This week I’m chatting with very talented and hard working young dressage rider Amy Charlton. Amy is not only a very talented young dressage rider but is also a university student who is working hard, hoping to combine life as a vet with a successful future in producing horses for dressage and eventing as well as continuing to progress through the dressage levels. Read on to learn more about Amy and her horses.
Tell us a little about you and your horses
I am 19 from Staffordshire. I am currently competing in British Dressage with my horse Minne aka Vanabyt van het Kleuterhof (yes, a commentator’s worst nightmare!). She is a 16hh, 19-year-old KWPN who we have had for 6 years. We also have Corrie who is a 12.2hh pony that we got on loan 3 years ago as a companion pony for Minne and to live out his retirement with us. Alongside all the competing and riding I am also in my second year studying Veterinary Medicine at Liverpool University. I initially did a bit of eventing with Minnie and show jumped her up to 1.10m alongside the dressage. We then decided to focus more on dressage starting by doing a lot with the Pony Club, competing at the National Championships, before joining BD and BD Youth North West at the end of 2018. I guess compared to a lot of the youth dressage riders we are both fairly inexperienced in the dressage world as I always did a lot of jumping/eventing when I was younger, and Minnie has evented for most of her life until coming to us.
In 2019 we competed at BD Youth Home International placing individual 10th and team 3rd. We then went on to get individual and team 1st at Sheepgate u25 Championships. We are now competing at Elementary and training at Medium level as well as having a play with the changes.
How did horses come into your life?
We actually lived next to a stud when I was younger, so I have been surrounded by horses for pretty much all of my life. I went to riding school when I was 5 then got my first pony when I was 7 and have been riding ever since. I am very lucky that my mum is very ‘horsey’, and both my parents are incredibly supportive.
How long have you been riding?
I have been riding for 14 years.
When and where do you ride?
We don’t actually have any proper facilities to ride on at our yard but do have access to a lot of amazing hacking. This is where I do the majority of our basic schooling and it’s great for her fitness. We then try to hire an arena or have a lesson roughly every 2 weeks, but this can be more or less depending on the time of year and what competitions I have coming up. I am very lucky that my mum rides her whilst I’m at University and I come back as much as I can during term time for training and competitions. I’m also part of the University riding team which is really good for keeping me in practice too.
How did you start riding?
I started at riding school when I was 5 then got my first pony when I was 7. She was 14.2hh so definitely not the most conventional first pony but was the sweetest mare and was perfect to learn on. I then got Rolo who was actually smaller at 14hh who introduced me to the world of competing doing my first BE and taught me so much for my step up onto horses which was Minnie.
What you and your horses currently working on?
At the moment we are trying to perfect the Elementary work, really working on the quality of her paces with the aim to qualify for regionals and try for the BD Youth teams again. We are also working on Medium work with the plan to compete at that level later in the year. With Minnie being 19 I don’t want to over push her so we will just enjoy her while she’s currently working so well.
What do you love about riding?
As much as I’m an extremely competitive person so obviously love the adrenaline rush of the competing side it’s also the bond and team that we form with the horses. I also love that you never stop learning no matter what level you are at.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I would love to be a successful vet once I am qualified, but I am also sure horses will always be a big part of my life. I would love to produce a younger horse up the levels of eventing and dressage. Novice/Intermediate Eventing and Advanced/PSG Dressage would be the dream, but I will have to see where everything goes. The most important thing is to continue to enjoy what I do and improve myself as a rider.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I am incredibly lucky that I have never really struggled with nerves and have learnt how to keep myself pretty composed when competing especially with Minnie who can be quite sensitive and stressy. Obviously for big competitions etc I get some nerves but that is expected especially when you want to do well.
How do you deal with them?
I would say my biggest thing I do to keep my nerves down is make sure you’re prepared and have a plan for the day and allow yourself plenty of time. If you are stressed and rushing you are probably more likely to get nervous. When I was younger, I also used to sing my favourite song in my head in the warmup if I was feeling tense or up the centre line to help me relax and breath!
Your Top Tip
Try and find a positive out of every ride, even if it hasn’t been as successful as you wanted, use bad days to find what you need to work on. Also don’t set your goals low just because you don’t have top facilities or get to train as much as some riders, it is still possible to progress and compete at the bigger competitions.
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Lottie Fry’s Glamourdale or Laura Collett’s London 52
Who is your equestrian hero?
I really like the way Cathrine Dufour and Laura Collett ride and train
If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
There are so many people I could choose but probably Kelly Holmes, David Attenborough, Kevin Hart, the Queen and Bear Grylls. I feel that there would be so many interesting stories at that dinner.
Favourite colour horse
I have always loved a dun but obviously I am also slightly biased to the really bright bays like Minnie
Favourite horse event
I always loved the atmosphere at the Pony Club National Championships and Home International
I love pretty much all food so to choose one is so hard, but I do love a good pasta dish/Italian food.
Favourite way to relax
Watching a movie with a big blanket and lots of snacks or a nice walk in the sun.
I honestly can’t choose. I love so many films, it depends what mood I’m in.