Ellen's World

By: Horse Deals

Ellen's World
Ellen has Locarno back in competition and now wants a broodmare so she can breed her own foal

Hello again everyone. I know I said I was finishing my column, but I’ve been persuaded to carry on — not that I needed much persuasion because I enjoy talking to you. If you’d like to tell me about yourself and your horses or ask a question, write to me at Horse Deals and I’ll try to answer.

What I’d really like for Christmas is...

…a broodmare. Have I surprised you? Well, jewellery’s lovely, but it doesn’t help towards my future. My dad has done a fair bit of breeding and has a few Locarno babies around the farm, and I’d really like one of my own. I’ve been looking for a nice type of mare with plenty of blood as a wife for Locarno.

Horse I covet

The horse I’d most like to ride is Germany’s Carsten-Otto Nagel’s Corradina. She’s all you would want in a jumper, with such scope and power. She also looks easy to ride, but that could be because Carsten-Otto is such a good rider.

Christmas with the Whitakers

Christmas is a busy time for shows, with the magical Olympia just before. I then have my name down for the World Cup show in Mechelen, Belgium, which starts the day after Boxing Day, so we haven’t a big splurge planned.
Christmas Day will be spent at home with the family, but all the horses still have to fed and exercised. Most of them will be fed, mucked out and spend time on the horsewalker, but I will ride those going to Mechelen.

My groom, Anne, helps out in the morning and returns in the evening to help put them all to bed for the night.

Mum [Carole] and Dad [Steven] have booked a skiing holiday after the New Year. I’m not sure whether I’m joining them yet, but I have planned to go to a spa for some relaxation time.

Ellen's Top Tips

I am often asked how you cope with riding towards a puissance wall. For a start, it’s huge, so I make sure I have everything right. You only get one chance at that height but you mustn’t let it faze you at all. You need great confidence in your horse, but you must know the difference between being brave and just plain stupid.

I have great confidence in Ladina, even if she does buck and play around in the ring. I hopefully let her get all that out of the way early on and as I ride to the wall, I focus all the time on those bricks and getting to the other side.
I try to keep her as even as I can and I’m looking for a stride as soon as I turn towards the wall. I often spot three or four strides, but as Ladina bounces around I lose one and have to pick up another.

I aim to have three good strides before

My trainer…

… is my dad, Steven. He’s brutally honest, very knowledgeable and pushes me hard. Whatever I do, he always pushes for that bit extra. He was always there for me in my younger days, but as I’ve got older I do a lot on my own. Rather than continuous training now, he’s on hand for advice. Just having him there at the side of the ring gives me confidence and he picks up on the little things I might miss. It makes all the difference.

Coping with interviews

I don’t really think about them any more and just speak normally and answer the questions. If I thought about it, I’d probably start stuttering! In the beginning when a TV camera approached, I used to think "Oh no!" Now, I usually know the interviewer or TV presenter and they tend to interview me after I’ve gone well, so the adrenalin’s running. The best thing is to be natural. I find it’s always easier to just be myself.

Ellen's Blog

Well, I had a fabulous HOYS, but the celebrations didn’t last long. It was carry on as usual. I was soon back down to earth, as the horses entered at my next show at Aintree were new or young and needed working, as I hadn’t ridden them because of competing in Birmingham.

The work at home paid off and Royal Rose won at Aintree, our first show together.

The following weekend, I got a very rare weekend off and spent the two days down south. I visited one of my owners — Terri Wilkins — in London, as she hasn’t been able to attend shows lately due to ill health. We had fun catching up.
Then it was off to racehorse trainer Oli Cole’s birthday party with my friend Lily Gredley. I’ve known Oli a while but we’ve always met up in London or socialising. I’d never been to his place in Oxford before. It’s outstanding and I was impressed.

We had a great time and really partied, but regretted it the next day because I had a photo shoot. I had to tell the photographer to bear with me due to a raging hangover.

It’s been all go since then. I’m in Poland now for a two-week stint of shows, followed by three weeks in Germany. I a good first week in Poland, as Royal Rose won the first 1.45m class and had just four faults in the world ranking class.

Then CS Online was second in the big class on the first day and won the world ranking class. He was tops!

The best news is that Locarno is back and jumped every day. He was ring rusty and had the first fence down twice. I’ve always ridden him in a double bridle since I was 15, but I found I just couldn’t get him on the bridle here. I changed his bit to a Pelham and now he’s flying over every fence — the difference is amazing.

I’m relaxing in the lorry with a small martini as I write this. The show doesn’t start again until Thursday, so I’ll let you know how I get on next month.

Bye for now.