Laura looks forward to Olympia and asks Britain’s other shows to treat owners properly

By: Horse Deals

Laura looks forward to Olympia and asks Britain’s other shows to treat owners properly
Laura is looking forward to the indoor season

Now we’re into the winter season in earnest, all show jumpers — professionals and weekend riders — are going to be spending a lot of time at indoor centres.

This can mean extremely long days and late nights, so in my opinion, the most important ingredient for a show is atmosphere. Of course we all want a perfect surface, lovely — preferably waterproof or indoor — stables and a restaurant serving top quality meals without having to queue. Sadly, we don’t often get all these, but a terrific atmosphere lifts you and you tend to forget those little niggles.

Take the Scope Festival for instance. People complain about the long hours, the cost of competing and the numbers in the classes, but when I ride into that fabulous indoor arena and feel the buzz, I can’t help but try to do my best.
I’m now looking forward to the highlight of the indoor season — Olympia. Last year, I suffered from flu for most of the show, so I couldn’t appreciate it like I wanted. This time, I’m determined to stay well and do "my girls" justice.

Limelight and Beluga are feeling really fresh and well at the moment. They were on top from at our local international show — the Unex Masters at Towerlands — so fingers crossed that they keep it up.

I was hoping to have an Olympia warm-up in Paris, but the date of that show has changed and it wouldn’t be fair to ask the horses to jump there and in London. Instead, we’ll be at Addington and Hartpury before taking on the best in the world.
One thing I loved about Olympia when I jumped there for the first time last year is that our owners were made to feel really special. That makes a change from many other shows in Britain, where the owners — who are the people who keep the sport going — aren’t even offered a cup of coffee or somewhere to sit down.

I used to think that normal — until I started travelling abroad and saw how owners should be treated. Most European shows have a special owners’ area, with coffee, snacks and a bar. This stays open until the end of each day’s jumping. And because most owners don’t come to a show alone, if they need an extra pass, we just have to ask.

Compare this with some British shows, where we might be given four passes for the duration to split between the grooms, the owners and ourselves. If we ask for any more, we pay through the nose. And when you consider that without owners and riders there’d be nothing for spectators to watch, charging us extra to entertain them does seem rather strange.

Another way owners are perhaps taken for granted was discussed at a riders’ meeting during HOYS. When a horse reaches grade A, the
BSJA charges an extra annual registration fee according to its winnings. This means owners of successful horses are penalised by having to pay more to register them each year and it’s little wonder they find it hard to turn down huge offers and good horses get sold abroad. Compare this with Belgium, for instance, where horses are registered once and that’s it for life.

People keep congratulating me because I’ve made it into the world’s top 100. Apart from it seeming surreal, the most satisfying fact is that I’ve done it entirely on horses I’ve produced from the start. Thanks to my husband John’s eye for a young horse, plenty of luck, some great owners and a lot of hard work, I have a wonderful team of horses and I can’t wait for 2010.

As well as Olympia, I’m looking forward to Christmas. We’re going to John’s family on Christmas Day, and then my relations are coming to us for Boxing Day. I’ll be cooking for them, which is something I really enjoy — probably because it’s so different to riding horses!

I’m not expecting loads of presents. John’s very generous and if I want anything through the year, I can have it. We believe Christmas is all about kids and making sure our son, Jack, has a great time.

Then at the beginning of January we’re off to Euro Disney as a birthday treat for Jack. I don’t know who’s more excited — Jack or his mum and dad!

Have a lovely Christmas and see you next year.