I save that for when it really matters.

The most important thing is that horses enjoy it. It never works to bully a horse into doing something, they will eventually become unstuck because they won’t trust their rider. They have to want to please me rather than be frightened.”

 

Kit that powers Tina’s success

We always want to know what the latest “tack trends” plus the brands favoured by professionals. So here are Tina’s top choices:

“All my horses have been fed on Red Mills feed for years now and my brother Nick has all his racehorses on it too.

I ride in Voltaire saddles and virtually live in my Ariat boots and Gatehouse hat. For the horses I use Prolite boots for every day and competition, and as my horses spend a lot of time in the field we have plenty of rugs from Jumpers Horseline.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Talking to Aaron Millar – International Event Rider

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Aaron Millar, international event rider

The Dorset-based rider gives his tips on training young event horses and explains how he’s building up a stable of top horses after a tragic road accident in 2015.

You had a serious car crash in 2015, are you fully recovered and what are your main goals?

Yes, I’m lucky… I’m now concentrating on building up the business. I lost quite a few horses to other riders after the accident – you can’t expect owners to wait for you to recover but it’s also taught be to rejig the business and I now have shares in all the horses.

So how are you building the business back up?

I have someone in Ireland who sends horses over. Anything good enough to go to the very top we keep. Anything else we keep, produce and sell. The plan is to have a top string of horses at all levels and to achieve that I’ve set up a syndicate of owners. Sarah Wild, a lady who used to work on Wall Street, helped me create an amazing business plan to offer investors.

And you also offer a scheme, Affordable Eventing, whereby you don’t have to invest large amounts of money?

Yes, it’s aimed at people who love the sport but can’t afford to be an owner. You invest a monthly fee, get the similar benefits as if you were the owner, but instead you have an interest in four horses that run. You get a day a month at the yard watching them trained, free entry to all BE fixtures and a share of the profit if they’re sold.

Tell us about your main horse.

I have a good advanced horse Leonardo VIII (Leo) who I compete at 3 star and who I’ve produced since a four-year-old. He’s 13 (2003) out of a TB mare and Dutch stallion (Maximillian Voltucky). He’s a real character and loves his job. He’s done Blenheim, placed in advanced classes.

Tell us about your other horses.

I could have bought a couple of really good established horses with the money from investors, but then there’s the risk that if one goes lame, there’s only one running, so instead I’ve chosen four or five top five-year-olds.

They’ve got serious potential….William Fox Pitt asked to buy a couple but they’re not for sale unless I get offered a ridiculous price I can’t refuse!

Friendship VDL is a 16.3hh six-year old gelding by Azteca VDL. He’s had some good placings at BE100.

Galoping B is a 16.2hh five-year old gelding by Bustique with a couple of placings at BE100.

Gold Flush is a 16.2hh five year old mare by Andiamo. I went to see a three-year old after my accident and I saw her in the corner. She’d just come over from Holland and had probably been on a farm or something as she clearly hadn’t been handled very much and looked a bit like an RSPCA case. I’m not sure what is was, but I just saw something in her. I bought her and sent her to my parents to be turned out to chill out and get fat, then brought her on slowly. She’s gone out as a five-year-old and been placed every time.

So what do you look for in an event horse?

Around 60 per cent thoroughbred and something that has quality movement, jump and temperament. I’m looking for a couple more – they’re hard to find! At the lower levels the foreign horses look smart but they’re not always careful and get tired at a high level if they jump huge over every fence. They can also get bored if they’ve gone from the stable to the school from a four-year old. The Irish, however, go hunting, they gallop hills, jump ditches, learn where their feet are and how to look after themselves and conserve energy. The cross country phase is so important now as we saw recently in Rio.

What tips would you give others looking to buy an event horse

Temperament is vital – finding a horse loves its job and wants to do it.

Riders who want an advanced horse will of course need something that has a little sharpness and to be able to dig deep. By sharpness I don’t mean something that whips round… I mean alert, switched on and able to deal and learn from its mistakes.

Any Horses for sale now (August 2016)?

I have one that would make an ideal junior young rider. It will easily jump a two-star advanced but for me it behaves too well… it just doesn’t have that spark I’m looking for to go to the very top.

What’s the best horse you’ve produced?

I guess it was Allercombe Ellie whom I produced from a five-year-old up to three-star level. In 2014 she was selected for the World Games and for Rio with Izzy Taylor but unfortunately she never went as she was lame. Knowing I’ve produced a horse to that calibre is really exciting.

What horse will you never forget?

Stormstay (Henry) who took me to my first Badminton – we had a faultless round cross country. He also gave me two clear rounds at Burghley before I retired him.

Any tips for people training a young event horse?

If it’s a young horse then take it hunting. They learn how to conserve energy and really dig deep when they are tired. Fitness is vital for any event horse and they also need core strength so we do a lot of pole work on lunge. We have our show jumps and dressage arenas in a field – young horses move naturally forwards in a field, whereas in the school they’re often not in front of your leg. They tend to enjoy working much more if you go for a short hack first. You can generally tell a horse that goes from the box to the school and back.

Describe a typical working week for your young horses.

On a Monday they might be hacked then go in the school long and low.

We use a lot of raised trot poles on floor to help them strengthen their core and develop their trot, and canter poles to help their jumping.

On Tuesday they’re hacked then worked more ‘up together’ on the flat in the field or in dressage arena.

On Wednesday they’d jump – depending on the horse they might go through a grid in the school or jump in the field. They’ll also go for a canter afterwards.

Thursday is an easier day – they’ll be hacked or be lunged over poles.

Friday depends on whether they’re competing the next day. If they’re going to a show, they might have little pop over a jump or two, or work through a test.

All of our horses get time out religiously every day. My main aim is that I want them to enjoy their job and to be doing four star eventing at 13-14 years old.

What’s your goal?

To be at the stage I was before the accident. I want to get back to Badminton and Burghley but I’m not in a rush. I have some very nice young horses but I want a yard full of horses with a high value of £30k upwards. At the moment we make it work by selling horses at£15k-£20k. We need a couple more investors and horses.

Interview for Horse Scout by Sam Lewis

Follow Aaron Millar and keep up-to-date on his progress and the horses he has up for sale either through his profile page here or on our Horses for Sale pages by using these links.  We have also a blog about Aarons’ horses for sale. 

Zazou Snow by Concorde; Zazou Snow is connected by breeding to four other stallions advertised on our Stallions at stud pages

Aaron Millar also has a lovely young coloured horse April Shower for sale, to find out more link to his Horses for Sale page on the Horse Scout web site.