Tag Archives: horses

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-11 at 7.17.59 PM2

BADMINTON CROSS COUNTRY… REVISITING THE PAST

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

Welcome to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 

Wed 1st- Sun 5th May 2019

 

This week Horse Scout got a sneak peek at the cross-country course for the 70thedition of Badminton Horse Trials. “It feels like something we might have seen 25 years ago” was how Hugh Thomas described it. Big open ditches, making full use of the lips, dips, mounds, general topography and natural features of this beautiful park. This is a course that retains that “ride on your wits” cross-country feel which it has once again become famed for in recent years.

 

Eric Winter is now in his third year as course designer of Badminton and his philosophy in course design has remained the same throughout. “My aim is to put to the test, the relationship between horse and rider and the training of the horse.”

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-11 at 7.17.59 PM

The course runs clockwise around the park this year. As always, riders will start in the main arena before heading out to the Staircase fence- a sizeable log parallel down the two stone steps and a tight left turn to another log parallel. “It is an open start to the course to allow riders to get into a rhythm. Unlike last year where there were some early challenges, I didn’t want to break the rhythm early.”

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-11 at 7.18.39 PM5

Things start to get pretty serious by fence 10- The Shogun Sport Hollow. After a long gallop which could be influential before a particularly technical fence, there is a funneling pagoda to direct riders to a narrow coffin ditch which is eerily, even the shape of a coffin, and a left or right choice of chunky, narrow tree trunks out. This is where the new FEI red flag rule could come into play. Where riders will be penalized 15 penalties if the whole horse does not pass between red and white flags- so that is shoulders as well as hindquarters. A rule which has not been well received by leading riders, course designers and officials… who shall remain nameless!

 

Fence 11 and 12 is the massive KBIS Bridge over the infamous Vicarage Ditch. The double numbering allows for a two jump escape route. The next fence has been used in some form at Badminton since 1949 and this year involves the notorious bank followed by a narrow brush roll top.

 

The Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner follows. Whilst impressive to the spectator, it’s big log over gaping ditch should not cause too many problems at this level. Then on to the Hildon Water Pond at 15ab which is perhaps a little softer than previous years with a big drop in before turning to a log trough in the water. Eric describes this as a run and jump fence and a bit of a let up before another tricky part of the course. Possibly an opportunity to make up time, although Eric pointed out that in the last two years of running, not one combination of horse and rider had finished on their dressage score.

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-11 at 7.17.59 PM3

The Vicarage Ditch to the Mirage Water at 17abc and 18 is possibly one of the greatest challenges on course. An enormous right-angled corner is proceeded by an open ditch situated on a dip in the bank which will definitely unsettle some horses. Then a level four strides to another fearsome corner fence. “This is the sort of fence you would see 40 years ago- we could see all sorts of jumps over the ditch which adds to the unpredictability of the course,” Eric says.

 

There is no let up just yet and 19ab, the Nyetimber Heights involves a steep slope to an airy brush on top of a mound. Before plummeting down into the dip and up for a choice of four narrow scrubbing brush skinnies.

 

Finally, there is a course let-up fence at 20 before rider head on to three asymmetric corners in a row at the YoungMinds Brushes. YoungMinds- who help young people with mental illness and struggles is the chosen charity at this year’s event.

 

Fence 24 is an impressive affair to give riders their first taste of the infamous Badminton Lake. The jump is basically a large parallel but the design, with a pump station extending over the Lake to create a waterfall effect, which might unsettle some horses. Especially when added to the considerable crowd that always flock to the Lake. The brush fence in has been pulled back so riders land on grass before entering the Lake, then a step up and the iconic Mitsubishi pick-ups which this year have a trailer attached with dome-shaped spruce which is the part jumped by riders and horses.

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-11 at 7.17.59 PM4

The Lakeside spectators get value for money as riders double back to the Wadworth Lower Lake at 26, a triple bar approached through the water.  After an inviting hedge comes the Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close which involves a birch parallel to a birch spread corner on a right turn.

 

To avoid a flat out gallop Eric has the Eclipse Cross Chicane (29 ab), two open ditch brushes on a U bend out and in of the deer park before the HorseQuest Quarry (30 ab) looms. This is less complicated than in recent years. In over the stone wall to a drop then up and out over a second wall.

 

Even though we are nearly home, Badminton is no place for complacency and we have seen many a rider tip up in the final few fences. The Hayracks at 31ab a roll top spread to a roll top skinny, then fence 32 the Rolex Trunk which is a sculpted log.

 

Back into the arena is the Mitsubishi Final Mount at 33, a fence designed by a member of the public for a competition a few years ago, where riders jump a pair of sculpted wooden saddles.

 

As ever a good completion will be an exhilarating experience for both the old pros and especially for those whose first experience of Badminton this will be.

 

 

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-10 at 4.11.59 PM

THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL- WHO, HOW AND WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT THIS YEAR.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-10 at 4.11.58 PM3

Tuesday 12th - Friday 15th March 

 

£100,000,000- the economic impact of The Festival on the local community each year.

262,637 people attended over four days last year

£4.59 million in prize money

40,000 hospitality guests

100 helicopter movements per day

45,000 bread rolls eaten

265,000 pints of Guinness served

120,000 bottles of wine consumed

45,000  afternoon teas served

£2.35 million was withdrawn from the cash machines at the Festival last year.

£45 million spent on redeveloping Cheltenham

 

But beyond big bucks, betting, boozing and carb loading, The Cheltenham Festival presented by Magners, is a celebration of everything that is great about horseracing. It never fails to deliver sporting action that makes your heart want to explode. A clash of the best- the world’s greatest horses, jump jockeys and trainers. It will always throw up inspiring and moving tales of triumph and heartbreak. And if that is not enough to lift your heart, it also embodies the sense of occasion that we Brits do so well. The chance to flirt and flaunt and embrace the social scene, the fashion, and style. Who would have guessed twenty years ago, that tweed would become ever become sexy?

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-10 at 4.11.58 PM

Horse Scout will be there to soak up the entertainment and most importantly the sport. As ever it will be a four day spectacular, this year running from Tuesday 12thto Friday 15th March.

 

Tuesday kicks off with Champions Day and the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30pm. The headline race is the Unibet Champion Hurdle which has been won for the last two years by Buveur D’Air. The Nicky Henderson champ will be returning to defend his title again and if he wins, he will go into the hall of fame with greats like Istabraq who dominated the race from 1988-2000. The crowd will undoubtedly be behind Lalor in the Racing Post Arkle. Trained by the small-stable of Kayleigh Woollacott who has taken over from her husband, after he tragically took his own life last year.

 

Wednesday is Ladies Day. The fashionistas and socialites are out in force but for racing, it’s all about speed and stamina. The Betway Queen Mother Champions Chase is one of the most high-octane races of the entire week as the fastest two-milers in the business, cream it around a demanding Steeplechase course. All eyes will be on Altior who goes for a second win and has not been beaten in 17 starts over jumps. The RSA Novices’ Chase, at over three miles, is the test for true stayers. Whilst the Cross-Country Chase is always enthralling and perhaps commands more respect after last year’s winner, Tiger Roll went on to win at the Grand National soon after. He will be back to stake his claim this year. Perhaps trainer Gordon Elliott sees this as another dress rehearsal for the National next month.

 

The St Patrick’s Day crowd on Thursday is always a hearty one and for racing enthusiasts, it is set to be an awesome equine lineup. The Ryanair Chase, the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle, the JLT Novices’ Chase, and the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle are all Grade One races (the best) which brings out the crème de la crème of the National Hunt fraternity. Paisley Park, trained by Emma Lavelle will be the favourite for the Stayers Hurdle and another moving story if he wins for his owner Andrew Gemmell who was born blind. Plus Love Island’s Chris Hughes joins the ITV team to get involved in the banter and opinion.

 

Friday is Gold Cup Day which rounds off the week with the most coveted prize of all. The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is the race they all want to win- trainers, jockeys, owners and punters alike. Nothing beats the “Cheltenham roar” as the world’s best horses thunder up that grueling hill to the winning post, cheered on by 70,000 onlookers in the stands and many millions around the world. This year sees some legendary horses in the entries list. We will never forget that heroic battle between Native River and Might Bite last year and if all goes to plan, both horses will be running again. Let’s not forget “Presenting Percy”, considered in Ireland as the “People’s Champion”. It will also be a first Gold Cup Challenge for Bryony Frost, whose strong partnership with Frodon has seen the pair win three of her last four races. If it was to be their day, Bryony would be the first female jockey in history to win the Gold Cup.

 

If you can’t be there in body, be there in spirit by tuning into live ITV Racing, on ITV daily from Tuesday to Friday 1pm-4.30 pm. The Opening Show is on ITV4 from 9.30-10.30 am. Delivered by the BAFTA award-winning team of Ed Chamberlain and Francesca Cumani and the fun and knowledgeable crew of Oli Bell, A P McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald, Matt Chapman, Alice Plunkett, Luke Harvery and Brough Scott amongst others

 

Although if you are planning to join the fun and look “Insta ready”, don’t forget our friends at Glow & Dry. The luxury styling concierge and their experienced team will be on hand to travel to your home or hotel, offering hair and make-up to have you looking your very best.

 

Image-5

Mexican Young Guns take Nations Cup glory

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

 

In any sport when the underdog wins, it makes for great entertainment. So when the Mexican team took a decisive victory in the very first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida the press conference was a joyous affair.

 

The youthful foursome fought off some of the world’s most successful nations including the USA, Canada, and Ireland. In fact, it was the youngest two Mexican riders with the least team experience who sealed the deal with their double clear performances. These came from 23-year-old Eugenio Garza Perez riding Victer Fin DHZ and 24-year-old Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane on the athletic grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk. The other two riders played their part with low-faulted rounds from Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) on Cor Bakkar and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) riding Tino la Chapelle.

 

Tryon’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12 and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.

 

The Mexican quartet kept a cool head and clung on to their lead in the second round, which caught out a number of the world’s leading riders such as World No 2 Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden who both faulted. Fernando Martinnez Sommer commented on the technicality of the course. “The course was difficult enough, for me my horse has a very big stride so I had to go a bit steady all the time.”

 

All four riders were quick to praise their Chef d’Equipe Constant van Paesschen, not just for their Nations Cup victory but what he has delivered to Mexican showjumping during his short career so far. Stany van Paesschen had similar positive words “From when I came two years ago, I said I am going to try as much as I can to push some young riders forward. We have some great young riders but we also have some great support from professional and older riders. I think we have a great team.”

 

Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to be based in the USA, said: “Today’s result is a testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”

 

He was a member of the historic site that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2019.

 

“There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona and we intend to take it!” He said.

 

Team Israel had a great show too. Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for the second spot. The Americans looked strongest at the outset, with an extremely experienced team of Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA, and Canada were entitled to qualifying points in today’s competition, so they claimed 100, 80 and 60 points respectively.

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

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.

 

 

IMG_0684

CATCHING UP WITH A YOUTUBE STAR: THIS ESME

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

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

 

 

IMG_1037

The biggest win of my career: Longines FEI World Cup at Olympia

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

British rider William Whitaker celebrated the biggest win of his career after claiming the Longines FEI World Cup Final at Olympia yesterday. Fighting back tears he said “This is the one class I think about every day. I’ve been coming here since I was two or three years old and to actually win it is a dream come true. To us British riders, the World Cup here is like a Championship and you only get one shot at it, a year. I have been thinking about it for a while and decided if I was clear, I wouldn’t hold back in the jump-off.”

 

Riding the stallion Utamaro D Ecaussines, who he partnered at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina earlier this year, William posted the fastest clear in the jump off. “I knew I had done a good round but when I looked down at the list and it was the best riders in the world left to jump, I didn’t think it was possible.  It helps that I was on such a horse. He has such a good brain and mentality. He was nearly falling asleep in the warm-up but he just lights up and grows a hand when he gets in the arena. We’ve had loads of fantastic performances but we’ve never managed to win a Grand Prix so to win one and it be this one on homer turf, is so special.”

 

The 29 year old from Huddersfield, is of course part of showjumping’s most successful family. Both his uncles John and Michael together with his cousin Robert Whitaker were competing in the World Cup yesterday. His uncle Michael was next best Brit, finishing in 4th place. “I have memories of my uncles jumping here,” William said. “The thought of winning the World Cup was one of those things that got me out of bed in the morning.”

 

Belgian rider Karel Cox claimed second place and America’s Laura Kraut finished third. Laura was one of five female riders competing, all of whom got through to the jump off, including Britain’s Laura Renwick.

 

 

 

CHI Geneva 2018

CELEBRATING THE SPONSOR: ROLEX AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO EQUESTRIAN SPORT

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

 

 

Image-4

THE REAL WAR HORSE

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

 

11th November 2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War One. Also known as the Great War, it remains one of the largest, deadliest conflicts in history with an estimated sixteen million people dying as a direct result of the war. Whilst we remember the men and women who fell this Sunday, we might also spare a thought for the eight million horses and countless donkeys and mules who died whilst serving the war effort.

 

These animals died not just from shellfire but also suffering painful deaths from wounds, starvation, thirst, exhaustion, disease and exposure to terrible weather and appalling conditions from freezing mud on the Western Front to the oppressive heat of Tunisia, Eritrea and Burma.

 

At the start of the war, the British Army had 25,000 horses but a further 115,000 were purchased under the Horse Mobilisation Scheme. Over the course of the war, between 500 and 1000 horses were shipped to Europe every day for the British Army alone.

 

Initially, most of these horses were used as cavalry horses as they had been for thousands of years. But their vulnerability to modern machine gun and artillery fire meant their role changed to transporting troops and ammunition. At the start of the war, military vehicles were relatively new inventions and prone to problems, which meant horses and mules were more reliable, cheaper forms of transport.

 

Many of these animals were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the troops as well as the sizeable field guns. It would take six to 12 horses to pull each gun. Sources also show that Dummy horses were sometimes used to deceive the enemy into misreading the location of troops.

 

Beyond the horror of war, there was some animal welfare in place. Vets treated 2.5 million horses and two million of those recovered and returned to the battlefield. The British Army Veterinary Corp hospitals in France alone cared for 725,000 horses and successfully treated three-quarters of them. A typical equine hospital could treat 2,000 animals at any one time.

 

Well-bred horses were more likely to suffer from shell shock and be affected by the sights and sounds of battle than their less refined compatriots, who could be taught to lie down and take cover at the sound of artillery fire. Records show that one-quarter of all deaths were due to gunfire and gas; exhaustion and disease claimed the rest.

 

During the war, horse food was the single largest commodity shipped to the front by some countries, including Britain. The manufacturers of Quaker Oats put in a bid to supply army horses with cakes baked from oats and molasses, but this proposal was dismissed as too extravagant.

 

Back on the Home Front, some owners took drastic measures such as putting their animals to sleep before the army could seize them to avoid their horses facing the terrible and terrifying conditions at war. War Horses were considered of such value that is a soldier’s horse died, he was required to cut off a hoof and bring it back to his commanding officer to prove that the two had not simply become separated.

 

In a single day during the Battle of Verdun in 1916, 7,000 horses were killed by long-range shelling on both sides, including 97 killed by single shots from a French naval gun. Losses were particularly heavy among Clydesdale horses, which were used to haul guns.

 

Over the course of the Great War, Britain lost over 484,000 horses- one horse for every two men. Yet many more were left or sold off in the places they served for an even worse fate than death- a life of hard labour and torment. It was whilst living in Egypt in the 1930s that a British woman named Dorothy Brooke was struck by the number of Allied war horses and donkeys who had been sold to be workhorses in Cairo. Nearly all were emaciated, old and worn out. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (now the Daily Telegraph), exposing this reality. It moved readers so greatly that they sent her the equivalent to £20,000 in today’s money to help end the suffering of these noble beasts.

 

Within three years, Brooke had purchased five thousand ex-warhorses. Most had to be humanely put down to end their suffering but they at least ended their lives more peacefully than would otherwise have been the case. In 1934, she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys. Soon after The Brooke charity was established and has been a leading force in helping working animals and their owners in the developing world.

https://www.thebrooke.org/  #everyhorseremembered