Tag Archives: young horses

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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.

 

Ben Maher & Triple X III

BEN MAHER

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

How do you think it will grow the sport?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Highlight of your career

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

https://www.gcglobalchampions.com

 

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EMILY KING

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EMILY KING

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Horse Scout advocate Emily King must be on cloud nine at the moment. The 22 year old is on winning form after claiming the Under 25 title at Bramham, has an exciting string of horses, a hot boyfriend who she is just about to move in with. And with 56,200 followers on Instagram, you could say she is pretty popular. Popular enough for her supporters to put their money where their mouth is too. After setting up a crowd-funding campaign to keep the ride on a promising young horse, some 556 people donated to reach the £40,000 required to buy him from his owner.

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This month, Emily beat off strong opposition to win the British Horse Feeds Under 25 CCI3* at Equi-Trek Bramham Horse Trials, making her the National Champion at this level. Outstandinglym, she finished on her dressage score of 25.5 with Dargun, a horse by Valiant she has produced from a youngster for owner Jane Del Missier. The pressure was on when she went into the showjumping as after second-placed Thibault Fournier from France had jumped clear, Emily and the 10 year old Dargun could not afford a pole. The crowd gasped when the pair rattled the first fence but it stayed in place and they kept their cool to complete a fabulous clear and the only rider to finish on their dressage score. Her boyfriend Sam Ecroyd joined her on the podium with a third place on Master Douglas.

 

Speaking after her round Emily about her horse “He felt amazing today! When I got on him in the warm-up, he was bucking and squealing- it helps him with his spring and attention if he’s a bit jolly. The crowd helps him rather than distracting him and the fences were quite spooky, which helps too.”

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Emily has been living at home in Sidmouth, Devon with her family all her life. She has always shared a yard with her mother, Mary King- one of the greatest event riders of all time. But this summer she will be making “the big leap” to move to Cheshire to share a yard with her boyfriend, who also events internationally and already runs an equestrian business up there.

 

Her relocation was one of the reasons the previous owner of Langford Take the Biscuit had to sell the six year old gelding, which prompted Emily’s crowdfunding campaign. All those who donated will be invited to watch “Hobby” compete, to yard-visits and also to join her on course walks. So it’s a great initiative for people who would love to be involved in a horse but do not have the money to own one. Furthermore, Emily has pledged to donate all of the horse’s future prize money to charity, the chosen one being World Horse Welfare.

Written by Ellie Kelly

Images by William Carey and Tim Wilkinson

Photo from hopedeamer1-10

HORSE SCOUT REAL: IRELAND v BRITAIN by EOIN GALLAGHER

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: IRELAND v BRITAIN  by EOIN GALLAGHER

Photo from hopedeamer1-9

Irish International Showjumper Eoin Gallagher has ridden at Grand Prix level and has been producing sports horses for 15 years. He runs a yard in the heart of Lincolnshire, which focuses on producing showjumpers and training riders. He won a training bursary with Stephen Hadley as a Junior and learnt his trade both on the Irish and the British showjumping circuit. Eoin has worked for other professionals as well as establishing his own equestrian business in both countries. Here he brings to light, the difference between the Equestrian world in the UK and Ireland.

“I came from a non horsey family in the North of Ireland but started riding at the local riding school and then the Pony Club. I first came to the UK as a junior rider but my first riding job over here was with Tim Brown. After working for Dermott Lennon back in Ireland and running my own equestrian business, I moved back to the UK to set up a yard.

In general, the equestrian world in Ireland is comprised of less professionals and it is made up more from private individuals who often have normal jobs but would produce a few horses on the side. Most of the Irish professional riders have moved abroad- to the UK, Europe or America.

What is great for a professional rider in the UK is the number of shows. You could go to a show six days a week if you wanted to. There is a greater variation of shows accommodating more levels and disciplines. In Ireland, there are not so many midweek shows, they tend to be on the weekend. This means that you go to shows every weekend where as in the UK, the midweek shows allow me to spend some time at home on weekends to train amateur riders. It is easier being closer to Central Europe too, where the CSI shows are better and there are more of them.

In the UK, the biggest thing is that there is more Equestrian population. So far more people doing it so that obviously presents more opportunities for selling horses and training riders. The weather is better too!

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The Equestrian population in the UK has it’s downsides though and could learn a few lessons from Ireland. Firstly, I think in Ireland it is a better system for producing young horses. There is a big emphasis on age classes and that is why we have so many getting to the World Young Horse Championships in Lanaken and being successful. There is a series for the young horses which runs through the spring and summer, it comprises eight two day shows for five, six and seven year olds. The five year olds don’t have to jump off and the double clears share 3150 euros. The six year old and seven year old classes do have jump offs and the total prize fund for each is 2700 euro at each show. This series is backed and promoted by Horse Sport Ireland and it has had a major impact on how the industry in Ireland has been structured over the past decade from the breeders all the way through production and finally sales. The extra prize money has meant that riders with good enough young horses have been able to produce them longer without having to sell at a younger age to earn a living. The horses then enter a different price bracket as seven year olds and inevitably returns a much higher price back to the owner and rider.

There is also a 1.50m Grand Prix series which runs for nine shows and has a prize fund of 10,000 Euro for each show. Many of these classes overlap with the Young Horse Series and the higher placed riders in the league are invited to jump the CSI***** at Dublin in August.

In the UK we have the Newcomers and Foxhunter system rather than defining a horse by it’s age, which means you have 10 year olds jumping Foxhunters alongside six years olds. It takes away from the desired progression of the Young Horse with many riders simply chasing the dream of jumping at HOYS which can sometimes come at a detrimental cost to a horse’s long term career.

In Ireland there may not be such a large Equestrian population but there is more of a “horse culture” in our heritage. You only have to look at the massive attendance to Dublin Horse Show, where many of the spectators don’t even own a horse but there is just a national interest in Equestrianism. Last year was my first time attending the British Nations Cup and I was shocked and disappointed at the lack of public attendance and support for such a prestigious class. I’ve grown up knowing that Friday at Dublin horse show was always a sell out for the Nations Cup.

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In the UK, it is different. You sometimes have new people coming in from outside the industry and they don’t always understand it in a practical sense. In some cases they are led more by litigation and blame culture and everything has to be insured. So for selling horses, it has become a really difficult market. Good horses are failing vetting’s because, vets are scared of being sued and private people are afraid to buy from what they term as “dealers”. For example, I don’t class myself as a “dealer” in the way it is construed. I produce horses professionally to sell which involves training and educating them. Often with these buyers, they are naturally suspicious and assume that because they are buying from a commercial yard, we must all be like dodgy used car salesmen. It is a difficult time for professionals like myself.

I like Irish bred horses and my current top horse Princess Leah, is Irish bred by Ard VDL Douglas. But my belief is that a good horse, is a good horse, however it is bred. I prefer a blood type horse so tend to pick modern continental bloodlines like KWPN, Belgium (BWP) and even French (SF). Heartbreaker and his sons have sired some prolific horses at top level as have Clinton, Cornet Obolensky and Kannan.”

HORSE SCOUT

“This has brought a new level of marketing and services to horse selling and promoting your Equestrian business. I like the way the website includes so much detail so you can upload lots of photos, videos and information.

It has a clean, fresh look whilst some of the others have barely changed their look over the years.

It is also managed by people who are equestrian professionals themselves and actively involved in the industry. So they understand at board level, what the demands really are”.

Photo from hopedeamer1-5

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Finding a dressage horse with Liz Diegutis

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Finding a dressage horse with Liz Diegutis

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“It’s about temperament and rideability. Breeding and looks are of secondary importance” says International Dressage rider and trainer Liz Diegutis.

Whether Liz is looking for a potential Grand Prix horse for herself or a schoolmaster for an amateur, she believes that the horse’s temperament should be top of the list.

“They need a trainable brain. A horse who likes to work makes the job much easier.” For top level sport, Liz explains that whilst they need some spirit to give them a presence, if it is “over the top” it is likely to problematic. “They need a good natural engine but they must be rideable. People blame breeding and certain bloodlines but I think this usually goes down to how well it has been trained. I have bought horses with all the talent but if they are anxious or too hot, they require a lot of patience and expertise and sometimes it never comes right.”

“The most important thing for any rider, is to look for something within you abilities. If you buy talent, then you have to be able to manage it. You must have a good feeling for it. Don’t sit on a horse and think. “I’ll learn to ride this”.”

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Liz is also wary of spectacular paces, for any level of rider. “I avoid massive paces because they often come with problems” Liz says. “Particularly when you are trying to collect a pace. Look for three good paces, they certainly don’t have to be extraordinary particularly for an amateur. I look for a good four beat walk and a natural jump in the canter. The trot can be produced and developed. In fact I have a homebred mare who perhaps didn’t have the best canter as a young horse but we have trained the pace. She is at Grand Prix now.”

Buying British is something Liz feels strongly about. “ We have some brilliant studs in the UK now who are breeding and producing some fabulous stock. There are many examples all around the country but I have been particularly impressed by Court Farm Stud, Mount St John, Caledonia Sport Horses in Scotland and the Oppenheimer’s at Headmore Stud in Hampshire.”

“I also think you can usually trust the UK sellers and breeders more than foreign sellers. I was based on the Continent for a few years and I know how it works. If you choose to go abroad, you have to know where to go and who to trust. Wherever you go I think you should always take someone with you. Preferably more experienced than yourself and ideally someone who will sit on the horse for you too and give their verdict on top.”

Liz is less fussed about bloodlines when she is buying a horse but as she breeds her own, she has a wealth of experience in the area. “I go for old, established bloodlines like De Niro and Negro and I’ve always been a fan of Sandro Hit. They have a reputation for being tricky but if you understand their brain, they can be brilliant. Of course the mare is the important bit, so you need to look at that side too. I only breed from a good mare.”

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Conformation is not a deal breaker for Liz but she does have three rules on this. “Good bone, good feet and straight limbs” she states. “The rest, like length of back I can overlook, if it gives me a good feel. Dressage horses come in all shapes and sizes, even at Grand Prix level. To be competitive I would always buy something that is attractive to the Judge but that is not just about looks.”

An over-produced horse should also be avoided. “I don’t like to see a three year old that looks like a five year old, simply because it has been over fed and over trained. This will nearly always result in issues later. As my aim is Grand Prix, if I am buying a youngster, I like something that has been slowly produced. With my homebreds, they live out rough for the first three years of their lives before they come in to be broken. Then if they are any good, I take it very slowly.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

 

Photography by Stuart Lark