Romney’s Trainer is Right: Dressage Can be for Everyone

Yes you can spend €15 million on a horse. Yes you can spend a little less than that but remain comfortably in the six-figure bracket. But you can also spend £2,500 on a three-year-old advertised in the Yorkshire Post small ads and end up with this:

Stephanie Croxford and Mr President score 70,750% at the FEI Grand Prix Kur at Olympia, 2010.

 

If Wishes Were Horses: Diminutive Dianas

Here’s some Pathé footage of the International Horse Show at Olympia in 1920 (spot the hydrangeas and the standard lamp shades!), the King’s Gold Cup in 1921,  opening day in 1922 (plus side-saddle) and a little showjumping. You can just make out the backdrop of Lowther Castle in this film from 1923.

And this – now, how I wish I’d found this when I was writing the book! – this is a special clip of women, girls and their horses at Olympia in 1930. “Motorcars have not driven from Eve her love for a four-footed friend.” Quite right! And my goodness, the elegance of those top-hatted ladies riding side-saddle (there’s even an arena-level shot), the smart pony carriages and the girls in their felt hats. Towards the end of the film they all don costumes from the 1860s and climb onto stage coaches. Magic.

Karen Krizanovich alerted me to this site which features a “midget handsome cab” at Olympia in the 1920s: pony up front, little girl riding inside and boy playing cabbie.

World Horse Welfare have some biographical details about their founder, Ada Cole, here, while the horse home named for her is now managed by Redwings. Dorothy Brooke is celebrated by the aid organisation she launched to save old British war horses in Cairo; the Brooke has now evolved into an international charity which uses direct aid and education to improve the working lives of the donkeys, horses and mules that sustain the economy of the developing world. There’s nothing sentimental about the fact that the health of these animals can make a critical difference to the welfare of the families that own them.  I can’t endorse them strongly enough!

This post relates to a chapter of the book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of an Equine Obsession. If you have any questions to ask about the content, please fire away in the comments. The main online index for the book is here.

If Wishes Were Horses: March of the Pink Hooves

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Pink pink pink at Olympia in 2006, although I was too mesmerised to get any good shots of the showjumping. The NYT piece by Peggy Orenstein that I mentioned in the chapter is here, and you can see photos of the horrible, “sexy” Struts pony toys on Princess Sparkle Pony’s blog. Thank you to Dominique for the photo of her Christmas pony who, disappointingly, turned out not to be a My Little Pony but a real pony after all.

This post relates to a chapter of the book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of an Equine Obsession. If you have any questions to ask about the content, please fire away in the comments. The main online index for the book is here.

Schooling Over Fences

Willy Twiston-Davies (son of trainer Nigel) has just won the Foxhunters Chase over the National fences at Aintree at age 16 with the fittingly named Baby Run. I last saw Willy in action at the 2007 Charles Owen pony racing championships at the Liverpool course, where he was riding a 13.1hh pony called Sparky Boy. He finished 3rd, and his older brother Sam – also an up and coming jock – won the 148cm race on Otterburn Lady. Checking an old Olympia programme, I now realise that the first time I saw Will in action he was riding Ulverscroft Drambuie in the Shetland Pony Grand National in 2006. Plenty of race-riding experience on a smaller scale!

Bit of an Aintree theme here, no? I wonder when we’ll see him in the National itself.