Tag Archives: International Eventing

Mark Todd

MARK TODD ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT

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He has been at the top of the sport for more than 40 years but yesterday, the legendary horseman Sir Mark Todd, announced he was hanging up his boots. He has said and done this before but this time he says it will be for good.

 

Double Olympic champion and five-time Burghley winner, Mark made the staggering announcement at the end of a Nations Cup event at Camphire in Ireland on Sunday after being part of the winning New Zealand team.

 

A supporter and brand advocate of Horse Scout since its inception, Mark competed at seven Olympics, winning six medals. He won gold at Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) riding the great Charisma and was one of the very few athletes to compete at the Olympics in two disciplines- showjumping and eventing. Mark had previously indicated a desire to compete in Tokyo next year but had concluded 40 years of competing at the highest level was long enough.

 

In addition, he claimed four Badminton Horse Trials titles alongside his five victories at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and two team world championship gold medals. He was considered as one of the greatest horsemen of all time.

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Mark was rider of the 20th century by the governing body FEI and is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most successful athletes, receiving a Knighthood. More recently, he was appointed a Land Rover Ambassador.

 

With a previously successful background in racing, he has decided to devote more time to breeding and training race horses in England, something that had become more than a passing interest after securing a training license.

 

“I had initially thought I may stay on for one more Olympic Games but since I got back into the racing my attention has been taken away,” he said. “It is not just about the competition and unless you are 110 per cent focused and driven towards that goal, you won’t succeed . . . and I certainly wasn’t. In fairness to the owners, horses and others hoping to get on the team, this was the best thing. I have been here once before but there will be no comeback this time.”

 

Mark first retired from the sport in 2000, his decision partly driven by a British tabloid newspaper sting claiming he had used cocaine in the lead-up to that year’s Sydney Olympics. He vehemently denied the report.

 

He returned to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and three years later, at 55, became the oldest winner of Badminton Horse Trials when he claimed the title on NZB Land Vision.

 

Mark explained he felt relieved to retire after considering the decision for some time and was delighted to go out on a winning note, alongside world leading team mates Tim and Jonelle Price.

 

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Some Twitter tributes:

 

Andrew Hoy: “We first met 41 years ago- it’s been a blast ever since. A happy retirement to Sir Mark Todd. One of the all time greats of our sport and rider of the 20th century. But more than anything- a dear friend and most wonderful, kind man! We will miss you! Enjoy the next chapter.”

 

Lucienne Elms CEO Horse Scout: “I first met Mark at Blenheim Horse Trials when I was 19yrs old, I can recall having posters of him on my walls as a teenager. Years later I was fortunate enough to support his professional career, via young horse acquisition and sales through Horsecsout.com, I am very grateful for his support as a Horse Scout brand advocate the past few years. He is undoubtably the most multifaceted horseman that has ever been, I hugely respect his choice to go out on a high, myself and all of the Horse Scout Team wish him every success in the next chapter!”

 

The FEI: “Bittersweet brilliance. The man. The myth. The legend. Helped New Zealand to a stunning victory in Ireland in the FEI #Eventing Nations Cup… and then stunned the equestrian world by announcing his retirement!”

 

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials: “What a legend Sir Mark Todd you are, a true friend, an inspiration and you’ve helped make Burghley so very special for so many people.”

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BADMINTON CROSS COUNTRY… REVISITING THE PAST

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: MARK TODD

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

To view Mark Todd’s profile click here.

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Ellie Kelly Horse Scout Media

Tina Cook sj

B is for Bigger, Better, Barbury

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Chris BurtonImage by Benjamin Clarke Photography

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Written by Ellie Kelly

Cover Image by Adam Dale

 

International Eventing Forum 2018

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International Eventing Forum 2018

Ellie Kelly


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A healthy turnout of eventing supporters turned out for the 2018 edition of the International Eventing Forum. An event which has been held in the UK since 2004

 

The theme for this year was “What’s the limit?”. The sport of eventing has evolved considerably in the last 20 years. Dressage technicality has taken on a new meaning and the quality of work and horsemanship required in this phase has increased radically. When Cross-country switched from long to short format, it reduced the influence of stamina but brought more emphasis on technicality and mental as well as physical agility in horse and rider. In turn, show jumping has become more demanding, requiring a greater level of training and precision than was previously the case.

 

Through a variety of topics and between four highly regarded professionals, the  big question posed at this insightful day was “how far can we actually push the boundaries in our sport to keep up with obvious performance improvements of both horse and rider”. But in a sport where amateurs compete alongside professionals, how can  we raise our game without becoming elitist and alienating the enthusiastic amateur?

 

Former International Dressage rider Sandy Phillips, is a familiar face in the judges box at many of the world’s FEI events. In eventing she judges at Three and Four star and she endeavoured to unveil what the judge is looking to see, in order to gain the higher marks.

 

With two competent demo riders in Tom Mc Ewen and Jonty Evans, Sandy put them through their paces and gave a critical commentary. Overall, her focus was on “riding the jump” with your seat and creating as big a step as your horse’s balance can cope with. “To impress the judge, Event riders need to be more confident in riding forwards in the dressage arena and use those corners as much as possible” she said.

 

Eric Winter followed with some useful tips both for riders and coaches. He worked with three young riders, all riding young and green horses. He set up a number of simple jumping exercises to emphasise what the basics of good jump training were. “Circles are the foundation for all riding. Not just in dressage but in jumping in the way that course designers put jumps on turns or curving lines. So you need to be able to ride a circle perfectly. As a rider you should have three questions when approaching the fence

1) Is your horse genuinely taking you or are you pushing it?

2) How straight are you on the line to the fence

3) Is the rhythm regular?

The rider should be focusing on this but it is up to the horse to find it’s feet at the pole if it has been correctly presented” he explained. “Repetition of an exercise produces an understanding on the horse of what is happening. Be patient with exercises to allow the horse to buy into the process and in doing so, gain confidence. Teach a horse to look for fences around corner. It is when they are surprised that they make bad decisions.”

 

After lunch, Performance Psychologist Charlie Unwin delivered his philosophy on mind management and how the mind can limit the body when under pressure. The Horse Scout advocate talked about the importance of only allowing yourself to focus on positive psychology. And how he helps rider to achieve what is known as “flow state” a level of 100% focus and concentration whilst delivering a performance. “Your thoughts have a way of sinking into your hands, your legs, your seat and the whole of your body so a lack of self- belief can be the biggest barrier to improvement and success.”

 

Charlie also discussed “Identity” to the audience. “This is the story you tell yourself about yourself. We ask ourselves “Who am I?” But you should be saying “Who do I want to be?”. The warm up arena is the biggest example of this, a place where riders often become shells of themselves. Instead riders should embody the mind beliefs and body of a World Class Rider. It is common for riders not to even consider themselves as an athlete but instead as simply an instrument to get the best out of the horse. In order to become an athlete you need to think like one as well as training and preparing like one” he said.

 

The final session was led by Frederik Bergendorff, a former international event rider and Gold medallist at the 1993 Europeans, Frederik now holds the role of Team Sweden’s Eventing Manager.

 

He worked with four star riders Imogen Murray and Ludwig Svennerstal and highlight what the basics of good jump riding really were for all levels of rider. He reinforced the importance of the warm up and quality preparation. “Your horse must be totally through from behind before you start jumping.”

 

His focus was on doing the basics better in training and he laid his principles out clearly for spectators. “Don’t go up a level or do something new in a schooling exercise unless you have mastered that one. To approach a fence you should have pace, energy and a good frame in the horse before the turn so that as you approach you can just concentrate on keeping the balance and rhythm. Being in balance means the rider should be sitting in the middle of the horse and you train balance with your seat. If you approach is correct then there should be no need to look for strides, the fence will find you. On landing from a jump, you should press the horse forward to the hand from the leg. Not only will this save seconds in the ring but it will stop him falling on the forehand.”

 

The International Eventing Forum will return to Hartpury  on the 4th of February 2019 and the speaker will be announced on http://www.internationaleventingforum.com/ soon.

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International Eventing Forum Preview

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International Eventing Forum Preview


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This goes out to all the eventing enthusiasts amongst  our thousands of members, here’s a date for your diary. That is if it’s not etched in your diary already.

When: Monday 5th February

What: The 2018 edition of the International Eventing Forum

Where: Hartpury College, Equine Centre

Once again, Hartpury College will open its state of the art facilities to eventing enthusiasts from Grassroots to 4* level. This year promises an all-star line up of riders, trainers and performance experts. There will be four key speakers throughout the day and in some cases, demonstrations involving well known riders. After each of the four sessions, there will be a chance for the audience to ask questions.

Sandy Phillips kicks off proceedings at 10 am with a focus on eventing dressage and reveals what the judge is really looking for. As a member of the US Olympic dressage team, Sandy competed in three World Championships. When she moved to England and married Captain Mark Phillips, she rode for the British team at the Europeans and the World Championships. Now she flies around the world as an FEI 3* and 4* Judge for Eventing and Fei4* Judge for dressage.

Eric Smiley will be discussing how the sport has changed and might progress in the future. Eric who competed for the Irish team and at many 4*’s, is also one of the founders of the IEF. With an FBHS after his name, he is one of the most highly qualified trainers in the eventing circle.

After lunch and a chance to network and gossip with your fellow eventing anoraks, Performance Psychologist, Charlie Unwin will take to the stage. Charlie will be highlighting the importance of mind management and explaining how we can train our minds to improve our performance, even under the pressure of a competition environment. You can discover more about what Charlie does in our blog: Mind Games.

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Frederik Bergendorff rounds off the forum, with a talk on “Preparing for the Top”. Frederik is the new Swedish Event Team manager and coach who helped his team to a bronze medal at the 2017 Europeans in Poland.

Tickets are cheaper to buy in advance but there will be some reserved for on the door. Prices start at just £45 for the whole day.

http://www.internationaleventingforum.com/2018-theme/tickets/

Written By Ellie Kelly