Tag Archives: Laura Renwick

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

Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick

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Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick has retained her position of leading British female rider for a number of years. She is certainly one of the busiest riders on the circuit and admits to sometimes competing more than 10 horses in a day. Perhaps surprisingly, Laura only started competing seriously at 26.  We caught up with the 44 year old at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show, to hear her story and find out what the season holds.

 

“I’ve got two top horses. Top Dollar VI has more ability than he has ever going to need but the rideability is always going to be a bit iffy so I have ruled myself out of selection for the World Equestrian Games this year but I am looking more towards the Olympics” she explains.

“I’m a bit short on top Grand Prix horsepower but we started breeding from some of my competition mares a few years ago and they are just starting to come through. So I’ve got some really promising young ones and hopefully this time next year, some of them will have reached fruition.”

Laura is married to former elite show jumper John Renwick, who gave up the sport in 2002 to focus on supporting his wife. She juggles competing all over the world with running the equestrian business and being a mother to son, Jack.

Amazingly it wasn’t until after the birth of her son that she started to make a name for herself as a rider. For many women, having children can force competitive sport to the back seat. Quite the opposite has happened for Laura, whose sporting career really started to take off after childbirth.

Introduced to horses by her mother, who owned a riding school, Laura was successful in show jumping from the age of 11. Prophetically, she bought her first jumping pony from John, her future husband.

At the age of 18, she questioned whether she wanted to make a career out of it and gave up competing for several years. “I was lucky that my parents supported me up to 18 but then but then I had to go it alone. This sport is tough, especially for anyone starting out and trying to support themselves. At the time I thought I should try something else.

Her sabbatical included being a flight attendant for BA and living in Spain. “If I had my time again I would have stuck at show jumping because it really is in my blood. That’s why I came back to it all these years later.”

Laura returned to the sport at the age of 25. She bought a young horse, which meant starting again from the beginning. Soon after, she met her husband on the competition circuit. To begin with it was purely a business partnership but it later evolved into marriage and parenthood.

“We bought some young horses together and in the early days whilst John was still riding at the top international competitions, I was producing the young horses. These are the horses that I am still riding now so it’s all been a working progress, we’ve learnt together. I think that’s why I have such a strong bond with our horses; we know each other inside out.”

As well as her training skills and empathy with horses, Laura is renowned for her fearless, competitive spirit. On a good horse, she would be hard to beat against the clock and has won a number of Puissance competitions. She won the prestigious Olympia Puissance last year, clearing 7ft on Top Dollar VI

A combination of skill, poise and style has garnered her sponsorship and she even took part in a risqué photography shoot to promote British show jumping. “It was a laugh and done to raise the sport’s profile, but I probably wouldn’t do anything like it again.”

This year Laura was asked to be show jumping ambassador for The Brooke charity’s “Every Horse Remembered” Campaign. I’m delighted to start my official support for Brooke as an Every Horse Remembered Ambassador. I’m looking forward to representing the campaign for Brooke in the British Show jumping scene” she said. “Horses have worked side by side with people for centuries, not least in the First world War. It’s vital that we remember the sacrifice they gave.

 

In order to stay in the game at this level, she and her husband have to be commercially minded. “We breed horses, train them and sell them, even some we would like to keep. John handles most of the business side of things now. He had a lot of injuries which is why I had to up my game and focus on competing.”

“We still have to make a living from it. Prize money in showjumping has gone through the roof, compared to what it used to be but you still have to have the horsepower to be at those shows with that prize money. You need to have a pool of Grand Prix horses to compete regularly at that level and the top riders have that luxury. So until you’re in that sort of league, you do still have to make your money where you can, so our horses are always for sale.”

Laura does not seem fussed that son Jack is more interested in football. “He can ride but has no interest in competing” she says. “I enjoy taking him to football training and have told him to work hard at it so he can look after us in our old age.”

The future looks bright for Laura and she hopes to consolidate her performance next season and “just keep enjoying it” she adds. Does she dare dream of future medals and team selection? “My top horse Top Dollar is more than capable. It’s just about hitting the form at the right time” she says.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly