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.
Interview with Horse Scout Ambassador 17 year old Charlotte Dicker
Junior International Team GB Dressage rider Charlotte Dicker
Counting days before she heads to the Europeans, Horse Scout chats to junior International Team GB Dressage rider Charlotte Dicker, currently at the top of the British riders on the FEI ranking list, about growing up, her tips on producing youngsters and her horses — including Tilly, a yearling of Timolin, sired by Totilas.
Horse Scout Interviewer asks: Where do you live and train?
At Catherston Stud under my mum Anne Dicker and grandmother the Jenny Lorriston Clarke (MBE).
That’s some equestrian bloodlines! Did you always want to be a dressage rider?
As a kid I was really crazy on my jumping — and I guess a bit of a daredevil, bombing around fields. Then I started vaulted training under Julie Newell and was a member of the English squad.
Looking back it really helped by seat and core and you have to be physically and mentally fit — mounting a horse on the lunge whilst it’s cantering isn’t easy!
So when did you get into dressage?
At around 13 — on my mum’s 17.2hh horse! Edgehill Drumroll taught me the ropes, although could be a stroppy ginger male at times! He was great at teaching me, if I didn’t ask correctly, he wouldn’t do it — mum trained him so well and I couldn’t have asked for a better horse to learn on. He owes me nothing, and I owe him a hell of a lot!
Who will you be riding at the Europeans?
Soli (Sabatini), an 11-year-old mare owned by Ian McRobbie.
What’s her character like?
She’s been difficult and tricky throughout her entire ridden career. I started riding her about two years ago when she was, quite frankly, a bit of a right off…
She’d had two foals and was so naughty that no one could get on with her and as a result, she had spent the majority of time in the field — basically the less you interacted with her the better she was!
To cut a long story short, Ian had been told that the best thing was to either put her into foal again or sell her as a brood mare, but when I rode her for a week I fell in love with her (even though she tried to get me off every day!). I asked mum if she thought Ian would mind if I tried to get her going (which he didn’t!) and set myself a goal of Junior selection, which we achieved. I now have the highest score in the squad and I’m proud that I’ve produced her.
Last year you made history by becoming the third generation of one family to represent their country at the European Dressage Championships.What’s your goal now?
I’m aiming for medals — both team and individual — at the Europeans, but in the top 10 – 15 would be great.
Longterm, I’ve a lot to live up to: placing at the Europeans, Worlds and the Olympics on a horse that we’ve bred would be amazing.
What other horses do you ride at Catherston?
I’ve a soft spot for mares…
Ulyssa (Sasha), again owned by Ian McRobbie, is a five-year old mare by my Soli (Sabatini) by Uthopia. She’s very much one for the future and we’d like to save her. Thankfully she has a better mindset than Soli!
Then there’s four-year old Catherston Osiana who is by my stallion Opposition Bombshell. Bred to event, she has three nice paces and a really lovely jump on her. As a late foal, we’re taking it slowly with her letting her enjoy lots of hacking and a bit of unaffiliated dressage with no stress. I’ve got high hopes that she’ll be my next top horse.
I’m also riding Laura and Erin Clothier’s Calva La Cornilliere when Laura is not at university. A nine-year-old gelding (Flemming out of Negro mare).
Training at Inter I at home I’d like to think he could go GP at end of year but we won’t rush him.
Is it harder training with family?
When I was younger I used to struggle a little. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure why. I suppose I took what I had a little for granted, but now we all get on really well, and I train regularly with mum and granny. It’s nice being at home, a real family affair. Having my aunt Lizzie also based at home has given me some great opportunities, including breaking in and producing her horse, Catherston Specific, a mare she bred by Catherston Springsteen to the dressage ring.
Do you train with anyone other than your family?
David Hunt is our team trainer and a big support — he’ll be travelling to the Europeans. Last year I had an apprentice role at Natalie Allen which was really inspiring and a good learning curve. During my time there I was lucky enough to have lessons with Charlotte and Carl. Both were intense lessons — but very different! I only had 20 minutes with Carl warming a young horse up and he gave me lots of tips — he’s got a really sympathetic approach. Interestingly, Charlotte was critical on things like turning one hand over by 20 degrees.
Tell us a bit about what’s going on at Catherston.
My mum, Anne, runs the business and stud now. We have a great team which includes farriers Nathan Appleton and Daniel Dicker (my Brother); vets McGonnell and Gillatt; and family friends Sarah Marks and Lynne Moles who come to the majority of my shows to support mum and I. Catherston is more livery/competition livery and stud now with quite a few foals. Granny formed a syndicate to buy Timolin and we now have four of his foals with us here now.
That’s Timolin, sired by Totilas?
Yes, I’m really lucky that one of the owners, Sarah Marks, has secured one of the yearlings, Catherston Timeless, out of a Breitling mare, for me. I intend ‘Tilly’ to be our homebred Olympic horse, but that will be in quite a few years to come! We have shown her in hand, and had great success. Tilly won the Sport Horse Yearling class, and then went Champion, and then Supreme Champion, and qualified to the Cuddy class! We are really excited about her and I’m so thankful to have a fabulous team of owners and supporters behind me.
And what do you think of British breeding currently?
We’ve got a strong breeding network and we’d like to think the Timolin foals will add to that… Mt St.John are also doing a lot but their market is mainly abroad.
There’s quite a few studs breeding some very nice horses for all disciplines but it’s a shame that many people still buy from abroad rather than looking over here for horses.
Your family have trained some amazing young horses. What are your tips?
Give as much time as they need — don’t rush or you will jeopardise your future with them. Babies need to be babies. I believe competing them in hand helps them when we come to compete them under saddle, as it gives them experience travelling and going to busy shows. It’s a lot for them to take in, but in the long run spreads out the ‘stresses’ they may face.
And what’s your weekly schedule — and tips — with more established horses?
2-3 days in the school, 2-3 days a week hacking (anywhere from 40-60 minutes to up to 2 hours). One day off and plenty of daily turn out.
We tend to jump a lot of our horses (even Soli jumps when we can), and we try to involve this in their training a lot as it helps their flexibility in their body, and minds.
All of our horses lunge (the young ones more than the older ones) and we use a lot of pole work in their training, we find this really benefits all of the horses.
And what do you like about Horse Scout?
I really like the profiles and twitter feed — it’s great to find out what people in the industry are doing.