Tag Archives: dressage horses

Horse Scout Real: Shaun Mandy



With the summer season quickly approaching, we caught up with Horse Scout Advocate and Dressage rider Shaun Mandy to find out what his plans are for the year ahead. We found out why he says putting the work in at home is so vital to getting the results in the ring and received some useful tips to help you achieve your 2020 goals.


Shaun as a coach, offers his clients a bespoke and professional coaching system to work with horses and riders of any level to help them achieve their objectives across multi-disciplines. No two horses or riders are the same, so he works on a flexible approach, tailor-made to suit both horse and rider. He is doing his British Dressage Level 2 in coaching this year followed by Level 3.



What are your main goals and ambitions for 2020?

My ultimate goal for 2020 would be to get onto the Grand Prix circuit. However, I have yet to sit down with the calendar and plan shows for this year. I will be going to the premiere leagues and high profile shows, but I will be more focused on securing the work and getting the training time in at home. My horse will be stepping up a level this year, so it is important to concentrate on his way of going at home and executing the movements to the best of our ability. This way, we will be able to confidently progress to Grand Prix throughout the year, hopefully resulting in getting the judges scores in the ring. In order to achieve this, I will set lots of shorter term, more achievable goals throughout the year. I will be judging how my horse is coping with these goals, and once I am happy with how he is going, look towards the next.



Tell us a bit more about your top horse…

My top horse, Euphoria E, is a lovely gelding by Carl Hester’s Uthopia out of a Sandro Hit mare. I acquired the ride on him as a six year old competing at Elementary level before later buying him. I currently have a small syndicate of owners for him and would be looking for a couple of new owners this year. Over the past five years I have produced him through the levels, this year we will be competing at Inter II and hopefully Grand Prix. He is the first horse that I will have produced through the levels and I am so grateful for the experience I have gained through training the horse myself. Yes, it would have been lovely to have been given a ready-made Grand Prix horse to ride, but although it has been challenging, I have come to appreciate the journey for what it has taught me. Saying that, all progress has been solely thanks to the fantastic training I have received from my coaches. Euphoria has been a real learning curve to produce. He is a lovely gentle horse who you would never want to shout at due to his shy character. He is, however, a bit of a silent stressor so I have had to really focus on quietly and confidently bringing him on, knowing that his talent may not have always been reflected in his scores as a young horse. Over the past year or so as he has started to step up to a higher level and has really started to come into his own as if to say, ‘I have arrived, this is what I have been waiting for’.





What would you say your career highlight has been to date?

I’m sure so many riders would have highlights that are purely results based, but for me, my career highlight has to be getting into Carl Hester’s Diary to train! Learning from the best riders possible has always been so important to me and Carl is someone that I have always longed to train with. I am extremely lucky to be able to learn from a rider of his calibre, as I feel that studying other riders and absorbing their knowledge is the only way you can improve, and who better to learn from then Carl himself? I am also incredibly lucky to be based with Matt Hicks and also train with him on a weekly basis, he has been fantastic and has really helped me to get to the level I am at today.



Do you have any top tips for training your horse?

1 – Patience is key! Never lose your temper with your horse, if he doesn’t understand what you are asking of him, think to yourself ‘How can I re-word this to help him understand what I want.’ If you find yourself getting frustrated, just jump off and put your horse back in his stable, there is no harm in coming back with a fresh approach the following day.


2 – Education, find a good trainer and put the work in at home. There is no rush to get out to a show, get your foundations right and build on them.


3 – Stay humble. Never think you know it all, there is always something you can improve on or try to work on at home. I remember when I first left home to train in Denmark, I honestly thought I was a decent rider. I had a real shock when I got there and saw how talented the other riders were and thought I can’t ride at all! But I think it was at this point that I realised that these riders that I am looking up to, will have other riders that they aspire to ride as well as and so on. I learnt how important it is to get your head down and keep learning your craft. Training is still so vital to me now, but it’s not only at home you can pick new things up, sometimes I’m in the collecting ring and see another rider warming their horse in and think, I need to try that!



Is there any horse that you wish you had in your stable?

There are the obvious greats like Valegro, I doubt there is a dressage rider in the world who wouldn’t love to ride a horse like that. But I honestly feel that every horse comes to you exactly the right time for you. I don’t think I would trade my horse for another at all. The journey that we have been on and everything that he has taught me, this has made me the rider I am today.



How important is training to you?

I can’t stress enough how quality coaching and training is key to progressing as a rider. The training that I have had along the way with Matt and now Carl has really developed and formed me not only into the rider that I am but also the trainer. It’s given me the tools in my kit to use and help others. The more that I can evolve as a rider and understand the sport, the more I can pass my knowledge on to those that I teach. My training hasn’t stopped just because I have got to Grand Prix level, if anything, I am now training harder than I ever have done before, it really is a never-ending cycle. Stay humble, stay focused on your goals and constantly learn from one another.


B is for Bigger, Better, Barbury



Chris BurtonImage by Benjamin Clarke Photography

If you want to see eventing at it’s finest and fancy a cheeky preview of many of the horse and rider combinations likely to be heading to the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina this September, then head to the St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials ( 5-8th July).


Barbury has undoubtedly become one of the premier international events of the equestrian calendar. It attracts the leading professional riders as well as the amateurs at the top of their game, so has never been short of thrilling action. With around 1000 horses to see this year, from one of the best spectator-viewing spots around, you certainly won’t be bored.


The four day event runs more international horses than any other UK event. Who come from all over the UK and even the world, to contest the ultimate cross-country challenge set by Captain Mark Phillips. He also designs Burghley, Gatcombe and Lexington. This year offers a CIC3* class as well as the fourth leg of the Event Rider Masters Series (ERM) plus sections of CIC2*, a final Pony Trial for the European Championships and seven Novice sections. Even the Novice sections include the best of the best at that level and with the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse classes staged on Thursday; this really is a chance to see the stars of tomorrow as well as today.


Don’t quote us on this but Barbury has often been used as an “unofficial trial” for major Championships like WEG and the Olympics and this year is expected to be the same. It’s not just the British riders under the spotlight either. With a significant number of foreign eventers based over here, don’t be surprised you are in the midst of team selectors from several nations.


The entries list has an eye-popping number of medal and 4* winning riders and the World number one and two- Horse Scout Advocate Oliver Townend and Gemma Tattersall. Then there is Andrew Nicholson, certainly the most successful Barbury rider of all time, having won the CIC3* consecutively, five times from 2012 to 2016. Other gifted Antipodeans in the line-up include Badminton babe Jonelle Price and her husband Tim plus Sir Mark Todd, last year’s Burghley winner, Chris Burton and Blyth Tait- who has also designed this year’s Novice course. The Brits include European Champion Nicola Wilson on her gold medal-winning mare Bulana, Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Horse Scout advocate Emily King. Plus our very own CEO, Lucienne Elms is taking a rare day off to compete her 3* horse, Mistralou who she is aiming to take 4* next year.



The Barbury nightlife is as good as any at an event. With parties on Friday and Saturday, you may find it hard to leave, especially after you have seen your eventing heroes pulling their moves on the dance floor. From personal experience, I can reassure you that in most cases- their talents lie elsewhere.


This year, changes have been made to the event layout, to give a better experience both for the riders and spectators. The final decision on this was made after the Organisers sought feedback from the riders on to improve the event. Which is very positive news, given that the Barbury Estate was sold to new owners last year and some were in doubt that the event would continue to run. The event is now “owned” by ERM, so we can be confident that Barbury Horse Trials, is here to stay.


Arena attractions include The JCB Champions’ Challenge on Saturday, all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. This is where top National Hunt Jockeys, including Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson and Sam Twiston-Davies, take on eventers Mark Todd, Jonelle and Tim Price and Lissa Green, in a relay show jumping competition.


Furthermore, there will be no need to feel guilty about dragging the family along. There is a “Kidzone” with a mini-zoo and real life meerkats; a dog show and dog agility masterclass with a World Champion agility competitor. Of course there is also tonnes of shopping and some great British nosh. So bring deep pockets and empty stomachs.

… But In the words of Baz Lurhmann, don’t forget to wear Sunscreen.


To buy tickets and for more information, visit www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk

Written by Ellie Kelly

Cover Image by Adam Dale


Top quality Showjumpers for sale on Horse Scout


Horse Scout  horses for sale classifieds are selling the best horses on the market.

Jaffar is an extremely competitive winner at 1.40m and 1.45m level with an incredible list of results including winning every 7yo GP in MET 2 2016. if you like to win then this is the horse for you.
STATS – 16.2hh 8yo gelding, sire Lord Z and damsire Darco.



Very powerful and careful gelding with a great technique over the jump, competitive in 1.30m classes and placing in 1.40m. Never stops, no vices, with a proper training will progress to Grand Prix. Ranked 18th in the Gold League.

STATS – 17hh 8yo Westphalian gelding, Sire Stedinger, grandsire Sandro Hit


This quality homebred is a fantastic model of a horse with a fabulous technique over his fences. He has a great amount of scope and is a prolific winner in his class. He has won a 6 bar contest, won 1.30m and qualified Blue chip B&C final. Grade A with wins too numerous to mention. A horse for the future with a great amount of talent.
STATS – 16.3hh 8yo Warmblood gelding by Darius


Fabulous opportunity for ambitious rider looking to gain more experience at the higher levels. Scooby has jumped up to 1.40m level – jumping at the big UK arenas including Hickstead (Derby Stakes) and Royal Windsor and out in Vilamoura Portugal in 2016. Good on the flat with 3 good paces, good flying changes and a great working attitude. Ridden and jumped in a snaffle mouth, This experienced horse really knows his job.
STATS – 16.3hh 11yo bay Selle Francais gelding, sire Iolisco De Quinhon


 Are you looking to sell you horse, or have a horse for sale? Sign up to Horse Scout today or call the team freephone on 03339 398353 for assistance.


Shaun Mandy, Horse & Hound’s blogger


Shaun Mandy – Horse & Hound blogger, dressage rider and coach talks to Horse scout about his practice.

A colourful character within the world of dressage, Shaun Mandy has been trained by some prolific names in the business. Here he gives us the lowdown of his life with horses and shares his tips on buying, backing and training youngsters.


How did you get into riding?

I grew up on a fruit farm in South Africa with a riding school on the neighbouring farm. Fascinated by horses, I dragged my mum to the school, began riding and never stopped. I was crazy on eventing despite the fact that from the age of 12, my instructor, Hillary (now a lifelong friend) said I’d always end up in dressage!

Have you worked for anyone famous?

I moved to the UK around 15 years ago when I was 17 for a placement at the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy in the New Forest. From there I became a groom for Pippa Funnell and then Olympic gold medallist, Jane Holderness Roddam, at West Kington Stud where I got a lot of experience riding young horses and eventing.

And in the world of dressage?

I was given a horse that had bottled it cross country by the Dutch rider Eddy Stibbe. I then began training with Jenny Loriston-Clarke followed by Pammy Hutton, but the real turning point was when I decided to pack my bags (and my horse, Poppy, and dog, Pringle) and moved to Denmark to train with Hasse Hoffmann, a top trainer and author. I stayed for 18 months often riding around 10 horses a day from youngsters up to Grand Prix level before returning to the UK in 2015. I now train with Peter Storr and rent eight stables at Gainfield Farm, employ a groom and apprentice, and take in horses to produce, alongside competing my own horses.

Tell us a bit about your own horses.

My top horse is Euphoria E (Inky), a Dutch seven-year-old by Uthopia — I own half of him. We’ve just stepped up to advanced medium, came second at Wellington’s Premier League with 68.55% and we are aiming for PSG in the spring. At the regionals, Inky felt awesome in the Medium test getting many 8s, but unfortunately three costly mistakes meant we finished 9th on 67.47% — one judge summed it up well (see pic) just little disappointing when it’s so close to being super!
My other horse, D.I. Dompadour (Poppy), whom I own outright, was also doing advanced medium with the aim of PSG in 2017, until she had colic surgery recently which means she’s out for the rest of the year now. She’s talented but tricky with everything taking a long time — she’s eight years old now.
I also ride another Dutch gelding, a four-year old called Houston V (Huey) by Tango x Goodtimes, and have high hopes for him. We’ve competed in a couple of four-year-old classes and placed third at Hartpury scoring 78.8%. The next step is novice tests and five-year-old classes next year.

Do you buy and sell horses?

I recently went to Germany with Lorain Nixon, who owns Houston to buy two gorgeous three-year-old fillies. One Furstenball x Sandro Hit (Bella) and the other by Vitalis x Florestan 1 (Bonny). I backed both, sold one within a month, but hope to sell the other after doing some four-year-old classes next year.

So what do you look for when buying a youngster?

Natural ability is good to see when you’re buying an unbacked three-year-old or younger — it’s about watching them move loose in a school. I like to see them as natural as possible in their paces so trying to get them not too excited when chasing them around. Attitude is very important to me and a trainable mind. The walk and canter are also important. Looking for a walk with a good overtrack and an uphill canter with active hind leg. For the purpose of selling on, it helps to have well-known breeding using proven dressage sires and grandsires.

And your tips for backing a horse?

Sounds obvious but a horse learns a good habit as quickly it learns a bad one — so make sure you do everything carefully, slowly and correctly.
And if you have an ‘oops’ moment and scare it by doing something a little too quickly, go straight back and repeat it even slower to ensure they are 100% happy, rewarding them for their patience.

We’re envious… you’ve been taught by some highly reputable trainers — give us one tip that stands out in your mind even today.

It has to be a quote from Hasse, from my time with him in Denmark: “Ride with colour”.
It means to have a plan in your mind when you school and to mix things up — it’s easy to just put a horse through it’s paces but think what you are working towards and make it fun.

So you now train horses and riders up to four-star advanced eventers… Any tips you frequently incorporate into your work?

Make sure you change gears frequently when riding, especially in your trot and canter work. Inky can get stuck in a canter and I really need to think of changing the gear three or four times when going down the long side of the arena. It helps Inky tune into my signals but also strengthens by making him take more weight behind.

So what are your future goals, Shaun Mandy?

To continue training horses and riders, get more sponsors and owners onboard, to ride international GP and, eventually, get to the Olympics!

And your thoughts on Horse Scout?

Networking is so important for any rider in order to get and retain sponsors and owners. There hasn’t really been one place that you can do this until now. It’s pretty cool being able to control your own profile and those of your own horses, whether they’re for sale or not.

– If you would like to keep a horse at livery or train with Shaun Mandy, who also takes competition liveries and producing/sales liveries then visit his Yard Profile on Horse Scout and  find more information on the fantastic facilities at Gainfield Farm – Shaun Mandy Dressage 

Poll Position – A Head In The Game?


I saw an interesting comment in an article which talked about the position of the horses head and the use of “Rollkuer”, actually the  list of articles where from a while back but all the same it made for interesting reading.  However from that I decided to look at articles about head position and came across this very interesting study.  This research addresses the controversy regarding head and neck positions of dressage horses by conducting a retrospective analysis of the angulation of the horse’s head during high level competitions to determine whether there were any significant changes over a period of 16 years from 1992 to 2008.

The basic premise of the study was based on the FEI Handbook which, in the description of the object and general principles of the test, states that: “The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the Athlete.”Since the position of the head is factored into the judge’s score for every movement and also into the collective marks awarded for general impression at the end of the test, it is reasonable to assume that a persistent faulty position would affect the final score.

The analysis was based on video recordings of the top 15 finalists at the 1992 Olympic Games and at the 2008 World Cup Final. All the horses were warmbloods bred in Europe and were similar in age at the two competitions. At each competition a video camera was set up perpendicular to the short side of the arena. Recordings of collected canter, collected trot, passage and piaffe were made on the short side of the arena. The videos were analyzed frame-by-frame using Dartfish software to measure the angle of the front of the horse’s nose relative to the vertical during a complete stride at each pace.

In all horses the analyzed strides were for the same movements, at the same place in the arena and were not within 3 strides of a transition. The head position in each video frame was classified as being behind the vertical or as being at or in front of the vertical. The overall scores awarded by the panel of judges were also comparedbetween the two competitions and in relation to the horse’s head position.

The results showed that the horses held their heads behind the vertical more than 50% of the time at collected canter and collected trot during both the 1992 Olympic Games and the 2008 World Cup Final with only small differences between the two competitions. However, larger differences were found in passage and piaffe.

In 2008 horses were behind the vertical 71% of the time in both passage and piaffe compared with 48% for passage and 45% for piaffe in 1992.

Movement: 1992
Olympic Games —— 2008
World Cup Final

Percentage of stride during which the head angle was behind the vertical.

  • Collected canter:  56% —— 55%
  • Collected trot:  53% —— 50%
  • Passage:  48% —— 71%
  • Piaffe:  45% —— 71%


As one might expect, the overall the scores improved from an average of 65.5% in 1982 to an average of 70% in 2008. Perhaps less expected was the fact that higher placed horses in 2008 were significantly more likely to be behind the vertical. This suggests that the criteria used by judges to interpret the FEI rules may have changed in the intervening period. Of course, many factors are considered by the judges and few people would argue that the standard of performance has improved greatly. However, the correlation between a horse spending more time behind the vertical and receiving a higher placing in the competition requires further investigation.

The entire paper on this study, can be found here.

Comparison of the head and neck position of elite dressage horses during top-level competitions in 1992 versus 2008

by Morgan J.J.O. Lashley, Sandra Nauwelaerts, J.C.M. Vernooij, W. Back, and Hilary M. Clayton
Published in The Veterinary Journal, 2014, volume 202, pages 462-465.

The  study was taken over 12 years ago but was relevant enough to be published only last year as an article.

I am not making a comment her but will see what further information is available, or what conclusions where drawn in 2014.  So watch this space….well not this exact space but a similar one on the Horse Scout Blog