Tag Archives: Horse Scout

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE MARES AT THE LONGINES WORLDS BEST RACEHORSE AWARDS

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Just as women are changing the game in today’s world of sport, business and politics, you may have noticed that the “fairer sex” of the four-legged variety, are making headlines in the equine world. A number of leading mares have claimed world titles prestigious accolades recently. And at the end of last month, the winner of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Awards was announced as Winx. The Australian flat race mare has won 29 consecutive stakes races including 22 Group 1s.

 

Winx is not the only mare to dominate the racing scene. The British thoroughbred Enable, who featured eighth in the 2018 Longines world rankings, has been one of the most dominant middle-distance horses in Europe for several years. Last year, after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the second time she went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Making history in the process, as the first horse to achieve this feat.

 

2018 was also a great year for mares as well as girls in Equestrian sport. The 15-year-old mare Classic Moet, won Badminton under Jonelle Price- the first female rider to win in 11 years. Whilst show-jumper Simone Blum riding DSP Alice and Dressage stars, Isabel Werth on Bella Rose were individual winners the showjumping and dressage world titles at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

 

But back to racing and the grand affair that I was lucky enough to be invited to. On Wednesday, January 23, Longines and its long-time partner the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), hosted the 2018 Longines World’s Best Racehorse, World’s Best Horse Race and World’s best jockey ceremony in the Landmark Hotel, London. With an equal rating of 130, Winx and Cracksman were together declared the 2018 winners. Frankie Dettori celebrated the leading jockey award, a clear leader with the highest number of points. It was a French victory as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was chosen as the best horse race in the world.

 

For Winx, this was the third year in a row that the nine-year-old has won the award. In addition, she has been the highest rated filly/mare in the world since 2016 as well as the top-ranked turf horse. In 2018, her season culminated in her becoming the only horse in history to win the Ladbrokes Cox Plate four times. What is also significant about this tough mare, is her longevity in a sport which is rarely a long career for horses. Winx has consistently won over five seasons and is going into her sixth with no immediate plans to retire. Yet she has proved her versatility, speed, and staying power, by winning over a range of distances from 6 ½ furlongs (1300 metres) to 11 furlongs (2200 furlongs).

 

What is also unique, is that unlike many elite racehorses, Winx does not have a particularly long stride. Her stride was measured at 6.76 metres compared to 8.5 metres for other horses of similar calibre. Instead, her success has been attributed to a freakish stride rate that allows her to take 14 strides for every 5 seconds, compared to 12 for her rivals. According to Dr. Graeme Putt, who has studied the science of racehorse success, this is a unique advantage. “This means she can settle or accelerate at any time during a race.”

 

Winx was sold as a yearling for 230,000 Australian dollars (just under £128,000) at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale. She has already amassed around A$23 million dollars (around £12.74 million) in prize money under trainer Chris Waller and her principal jockey Hugh Bowman. She is owned by Magic Bloodstock Racing, Richard Treweeke, and Debbie Kepitis. Most of her connections came over to collect the Longines prize and we were lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with Debbie Kepitis about the courageous mare who has changed their lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JopbA-fjSwM&feature=youtu.be

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

How to win the Puissance on a horse you’ve never ridden before

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Horse Scout reporting at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show 

 

The Puissance is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It measures bravery, scope and the ability to hold your nerve. It is an event that never fails to fill seats and excite a crowd and cause a stir. This year’s Puissance at Liverpool International unfolded like a fairy tale and the end to a great year for British rider Matt Sampson, who finished in joint first after clearing 7ft 3” (2m20). Not only was he a relative rookie against the big red wall, but he achieved the feat with a horse he was riding for the very first time- Laura Renwick’s Top Dollar VI.

 

Eleven combinations competed which ran for the maximum five rounds. It was whittled down to just two in the final round with Matt sharing the honours with Irish youngster, Michael Pender. Michael was riding the scopey mare Hearton du Bois,  with whom he won the Dublin Horse Show Puissance this year.

 

Matt’s catch ride, Top Dollar VI may have more experience than his rider, having jumped a number of Puissance classes with Laura. In fact, the pair won the class at Olympia in 2017 but Laura decided to hand the reins over to Matt less than an hour before the class. That being said, to take on any new horse before a class and win it, is one helluva feat. Let alone to put faith in one another to jump the unjumpable.

 

Matt reveals how he prepared himself mentally for the challenge:

 

“I didn’t know him at all but maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I just tried to ride forward to it and give him a little bit of room because he’s such a big horse. You’ve just got to keep them confident but then he’s a very good horse. It got easier each time as I just figured him out and trusted him a bit more and it just went on from there.”

 

So what does it feel like jumping that wall? “It feels amazing” he smiles. “I’ve actually only done one Puissance before at a show in Holland. So I didn’t have a lot of experience in the class.”

 

Preparation outside is minimal he explains. “It’s very hard to prepare in the warm up to jump a wall. Because we don’t have a wall in there, we just have a vertical and an oxer. I did a couple of verticals and an oxer but only about 1m40 to 1m 50 high. In comparison to what we are jumping in the arena, it’s not a lot but I think it’s better to keep the horses confident so if they go in the ring thinking that they can jump it, then it’s got to give you a better chance.

 

About an hour before the class, Laura (Renwick) rang me and asked me what I was doing and I said “nothing”. So she said did I want to ride her horse in the Puissance.

 

When asked if he had many catch rides in his career. He responded humbly with “not really”. Until legendary jumper Geoff Billington interjected with “he’s the King of Catch rides this one” referring to Matt’s win in the Hickstead Speed Derby on a catch ride Top Flight True Carlo in Hickstead’s Derby meeting.  In May, Matt had the biggest win of his career when claiming the prestigious Hamburg Derby, aboard Gloria van Zuuthoeve.

 

Whilst it is apparent, Matt would love to ride the gallant chestnut, Top Dollar again, he is philosophical about it. “I don’t know if it will happen again- probably not. But if I don’t ride him again, it was a good way to end on a high. He jumped amazing and it filled me with confidence.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Liverpool International Horse Show - Dressage - Charlotte Dujardin

Wowed by Liverpool

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Our roving reporter, Ellie Kelly heads down to the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show  to check out the action.

 

It was my first visit to Liverpool-  both the city and the show and I have not been disappointed. Despite the 600 mile round trip, within hours of being there, I decided to make it a regular fixture. Nina Barbour has delivered a first-class event to this vibrant city. In a part of the world which is rich in horse enthusiasts and professional riders but surprisingly short of major equestrian events. Testament to the quality and production of the show, leading riders from the worlds of showjumping and dressage were competing, even at a time when many professional yards wind down over Christmas. Still a relatively new show, Liverpool International is gathering momentum but with leading riders some great entertainment, I wasn’t surprised to see the Echo Arena with very few empty seats.

 

On the first day, Charlotte Dujardin reminded she is no one-hit wonder when claiming the Equitop Myoplast Freestyle Dressage. The multi-medaled Olympian scored 81.938% on her flashy eight-year-old mare, Florentina VI in the Intermediate 1 class. Earlier in the evening, she paraded Valegro to an excited crowd at the Echo arena.

 

Also on Friday, teen showjumper Jack Whitaker won the Liverpool International Under 25 Grand Prix, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds. The son of Michael Whitaker has had another great year, including winning a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.

 

It was a great day for the girls on the second day. Pony rider Claudia Moore repeated her great Liverpool victory of 2017 in the 148cm Championships, sponsored by Carden Arms. Claudia was a member of Great-Britain’s Pony European Championships this summer, where she claimed individual bronze. In the evening, Harriet Nuttall who scored the fastest jump-off time to win the four-star Voltaire sponsored jumping class, somewhat fittingly as the Somerset rider is sponsored by Voltaire.

 

On Day three Harry Charles underlined his status as one of world showjumping’s most exciting prospects by claiming a brilliant victory at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

The 19-year-old, from Alton in Hampshire, won the 1.45m international speed class, sponsored by Hope Valley Saddlery, with bay mare Doulita.

 

It proved to be a thrilling competition, with Harry’s time of 57.28 seconds proving just enough to edge out Graham Babes. They were both members of Great Britain’s gold medal-winning European Young Riders team earlier this year.

 

“It was an amazing win,” Harry said, after collecting a £7,300 victor’s purse. “I own the horse, which makes it extra special. I’ve had her a year, and every day I have put work into her to get her to this level.

 

Harry, son of London 2012 Great Britain team showjumping gold medallist Peter Charles, added: “It has been an absolutely fantastic year for me. Liverpool last year was my first real big show, and since then my whole career has taken off. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to win every time, it is the best feeling in the world, and I chase that every day in training. I want to make sure I do my best.

 

It was England and Ireland who shared top honours in the Puissance on Sunday evening. Yorkshireman Matt Sampson and Irish challenger Michael shared the top prize after they both jumped 2.20 metres (7ft 3in) to clear the famous red wall in a class sponsored by Equitop GLME.

 

And for Matt, it was a remarkable result, given that he only knew about his ride – Top Dollar VI – barely 30 minutes before the start after its regular rider Laura Renwick rang and offered him the ride.

 

“I’ve only ever done one Puissance before but he filled me with confidence and it got easier as I figured him out a bit more,” said Matt.

 

There will be more hot off the press action from the final day of the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

 

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CATCHING UP WITH A YOUTUBE STAR: THIS ESME

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With her entertaining and informative video series, 17 year old Esme Higgs has become a YouTube star. In fact “This Esme” has become the world’s largest equestrian YouTube channel with 3.5 million views monthly. Ellie Kelly caught up with her ahead of the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show, where she will be coming along to enjoy the show and meet her fans.

Do you remember your first time on a pony?

Yes, at a friend’s 5th birthday party, I was 4 at the time. I remember feeling so high up and the pony seemed massive, however looking back on it the pony was probably only 12hh.

What is it about riding and the lifestyle that you love?

So many things! Being outside, sharing my life with animals, developing a bond, trust and partnership with my horse.

How do you juggle going to college with your horses?

For me, looking after the horses is a pleasure and a real break from school work and studying. It has just become part of my everyday routine. I try and manage my time well to fit in as much as I can.

Do you ride every day?

I’d love to, but at the moment with winter and my A-levels around the corner, it’s hard. However next year when my studies are done I have lots of riding planned, both in the UK and around the world.

Why did you decide to start making videos?

I started making small videos on my phone to track my progress with my pony Casper, so I could look back and see how much I’d improved. Quickly, and to my surprise, views and subscribers increased and I now post a video at least weekly and get over 3 million views a month from people all over the world.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Work hard, play hard

Have you ever had anything nasty written about you on social media or to your face?

I’ve met lots of people face to face who watch my videos and every one of them has been really friendly and positive. I also get lots of mail sent for “Mail time with Mickey” videos and again people are all so lovely. However, I do occasionally get a negative comment- it seems to be inevitable that if you put yourself out there you will get some criticism as understandably everyone has different opinions on things.

What advice would you give to people who might have suffered that?

Whilst its easier said than done, I try and ignore it, and would advise others to do the same. Don’t reply or give them any attention, and remember that the negative comments are far outweighed by all the positive feedback. Also, you don’t know what’s happening in the life of the person who has left the negative message.

What do you want to be when you finish school?

Once I finish school, I’m going to spend a year doing YouTube full time and see how that goes. During that year, I’ve got plans to travel and visit, amongst other places, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and Japan. I’m hoping to have more equestrian experiences and film them in the process. Following this I’d like to go to University and ultimately work with horses.

What couldn’t you live without and why?

Apart from horses? Coffee

Which horse would you most love to ride?

A big event horse like Ballaghmor Class

What makes you laugh?

Mickey, he’s just the funniest pony

What makes you cry?

At the moment….Thermodynamics in Chemistry

Where are you happiest?

Outside- whatever the weather!

Favourite book?

The Harry Potter series as they got me into reading when I was younger.

Favourite film?

Anything Sci Fi

Favourite food?

Italian, can’t go wrong with pizza or pasta

Casper’s favourite treat?

Stud Muffins!

You’re coming to Liverpool- what will you be doing there?

I’ll be making a film for YouTube as well as being part of the signing zone and meeting my viewers. I’ll also no doubt enjoy the shopping and the show!

What is on your Christmas list?

A unicorn!

What is on Casper’s Christmas list?

Lots of treats….

New Year’s Resolutions

To keep coming up with new ideas to try and make my YouTube content better and better.

You can meet Esme at the Liverpool and see a host of other equestrian stars at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show, which runs from 28th-31st December. Tickets still available www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

 

 

Ben Maher & Triple X III

BEN MAHER

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The Horse Scout team catches up with Ben Maher at the Longines Global Champions Playoffs in Prague this weekend. 

 

Ben Maher has had a cracking season in the Longines Global Champions Series. After winning three Grand Prix, he was crowned as the overall winner of the LGCT after winning Rome in September. His horse, Explosion W is just nine years old. The seemingly unstoppable pair went on to Doha, the final leg of the Series to win both the Grand Prix and captain his team- the London Knights to another victory in the Longines Global Champions League.

 

The Global Champions League has really taken off. As team Manager of the London Knight’s, what has been the strategy behind your success for most of the season?

A lot of thought and planning goes into it. We will have a meeting in January to find out what horses everyone has available and work out where to aim those horses and what everyone’s commitments are. So it’s a 90% plan for the first half of the season. There’s a text group and most of the time it stays serious but the guys sometimes fool around a bit. We have a very strong team spirit.

This year I’ve been lucky, there has been a very strong team bond and they have all taken it very seriously and that’s why we’ve managed to be so successful.

 

What is the significance of the Global Champions Series to the sport and how has it changed it? 

It has been great for the sport. We ride every weekend for 100,000 euros to the winner. It was only five years ago that we were riding for 20,000 and thought that was a big weekend. It’s pushed the level of prize money monumentally. I never thought I would see prize money come to our sport this fast.

 

With that, the horse values have increased. It’s brought more sponsors in and hopefully, there will be TV right from big broadcasters. Maybe, in the end, we can get it back on mainstream TV because it is a great sport. There are lots of kids who have ponies or dream of having ponies. They have a connection with what we do. Like people who play tennis at the weekend, love watching Andy Murray. I Hope that within my career it can come back to what it was because I really believe it’s a great sport to watch.

 

The GCT and the GCL are continually trying to improve and grow the sport. It’s brought some colour to the sport. We’ve been very lucky to ride in these unique venues and now fans can actually follow a team and we have team colours to make it stand out. Slowly it’s building momentum and I really think that in ten years time, it will be huge.

 

Does the attractive prize fund detract you from competing at other significant competitions and making team appearance?

Obviously, the prize money is increasingly growing in the GCT but it’s not growing comparatively at other competitions. I’m still committed to my country and supportive of the Nations Cup Series and the Championships. My decision not to be available for Championships was based on the fact I have a younger team of horses and Championships are a lot harder on a horse than one Grand Prix on a Global Champions Tour so it was in the best interests for my horses’ welfare.

 

We still have not qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, so you think there is a chance we may not get there? 

We have two chances next year at Rotterdam in the European Championships and then Barcelona for the Nations Cup Final and I will do my best to make that happen.

 

I will never forget riding for my life in Aachen to qualify for the Rio Olympics. It was harder getting to Rio than it was in Rio and I never want to get to that point again. It’s a sport where we are always moving, some people who may not have helped to qualify still make it on to an Olympic team because they have the right horse at the right time and you have to have that in consideration. I also have owners that own my horses and it’s not always my decision.

 

How do you think it will grow the sport?

The GCT and GCL, runs at a slightly higher pace so that keeps the interest. Rather than 40 horses with riders all dressed the same, I agree it can be like watching paint dry- like Formula 1. Where the sport is interesting is looking at the tactics, the training and what goes on behind the scenes before those 60 seconds we spend in the ring. I think this is how we can really draw the audience into what we do and then they can bond with the horses as we do ourselves.

 

It looks like an incredible life from the outside but what is the reality?

I’m incredibly lucky to do the sport that I love and enjoy. But I’ve been on the road 50 weeks this year. I barely know what home is. I’ve also had the best season of my career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We lose more often than we win and I just try to enjoy it as much as I can.

 

Whilst you are now winning big, the overheads must be enormous? 

The expenses are huge. It’s travel for both horse and rider and we are living in hotels most of the time. There are 40 horses within our team with 20 members of staff, planes, trucks. The reality is that the prize money a horse can win now and the value of the horses, it’s now in keeping with what it costs to run a horse.

 

With these horses, there is no expense spared. They are treated like high-level athletes. They are better looked after than I am. They live in the Four Seasons hotel lifestyle every single day. They have physios, specialist care and in many cases have one groom per horse. They are the athlete and that is how we take care of them. Thankfully the sport has now developed enough to help make it financially viable for investors and owners to be part of the sport

 

Highlight of your career

Competing at the Olympic Games in London where we won team gold. It’s a moment that won’t be repeated in my lifetime at a home game. I would like to go to another Olympics and the dream is to win both a team and an individual gold medal. A double gold would be the ultimate!

 

Do you think we could win a medal at the next Olympics? 

I think anything is possible. This year I didn’t think it would be possible to win the Global Champions Tour Final on two young horses.

 

What do you think of the state of British showjumping at the moment? 

We have a lot of good young riders in the UK but I don’t think it’s a sport where riding is just enough anymore. I think you have to be a very rounded person and you have to be able to communicate with sponsors, owners. I think it’s looking bright, I believe We are just a few years off being very strong. Myself and Scott have had a very good year and I hope we can be a part of that and lead the way for young riders like Emily Moffit, Jack Whitaker, and Harry Charles but we don’t have a lot of time before the next Olympics so we need to accelerate and get things moving quickly.

 

https://www.gcglobalchampions.com

 

CHI Geneva 2018

CELEBRATING THE SPONSOR: ROLEX AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO EQUESTRIAN SPORT

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Olympia, Badminton, Burghley, Windsor would simply not exist without sponsorship just as professional riders could not live without their support. We are extremely lucky to have some huge and high-end brands involved with equestrian brands so we thought it high time we celebrated one who has been involved in Eventing, Showjumping, Dressage for many years. They are also sponsors of the recent CHI in Geneva which attracts the best showjumpers in the world.

Rolex is synonymous with equestrian sport at the highest level. As well as sponsoring a number of individuals such as showjumpers Scott Brash, Rodrigo Pessoa, Steve Guerdat and Kent Farrington, Plus World Number One dressage rider Isabel Werth and event rider Zara Tindall; they are responsible for offering some of the richest prizes in the sport. The Rolex Grand Slam in both Showjumping and Eventing is one of the most lucrative and best-known accolades a rider can achieve. A true test of horsemanship and steely nerves, it’s the one they all want to claim. Last week was one of Rolex’s title shows- the CHI Geneva.

This year, the show welcomed 40 of the best riders in the world to compete in the main class, the Rolex Grand Prix, the final Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Fittingly, Geneva is the home city of the Swiss watchmaker and The Rolex Grand Prix is, staged in the  Palexpo Arena. The 22-year partnership between Rolex and the CHI Geneva demonstrates Rolex’s commitment to supporting equestrian sport worldwide. Having been named the best show jumping event on nine occasions, CHI Geneva has a long and distinguished equestrian heritage and Rolex has been a proud sponsor since 1996.

It was a victory for Germany’s Marcus Ehning riding Pret A Tout, repeating his success from CHIO Aachen where he won the Rolex Grand Prix in July earlier this year. Second place went to Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat riding Albfüehren’s Bianca and third place went to Irish rider Darragh Kenny riding Balou du Reventon. Britain’s Scott Brash and Ben Maher finished 6thand 7thresepectively.

Over 42,500 fans gathered over the four days for the CHI. With a packed arena delighting in a thrilling two-stage Rolex Grand Prix competition between the world’s elite. Scott Brash was the first rider to go clear, later joined by Steve Guerdat and USA’s Kent Farrington in the line-up of riders going through to the jump-off. The Swiss crowd erupted into applause as one of their home favourites, Guerdat went clear, sailing around the challenging course.

With 11 clears in the first round, the equestrian fans were enraptured as they waited for what promised to be a breath-taking jump-off, with three Rolex Testimonees, the world number one and a previous Major winner included in the line-up. Whilst all riders gave it everything, it was Marcus Ehning who prevailed with a precision performance demonstrating his exquisite horsemanship and sporting skills.

Supported by Rolex since 2013, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the most prestigious competition within equestrianism, it is also one of the toughest feats to achieve. It requires precision and excellence from every horse and rider partnership. All four Majors within the competition have a rich equestrian history and focus on delivering elite-level sport. This demonstration of commitment along with a passion for excellence reflect Rolex’s values and make each a perfect partner for the Swiss watchmaker.

The world’s equestrian elite will now look to The Dutch Masters, the first Major of 2019, where Ehning will be travelling as the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender.

 

Imagery by © BEF / Jon Stroud Media

Horse Scout Opinion: What’s happening to British Showjumping?

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Showjumping was once the pride of the British nation. With a golden era spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s where Britain was consistently in the medals and the sport enjoyed a high television profile, riders like David Broome, Harvey Smith, Nick Skelton, and the Whitaker brothers were household names.

 

However, the sport started on a steady decline. Blamed largely to a shortage of horsepower and a crisis of management by the governing body, the lack of medals became a source of embarrassment to riders and followers. Suffering from a low profile led to many of Britain’s best horses being sold abroad. Tinkas Boy, a horse produced by Nick Skelton was sold to Swiss rider Markus Fuchs who went on to win four Championship medals including team silver in Sydney 2000.

 

Then in 2012, the British showjumping quartet of Nick Skelton, Peter Charles, Scott Brash, and Ben Maher put the sport back on the map by winning their first Olympic gold since 1952, in front of a rapturous London crowd. Nick Skelton continued to keep the dream alive when at the age of 58, he claimed the individual gold in Rio 2016- his seventh Olympic Games with the great Big Star.

 

But history repeats itself and recent results suggest a demise is once again occurring in the British camp. We are still not qualified for Tokyo 2020, with just two opportunities for qualification left.

 

This year we failed to be in the reckoning for a medal at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. Whilst we qualified for the Longines Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, after finishing in second to last place, the future of British showjumping looked a bit bleak.

 

At the World Equestrian Games, the best British result came from new kid on the block, Amanda Derbyshire who was the only rider to qualify for the individual final. Is it significant that Amanda is based in the US, competing weekly against the US team members who claimed team gold? Adding to the fact she rides for American owners? Additionally, Amanda learned her trade from Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut, with whom she was based as a stable jockey at the beginning of her career. Interestingly her horse, Luibanta BH was sourced and produced by Britain’s Ellen Whitaker. In fact, seven horses competing in the final 25 for the individual medals in Tryon were either bred or produced in the UK.

 

The fact of the matter is that Performance Manager Di Lampard has struggled to pull together a team this year. She has had to be brave and select young partnerships but deserves credit for this move, especially her selection of a predominantly female team. It begs the question, where are Ben Maher and Scott Brash when we needed them? Is their absence due to lack of horsepower or lack of inclination, when the prize money offered by Rolex and the Global Champions Tour is far greater than that offered in Tryon.

 

Di is the first to remark that the problem is not for want of good riders but rather a lack of strong horse and rider combinations. Anyone who follows British showjumping will be aware that we are breeding some extremely successful horses. Yet the figure above, suggests that we are not keeping hold of these horses.

 

Other opinions in the sport, suggest it is the British system that is letting the sport down. That the class structure is a hindrance rather than a help in producing and sourcing young talent.

 

I will leave you with the view of Nick Skelton on where we are going wrong at the moment:

 

“Like the Europeans, we should be focusing on having age classes for horses in order to source and produce the best young horses in the country before they get sold out of the country. And unlike abroad, there are no incentives offered by the Federation for a rider to keep a good young horse. So when the riders get a good offer, they take the money and it’s foreign riders at the Championships on horses we bred and produced”.

 

At Horse Scout, we love knowing what you think about the industry. So our new series of opinion blogs are aimed at being interactive and spark debate. So we want to know your thoughts on the state of British Showjumping. If you were Chief Executive of British Showjumping or Performance Manager of the British Team, what would you do? 

We look forward to hearing your opinions.

 

Imagery by © BEF / Jon Stroud Media

 

 

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Changing times. World Horse Welfare Annual Conference

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Last week, Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly was in attendance at the World Horse Welfare Annual Conference in London. It is an exclusive event attended by leading figures in the world of veterinary medicine, equestrian sport, horse racing, politics, and animal welfare as well as HRH Princess Anne. The theme of the conference this year was Changing Times. Essentially how change- both good and bad, is continuing at a meteoric rate and what the future for equine welfare might hold.

 

The day was opened by Michael Baines, Chairman of the World Horse Welfare who had recently visited some of their projects in Cape Town and Lesotho which are jointly run with several other charities based in these parts of the world as well as other international animal charities like The Brooke and The Donkey Sanctuary. “I saw firsthand how important it is to take a holistic approach to equine welfare and, to be prepared to work with multiple stakeholders to achieve the best results,”  said Michael.

 

Perhaps this is a lesson we can all take away generally when striving to improve not only our horses lives but also our own livelihoods and interests in the equestrian sphere. As equestrian sport, recreational riding and general horsemanship evolves and improves in some areas but declines and is devalued in others. The advent and reliance on social media for information and as a marketplace is both a vice and a virtue.

 

Utam Kaphle, a young professional from Nepal, spoke on the innovative work being done by Animal Nepal. As Executive Director of the charity, he has spearheaded projects to improve animal welfare in the country by working with the local communities. With the help of government institutions, Animal Nepal has helped the lives, health and education of poverty-stricken communities as well as their working animals and the large number of strays which can spread disease.

 

Four-time Olympic Dressage rider Richard Davison then gave some compelling arguments on what was wrong and right in the sport horse industry. “When we riders, in our quest for success and our competitive side gets the better of our horsemanship.” Rollkur, hyperflexion and nose pressure was a recurrent theme and he expressed the importance of more clarity in the rulebook and more scientific evidence to prove the effects of a tight noseband- more on this in our next blog.

 

The future of Gypsy Cobs was addressed by Andrea Betteridge, founder of the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association. Andrea has spent decades obtaining and recording historic information and collecting DNA from different herds to prove the heritage of the breed and its historic bloodlines. This formed the foundation for recognition of the breed by British and European governments with member registrations from over 35 countries and the authentic breed database recognised all over the world. Overbreeding has led to the “dumping” of cobs, which the so often become welfare cases. As well as establishing the breed and educating would be breeders on the implications, Andrea has prompted other initiatives such as specialised showing classes and  “Give a Cob a Job”.

 

Tim Collins, a former Tory MP talked about the perceived implications which Brexit will have on the equine world as well as the enthusiastic following and power that animal charities had at the present time. At this stage in political proceedings, no one really knows what will occur after Brexit. Although he highlighted the reality that nothing will happen quickly as it will take years for the UK to fully leave the EU. “The average time it takes to even join the EU takes a decade and for Estonia, it was 20 years,” he said, with a further warning. “Therefore the issues you care about in the horse world are going to carry on but you must not take our eye off the ball and assume that this is all going to be carried out in the next few months. There is nothing as long as the temporary arrangement. We may have to live with this for a very long time so don’t assume any arrangements can be fixed later. Bear in mind how immensely powerful those of you who care and campaign about animal welfare actually are. For example, the inflection point in the 2017 General election was when the Conservatives got on the wrong side of animal welfare on the ivory trade and fox-hunting and that lesson has been learned deeply in both the party main headquarters. One of the biggest issues amongst the young population is animal welfare, so you guys can be pushing on an open door.”

 

The next topic covered was how charities and win trust and broaden their horizons. This came from Joe Saxton who featured in the top ten of the most influential people in UK fundraising. He is also the founder of a research consultancy for charities called nfpSynergy. The main pointy to take away was that support for animal charities is well up the national order, featuring higher than charities concerning homelessness, social welfare, overseas aid, religious and environment and conservation. So we Brits remain, “a nation of animal lovers”.

 

The day was rounded off with a discussion panel between influential veterinary delegates who covered topics such as changes in culture, technology and the internet and social media- friend or foe to both horse owners and vets. Overweight riders and horses were also commented on as this is a welfare issue we all see too often at shows around the country.

 

The use of artificial aids was also addressed, where Gemma Pearson highlighted horses “limited learning capacity”. She explains: “the spur and whip refine our instructions further so we can be more precise about what we are asking. But what we need to move away from was using the whip and spur for punishment as that is what creates problems”.

 

The Chief Executive Roly Owers summed up the conference: “When we talk about making change we have to base it around common sense, around experience and around the evidence. The second point is the issue of value. The value of our reputation, the value of time, the value of trust and the value of horses.”

 

If you would like to watch the Conference in full as well as discussions from previous years, click on the link:

http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/conference

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-19

HORSE SCOUT REAL: Harry Charles

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Harry Charles is the teen sensation everyone is talking about in the world of Show Jumping. Those who rate him highly as a rider and a horseman include Performance Manager Di Lampard, Olympic Gold medalist, Nick Skelton and of course his biggest fan is his dad, Peter Charles MBE. Who also happens to be an equestrian legend in his own right. With many team appearances for both Ireland and Britain, Peter was one of the showjumpers who made history, helping Team GB to Olympic gold at London 2012.

 

2018 has been a storming year for 19-year-old Harry. Not only did he win both individual and team gold medals at the Young Rider European Championships, earlier in the year he finished third his very first Grand Prix, beating dad in the process. The dream continued when he jumped at Aachen, considered as one of the most prestigious and challenging venues in the world against all his childhood heroes. Shortly after that, he competed in the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour before making his senior team debut at the Nations Cup in Dijon. We are excited to announce that Harry will join the stellar line-up of riders at this year’s Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show. And it sounds like he is excited too…

Photo from hopedeamer1-20

“Last year, Liverpool was the first ever big show I did so for me that was really special,” says Harry who was placed in several big classes. “I had a really good year last year and to top it off, to do well at Liverpool in front of an amazing crowd and some of the best riders in the world was just amazing for me.”

 

Harry explains what riders love about the show “For an indoor arena it is a really good size. Which is good for riders and horses and for course builders too as you can build bigger jumps in there” he explains “I think the crowd love it. They are looking down on the arena so that always creates a really good atmosphere and it drives the riders on to win a class, I think.”

 

Peter, who has also jumped at the show explains what he loves about competing there. “The show brings to the North-West, a different audience and the atmosphere there is really intense. The arena is up, close and personal and I think people really appreciate the art of showjumping” he says.

 

This year the Charles family will be bringing a number of horses and both Harry and his two sisters, Sienna and Scarlett will be competing.

 

“We plan to bring the best horses we can to Liverpool and we are aiming at the big classes like the Grand Prix and the jump-off classes. So we are going to take a team of horses that can be very competitive” he says, highlighting the significance of the show in the equestrian calendar.

 

“It’s one of the few big shows we have in Great Britain and being right at the end of the year, everyone is up for it. It’s always really nice to look forward to. There is a fun atmosphere too. I don’t have any shows or horses to ride on New Years Day so I think if all goes to plan, it will be great to party too.

 

Before Liverpool, Harry is looking forward to spending a Christmas at home with all his family

“We try to have a day off riding but some days we will ride a few horses. The season in showjumping never stops so you have to keep going.”

 

Meeting Harry and Peter at home, it’s clear that their base- Heathcroft Farm, is very much a family operation. Scarlett and Sienna are following closely on their brother’s heels, each winning medals for their country at youth level. Naturally, they live, work and breathe horses and most of the time they all get on. “Me and my sisters have a few disagreements every now and again like everyone does. It’s not always about horses either” smiles Harry. “Even me and my dad, sometimes we can have different opinions on things but we all get on. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t run as smoothly as it does.”

 

“We all have a good work ethic and are usually too tired to argue!” chips in Peter, who along with his son are huge Liverpool FC fans. Peter was born and raised in Liverpool so the city is dear to his heart. “I grew up in Bootle and I have a lot of friends and family up there so it’s very personal to me to go and jump up there with my family. A lot of my wider family will come to watch”

 

Peter trains Harry on a daily basis both at home and at competitions and it is clear, he has huge respect for his father. “Dad is my trainer and of course I would consider other people but for me, I don’t think there would be anyone any better in the world.”

 

To watch Harry and a host of other great riders at the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show, you can buy tickets from: https://www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

AP McCoy on being a dad, sporting idols and why he is coming to the Liverpool International Horse Show

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The rider line-up for the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show is always a star-studded one. It’s popular with the Whitakers, Harry and Peter Charles and Scott Brash is a regular. But this year, we can expect to see the whole McCoy family there. That’s AP McCoy- perhaps one of the best known and most loved jockeys of all time, plus wife Chanelle, daughter Eve and son Archie. Horse Scout’s blogger Ellie Kelly was lucky enough to interview AP and Chanelle recently and this is what they had to say…

 

“I was told I had to be in Liverpool by the 30th December by my daughter Eve. It just shows you how things change in your life when you start getting bossed around by your eleven-year-old daughter” says twenty times Champion Jockey, AP McCoy. Now retired from National Hunt racing, despite being one of the greatest figures in sporting history, he now finds himself “being dragged to shows and mucking out ponies!”

 

Eve who is an avid young showjumper and clearly a chip off the old block will be competing in the mini-major competition, together with a number of young riders competing alongside celebrity showjumpers. The mini major will feature approx. 14 pairs of kids paired up with top professionals all in fancy dress. Previous pros that have competed in this class include the very fast GB rider Matt Sampson, John Whitaker, and the UK’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick.  The class will be the feature of the afternoon performance on Sunday 30th December.

 

“Eve is mad excited about going to Liverpool and I was told I had to be there so I’m flying back from Leopardstown especially” says AP. “She really loves competing and she’s got plenty of bottle which you can’t teach a kid. I see certain traits in her as I have- she’s not a great loser and she gets upset with herself. Even when it goes wrong or I shout at her, she comes back for more. No matter how much a parent gives their kids they can’t give them nerve and desire, that has to come from within. You can feed it and nurture it but at the end of the day it has to come from the kid.”

 

AP talks about the importance of having sporting idols and watching those riders in order to improve.  For Eve, Nick Skelton is her hero.

 

“I took her and a friend up there last year and Nick and Laura Kraut gave them a riding lesson. For her, it was the best thing ever, she was more interested in him than she was in me.”

 

“We’ve planned the Christmas around it” says an excited Chanelle. “We have no expectations, Eve does of course. But I think it’s a brilliant experience for kids to feel the pressure of the big day when they are young. It really prepares you for the later in life and when you do go into the working world, it helps if you know those emotions already.

 

“She’s very conscious of impressing her dad which is nice but we had to sack AP as an instructor because of that clash of personality” she laughs. “AP and I were very relaxed as to whether she was into ponies or not, it had to be something that came from her but she really loves it and she wants to be the best. It’s lovely that she is so ambitious. It must be in her DNA that she is not satisfied taking part, she wants to win.”

 

“Nick Skelton is her hero, she once asked me if Nick was too old for her to marry. She was so in awe of him when she went up for a lesson. She had lots of questions for him and I thought well isn’t it great that she’s got an icon like Nick rather than some social media influencer.”

 

Chanelle talks about the differing emotions she feels when watching her daughter show jump in comparison with watching AP race.

 

“Watching Eve, I feel excited. With AP it was a different emotion because with being a jump jockey, injury was very much part of the course, so you’re always worried. Watching my daughter showjumping is so enjoyable and I get quite emotional when she does well.”

 

Even though I don’t miss AP riding because I’m so grateful that he has retired in one piece and he doesn’t have any severe injuries but I think we would miss the buzz if we had nothing. Whereas now, there is not a nicer weekend for me where we load up the lorry and head off to show.

 

www.liverpoolhorseshow.com