Tag Archives: showjumping

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Mexican Young Guns take Nations Cup glory

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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

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

 

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BEHIND THE SCENES: GRIT, GLAMOUR AND GREAT SPORT AT THE LONGINES FEI NATIONS CUP FINAL BARCELONA 2018

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I was lucky enough to be reporting at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final In Barcelona last week. Not only was there great sporting action, a masterful display of horsemanship and a tantalising finish. Beyond this, there were some high profile individuals and interesting back-stories that really highlighted what a special sport this is.

 

Having breakfast in the hotel one morning I was sat next to Jessica Springsteen. The drop-dead gorgeous daughter of Bruce was looking very much in love with boyfriend, Italian heartthrob Lorenzo de Luca, as she ate her boiled egg.  Lorenzo was later caught buying his girl a present in the shopping village.

 

Across the room was World No 1, Harrie with the rest of the Dutch team and World No 2 Mclain Ward, fresh from winning team gold at WEG. Mclain was over to train 19-year-old showjumping sensation; Lucy Deslauriers who was making her first big team appearance for the USA. Extraordinarily Lucy’s father Mario was also competing but for his homeland of Canada. Now 53 years of age, Mario was the youngest ever winner of a World Cup Final at the age of 19 and he and his daughter could make headlines if they both achieve their dreams of being selected for the Tokyo Olympics, for their respective Nations.

 

Also competing at the show were the UAE team who are rising stars. After a fascinating interview, I discovered every one of them has a full-time job and compete just a handful of horses alongside this. Jobs included a policeman, an office administrator and a camel trainer.  “Football is the only professional sport but we are trying to change that” I was told.

 

“Never give up” was the take away message from this year’s prestigious competition. Held in the popular Real Club de Polo in Barcelona for the sixth year in a row, it was the Belgians who won the oldest jumping competition in the world and lifted the Nations Cup trophy. But it was by no means decisive and Peter Weinberg, Chef d’Equipe of the team summed up the result and in that, the very nature of equestrian sport. “We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because in the middle we had two with 12 faults already but still we were fighting to the last rider, so this victory means a lot to us!”

 

With one of the most challenging tracks this final has seen, of the eight nations who went through to the final, just three riders jumped clear. It is hardly surprising that Course Designer Santiago Varela has been selected as course designer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The track was imposing and technical and questioned control, balance, judgement and skill, all the way around. As Varela pointed out it wasn’t about the number of faults the riders collected. “A score of 8 or 12 didn’t mean they had a bad round, horses jumped unbelievably, but the course was difficult, tough and big…and everything was connected”, he explained.

 

As was the case with most of the teams, the Belgians had mixed fortunes, Niels Bruynseels gave the team confidence with a superb clear from Gancia de Muze but both Pieter Devos (Claire Z) and Jos Verlooy (Caracas) each leaving three fences on the floor. However, it was the dashing Nicola Philippaerts, who saved the day with a sublime clear round on H&M Harley v. Bisschop and that sealed the deal.

 

Nicola said his teammates told him “everything is still possible” when he was last to go. “I just tried to ride my own class and it worked out well – today it was me that could make the clear round that would make a difference, and another time it will be one of the others”. And he had even more reason to be pleased when sharing the €100,000 bonus for double-clear performances with team-mate Bruynseels, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Italy’s new star, Riccardo Pisani.

 

This was Belgium’s second win of the Longines FEI Nations Cup in Barcelona; their last came in 2015. As Chef d’Equipe Weinberg said: “it was an interesting day, first ups and then in between downs, but in the end, we won anyway so it was really great sport!”

 

 

 

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-14

NIGEL COUPE- The win that made me

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Until last year Nigel Coupe was a name that had not been heard on the international showjumping scene for some time. It was at Hickstead that together with Golvers Hill, a horse bought for showing, Nigel reminded the world of his talents, by winning The Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead, one of the most iconic showjumping events. Since then he won Cock of the North and the Horse of the Year Show Grand Prix plus the Leading Rider award. “I’ve had a good spell since the Derby” he says humbly.

 

“Winning the Derby was amazing. I’ve grown up watching it, so to win it was a bit of a dream. It all seems a long time ago now but coming here as defending champion and seeing myself in the Hickstead magazine from last year, brings it all back” he says on the eve of this year’s Hickstead Derby.

 

Nigel is now 47 years old but first entered The Derby 28 years ago. Although he competed at Hickstead as a boy on 12.2hhs, so the historic venue is a special place for him. He took a 10 year break from riding in The Derby until 2015, when he finally had a horse suitable. The Irish bred Golvers Hill (aka Ricky) who Nigel half owns, was bought by his other owner as a four year old and started life as a Working Hunters. “We got to the stage that he couldn’t do both and I always rated the horse as a jumper so we decided to concentrate on the jumping. He’s my best horse now” Nigel says of the 15 year old. Ricky who is by Ricardo Z out of a Clover Hill mare, has been consistent on all his three Derby attempts. Finishing second on his first attempt in 2015 and fifth in 2016 before the big win.

 

So what makes a perfect Derby horse? “They need to be brave and careful. Definitely not spooky and not afraid to take something on. Irish horses are notoriously good at the Derby and I think they often last a bit longer than some of the others” he believes. “In the old days people jumped their best horses in The Derby, now they go for the bigger prize money in the Global Champions Tour. Then again some horses would not suit the small GCT arenas, like at Monte Carlo which is on the same weekend, just as Hickstead suits certain horses more than others.”

 

With an experienced horse like Ricky, Nigel would not do much specific training for The Derby. “I practice more when they are younger and definitely when they do their first Derby. With a more experienced horse, they know what to expect so you don’t need to train so hard. But I do jump through a Dyke a few times and practice some ditches.”

 

Nigel runs a 50 box commercial yard in Prescott, Lancashire. Like most professionals, he has to make a living from training and livery as well as producing and selling horses. “Unfortunately I don’t have 5 Grand Prix horses to win big prize money on and decent horses fetch good money, so it’s a balancing act.”

 

Last year’s Derby success has been life-changing for Nigel, who has been knocking on the door of international stardom for many years. He has made several appearances on Nations Cup Teams and was a mainstay on the British youth teams winning several medals at Junior and Young Rider level.

“Winning the Derby did open up new opportunities and I have had new owners come on board and sponsors approach me. It increases your profile and has definitely brought me more of a following on social media.”

 

And the dream… “I try not to have dreams but in the long-term I want to build up a better string of horses and keep enjoying it. In the short term? I want to win The Derby again tomorrow” he smiles.

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Andrew Hoy: Fatherhood has given me a new lease of life On flying form at The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show

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“I’ve had a new lease of life since becoming a father” said Andrew Hoy after winning the Eventing Grand Prix at Bolesworth  International Horse Show. This fiercely competitive pairs competition, sponsored by Cazenove Capital involves showjumpers and eventers joining forces in a thrilling dual sport competition. Andrew’s showjumping partner was Beth Vernon, who left all the rails up in in one of the fastest time, before Andrew completed a short course of arena cross-country fences on to three show jumps to finish. The competition attracted a number of prolific showjumpers and eventers including Chris Burton, Tom McEwen, Alex Hua Tian, Matthew Sampson, Joe Clayton and Harriet Nuttall.

 

Andrew a seven time Olympian, belied his 59 years by storming around the challenging course in the fastest clean round, on Cheeky Calimbo, the horse he has ridden at four star level. “He’s cheeky by name and cheeky by nature” he said after his round, with his 10 month old daughter Philippa sitting on his lap. “I picked him for this class as he is a great jumper and I know him so well. It was a really exciting competition but it was really difficult having to show jump at the end after you have galloped across-country.”

 

Having won four Olympic medal- three gold and one silver, Andrew is one of the most successful event riders of all time. Yet we have not seen as much of the Australian rider at top level in recent years. He explained that he has been quietly working away in the background, producing some new horses. “I have a maximum of 15 horses now and a new generation of horses coming through.”

 

There is one in particular that he is excited about. A nine year old called Vassily de Lassos, who he bought from French International rider, Thomas Carlisle. “I’ve only had him 12 months and when Tom told me about him, he explained that he needed a pony (for company) and was a weaver, so I wasn’t particularly keen.” When Andrew sat on him, he still wasn’t particularly impressed. “But I kept looking at his record which was exceptional. Since 2013, he has only had one showjumping rail in FEI events.”

 

Andrew views him as a horse for the World Equestrian Games later this year and is hoping to run him at Aachen this summer to impress selectors. The impressive French bred horse is by the prolific stallion Jaguar Mail and finished 8th at Blenheim CIC 3* for 8 and 9 year olds. “I couldn’t be more excited for the future with this truly once in a lifetime horse” he said.

 

So no sign of hanging up his legendary boots any time soon then.  “I might be getting older but I am enjoying eventing even more” he smiled.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Horse Scout Real: Yazmin Pinchen

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Horse Scout Real: Yazmin Pinchen

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In our first edition of “Horse Scout Real”, Horse Scout Advocate Yazmin Pinchen reveals the trials and joys of motherhood; her Olympic dreams and the reasons why she would never date a showjumper.

 

At the age of 24, Yazmin Pinchen has achieved more than many women double her age. By 14 years she had won team gold and individual silver at the Children on Horses, European Championships. As a teenager, she quickly scaled the ranks of Senior showjumping and at 18, she moved to Belgium and based herself with Ludo Philippaerts. She was competing at 5* level and in Global Champions Tour competitions, all before the age of 20 and after winning several Grand Prix, Yazmin impressed the selectors enough to be selected for British Nations Cup teams. So far Yasmin says the highlight of her career was beating Scott Brash and other showjumping stars, to take the Bolesworth Grand Prix in 2016.

 

At just 22 years the world was at her feet: a serious string of horsepower, some great sponsorship and enjoying the demanding but jet set lifestyle showjumpers are now accustomed to. After dating showjumpers in the circuit including Joe Clayton, she had rekindled a flame with her childhood sweetheart Nick. Soon after, Yasmin fell pregnant. “My career was going really well and my best horses were in the peak of their careers so in hindsight it wasn’t ideal” she says with a smile. “But you take what life throws at you and I would never get rid of a baby. As soon as I had Harry, I was so thrilled and realised it was the best thing ever. Showjumping and horses can be so intense and I really love being a mum.” she says.

 

Harry is now one and Yazmin reveals it has been hard juggling motherhood with riding and getting back to top level. “It has been tough. I don’t have anything like the horsepower now and I have been out of it at top level for two years. You don’t realise how good you have it in life, until it is gone. I had a full yard with 11 horses in work, lots of staff and horses competing every week. You get a taste for the big shows and the excitement. Now it’s just seven horses, my groom Marie, me and Harry. I wanted to go on the Sunshine Tour but didn’t feel I could take Harry away from his dad for five weeks. But on the other side, I feel there are advantages to being a young mum. I can get it out the way and then get back to my life and my career. It’s also probably easier to get back into shape.”

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Yazmin and Nick first met when they were 16 and living next door to each other. “He was my first boyfriend” she says. After several years apart, where Yazmin dated mostly showjumpers, they bumped into each other again and the romance blossomed quickly. “Nick is an electrician and not all horsey. He isn’t that interested apart from watching me which has it’s challenges but actually it’s great. He is normal and I come from a very normal background, where we all do normal, everyday things and have interests outside of horses. I think that has always helped give me a more balanced perspective.”

 

So what is it like dating a showjumper? “Oh I will 100% never date a showjumper again” she laughs. “I don’t want to end up with a broken heart for starters and the lifestyle is crazy. You can end up being a lamb following your partner around at shows. I could never have taken a back seat, I would have been far too jealous of missing out. In fact, a lot of my girl friends who are with showjumpers, say they can feel quite lonely at times” she says.

 

A typical day for Yazmin involves feeding her son and then getting to the yard for about 8.30 to start riding. “Harry has a nap at about 10am which is perfect timing. My groom Marie is amazing and can often be seen walking up and down pushing the pram with one hand and a wheelbarrow with the other. I ride until about 1pm and then do a bit of teaching but I try to have most of the afternoon to spend with Harry which I love, we go swimming and do normal things that mums do with kids and I feel so lucky that I have time to do this as so many mums have to get straight back to work. It is important for me to do my best as a mum.” There is not much time for hobbies but Yazmin loves cooking and watching cookery shows. “I have watched all the international Masterchef’s and I enjoy it so much that I’ve asked for a cookery course for my birthday.”

 

Despite her emphasis on leading a “normal life”, do not be fooled into assuming Yazmin Pinchen has lost her burning desire to win. In fact quite the contrary. “Having a baby has made me want it more and pushed me on. Not just because I want to get back and compete at top level but because I want to make a living out of it to do the best for my son. I was riding three weeks after giving birth and won a big class at Hickstead when I was five months pregnant and I can’t wait to tell Harry that. I want to make him proud and I’m certainly planning to get to the Olympics one day. That is my big goal”.

 

“I am looking forwards to getting out there with some young horses and finding new sponsors and owners and I think Horse Scout can help this. They approached me about working together and when I looked at their website, I was really impressed. There are so many contacts on it and with that sort of database, not only can I find other professional services in my area but by creating my profile, it should be a good way of finding owners. Horse Scout is so forward thinking and could be the place where people find riders for their horses as well as things like physios. I am very keen to do more with them.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Queen at Windsor

A right Royal affair

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A right Royal affair

Queen at Windsor

Royal Windsor Horse Show, 9-13th May 2018

With Prince Harry getting married and Zara Tindall and Kate Middleton expecting, the Royal family are giving us plenty to celebrate and feel patriotic about.

 

Another Royal occasion of note is the 75th edition of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, held in the private grounds of Windsor Castle from the 9th-13th of May this year. It is an event which Her Majesty, The Queen has attended every year since its creation, in 1943.

 

Today it has become a 5* show and holds the distinguished CHI status, making it one of the most important events in the equestrian calendar. Royal Windsor Horse Show is the only show in the UK to host international competitions in Show Jumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance. In addition, there are 120 showing classes held over five days.

 

The riders love it too. Even Kent Farrington, current World No 1 Show Jumper said, “This is one of my favourite shows. There’s a combination of an amazing setting, an unbelievable crowd, top course designing and great footing It’s on par with the best in the world.”

 

Royal Windsor was started as a fund raising event during World War II as part of “Wings for Victory Week”, to raise money for Spitfire fighter planes. Over the 75 years the Show has maintained its objective to raise funds for charity. ABF, The Soldiers Charity is supported every year and an equestrian charity is chosen to support by the Committee annually. This year the equestrian charity is the Free Spirit Horse Memorial.

 

The original Show, which required competitors to hack to the Showground as there was no petrol to spare, was held on just one day. Since 1944 the Show has expanded dramatically in terms of length, spectator attendance and competitors. One of the first competitors was HM The Queen who successfully competed in the Single Private Driving Class driving Hans, a Norwegian Pony, to victory in 1944. Other members of the Royal family have also competed including HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Princess Royal, Zara Phillips, and most notably, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. It was the Duke who introduced international carriage driving to the Show in 1972, in which he also competed. He went on to win the Horse Teams class in 1982 with HM The Queen’s team of Bays.

 

Such was its popularity with equestrians and the public alike, that Royal Windsor evolved into a major international event. Last year there were 3,300 entries, including many of the world’s best riders, compared to 884 entries in 1950.

 

There will be some serious show jumping action up to CSI 5* level. This together with a large prize fund, is likely to entice the crème de la crème of the show jumping world. Held in the Castle Arena from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th of May, including a Saturday evening performance with the climax of it all- The Rolex Grand Prix will be taking place on the final day. World No.1 and last year’s Grand Prix champion Kent Farrington, is hoping to return to defend his title.

 

The International Dressage is expected to attract some of the world’s leading horse and rider combinations. The CDI4* Al Shira’aa Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music will take place on the evenings of Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of May respectively. Riders will have the unique opportunity to be judged by Susan Hoevenaars, one of the judges at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018, an unmissable chance for hopefuls heading to the Games this September.

 

The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier and one of the most important Driving events in the UK adds to the roster of top international competition at the Show. 2017 saw Boyd Exell score an impressive eighth victory at the Show, and the Australian is certain to be looking to retain his title as part of his FEI World Equestrian Games™ build-up.

 

The visually stunning Windsor Great Park will be the site of the international Endurance on Friday 11 May. A CEI2* event, supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain will negotiate 120km of the countryside of Windsor and Ascot.

 

A huge variety of Showing classes will also share the schedule with the FEI classes, with many of HM The Queen’s horses regularly featuring in the starting line-ups, Royal Windsor Horse Show represents the height of the National Showing calendar. Competitors will be striving to follow in the footsteps of HM The Queen’s Barbers Shop to be crowned Royal Windsor Supreme Showing Champion on the final day of the Show.

 

Spectators can also be entertained by an action-packed schedule of arena displays and other events. Beyond sport, there are 220 high-end shops in the shopping village offering fashion, equestrian and lifestyle goods. Plus a host of food options and watering holes, from artisan food and champagne bars to burgers and beer.

 

Or to book tickets visit www.rwhs.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally

Written by Ellie Kelly

Horse Scout catches up with showjumper Zoe Smith

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Horse Scout selected 19-year old Zoe Smith to become one of our sponsored riders, out of a huge number of talented young showjumpers on the AASE programme. Zoe is an International showjumper based in Lincolnshire and is certainly one to watch.

 

Hi Zoe, great to catch up with you since completing the AASE programme. How’s it all been going?
It has all been going really well, the horses are really benefiting from a much more structured yard and work scheme that was introduced to us at AASE.

How’s your season going so far?
The season has been going very well so far, both my young horse and top horse have come out of the winter premiers jumping very well. This lead nicely into our first international trip to Belgium where we picked up lots of placings in the U25 and 6yo tours.

It sounds like you’ve got off to a great start this Spring. Can you tell us a bit about the horses are you competing this season?
This season I have two main horses to compete;
The first is Que Sera III, 9yo gelding, by Caretino Glory out of a Goodtimes mare. He is quickly progressing up through the ranks, after starting at Newcomers level with us just over a year ago, he is now jumping 2* world ranking classes and double clears and placings at 1m40.

The second horse in my string is Garcia Lente a 6yo by Bodinus out of a Holland mare. He very quickly showed his class this year winning at the winter premiers, picking up numerous placings in Belgium and recently jumping double clear every day at Chepstow international. I’m very excited about this horse’s future, he could be very, very special!

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We noticed on social media that you were posting from Chepstow International recently, tell us about the show…
The show is the first international jumping competing of the year in the UK, it attracts many of Britain’s top riders such as Peter Charles, Keith Shore, Nigel Coupe, as well as American riders Julie Welles and Emma Heise.

The show ran over 5 days with three different heights at 2* level, two heights at 1* and then a 5yo and 6yo international tour with a Grand Prix for each respective tour. A 6yo class is typically around 1m25 and a 6yo Grand Prix is 1m30.
The competition is also used as a youth team trial so the selectors were also attending.

No pressure then! What did you get up to there, when you weren’t riding? If you’re staying over, are there parties or do you opt for an early night?
On the first night, there was a champagne reception to welcome everybody to the show and to give the sponsors and owners of the showground a chance to talk to the riders and their supporters. As this was the first international show of the year it was packed to the rafters! When not competing, most of the time was spent helping and supporting some of my friends with their horses and watching the other classes and riders.

We saw that you did brilliantly throughout the show; how did you choose which classes to enter and how did it go…
I was fortunate enough to jump the biggest of the 2* tours on Que Sera III picking up double clears and placings, leading on to our first world ranking class grand prix on the last day just picking up a couple of poles.

My super consistent 6yo picked up two equal firsts, a 4th in the accumulator and then 3rd in the Grand Prix.

For the international classes, you get to choose which height you would like to jump from the classes on offer the afternoon before, I really like this system as it gives you freedom to set your horse up for the grand prix in the best possible way that suits your horse. It also means that if a certain type of competition doesn’t suit a particular horse such as an accumulator/speed class, then you can jump a different height that day or give them a day off.

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OK so what next – more UK competitions to come or will you be overseas again?
I think we will be staying in the UK for a little while now to contend second round Newcomers and Foxhunter as well as talent seeker HOYS qualifiers. County shows are also starting up so there are more shows available to us these days. I’m also looking to take on a couple of young horses to bring on and build up my string. I am hoping to get back overseas again at the end of summer, as I feel both myself and the horses improved and benefited from the experience.

That sounds like a good plan and you’ve got loads to aim for. Finally, what are your goals for this season and are your horses currently on track?
After the year started a lot better than I ever anticipated, I think it’s time for me to create some new goals as a few of them have already been achieved! But the horses are definitely on track to achieve their individual goals for the season, including the upcoming second rounds and international shows, as well as my top horse almost having enough points to make him Grade B so he can contend for the bigger titles next year and this coming winter season.

Great job Zoe, we are proud to be supporting you and look forward to hearing how the rest of your season goes!

PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

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Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

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The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

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Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

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Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

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Arkol Harthill Stud

AES Jumping Stallion: Arkol for Harthill Stud

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Arkol by Argentinus  AES jumping stallion carrying the torch for Harthill Stud producing modern performance athletes.

Harthill Studs’ stallion Arkol is setting breeders alight, this trail blazing modern and successful performance stallion.

Arkol is a son of Argentinus – also the sire of Nick Skelton’s former top ride, Arko lll – Arkol is known for his trainable attitude and athletic ability, already making a name for himself on the showjumping circuit.

Arkol has been competed by William Whitaker, one of the top professionals listed on the Horse Scout website, who likes the ride he gives so much he tweets about it when he visits Harthill Stud to ride him!

Arkol has been much admired since winning the 4 year old class at The British Showjumping National Championship at the Scope Festival in 2011.  He has since consistently won 5 year old classes at Arena UK, Adoldington and Scope. In 2013, Arkol has had three wins in the Six Year Old Tour in Valencia.

Arkol is now jumping 1.45m classes in the 7 year old series. The British Stallion Event at Harptbury was the first stallion parade attended by Harthill Stud’s young show jumping stallion Arkol made easy work of the up to height jumps William Whitaker displayed him over.

Nina Barbour said of Arkol: “Again, all that we say about him was displayed with his very good attitude, scope and quality. William is looking forward to producing Arkol on the International circuit further in 2015, and has no concerns that he will be restricted in anyway when his time comes to jump the biggest classes in the sport.”

Arkol, by Argentinus is a type hard to find, bringing a superb temperament alongside the quality needed to put on most jumping mares being covered to produce a modern athlete. Arkol’s Sire – Argentinus – prolific sire of world class sports horses, both in dressage and jumping. Including the infamous Arko III, who also passes on his talent through his progeny – this is seen in Argento and Air Jordan Z to name but two.

Arkol’s Dam is Kolibri who has 16 approved sons and more than 60 state premium mares.


Click here to view this jumping stallion on Horse Scout

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