Hi, I’m Claudia, I live on my other half’s Arable Farm on the outskirts of the Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire. I spend my 9-5 working for a recycling company who take food and drink waste to land as fertiliser and look after the recommendations and compliance side of things. And when I’m finally free I love spending time outdoors. I have quite a few pets consisting of two dogs, three horses, eight ducks and five peacocks! My two old boys Caruso and Basil and enjoying a quieter life at the minute, Caruso on loan competing in low level dressage and Basil my hunter is on semi-retirement being our lawn mower! My main focus at the moment is on Timmy, my 6yo off the track Thoroughbred (Not quite the ready-made eventer I told myself I would be getting!). I’m hopefully going to produce him as my forever event horse, he’s very switched on and smart to look at, and I’m already loving the journey.
How did your horses come into your life?
My first party in primary school was at a local riding centre, I was absolutely hooked and wouldn’t stop asking my mum and dad about going for horse riding lessons afterwards. I was very lucky that even though they were not horsey parents as such, they took me weekly to lessons a few months later and would also be driving me back and forth to the stables in the years to come.
How long have you been riding?
I have had lessons since the age of 8 so for around 17 years now.
How did you start riding?
I used to have regular lessons at a riding school whilst also going down to my mum’s aunties yard at weekends to help her out. She had point-to-pointers and hunt horses and sorted me my first loan pony a cheeky spotty appaloosa called Jonny. We also had various horses through from the local markets that I used to ride; it was great experience riding lots of different types of horses from a young age.
I completed both my National Diploma and BSC in Equine Studies where I continuously worked on an event/livery yard alongside my studies. I bought Caruso whilst completing my BSC (with my student loan!) and it was with him I really caught the eventing bug, going from BE80 to BE100 within our first season.
When and where do you ride?
My horse Timmy is currently on livery only ten minutes down the road from me at a beautiful small yard. I like to hack out a few times a week, and we are very fortunate there is good bridle paths around us, or you can travel in the lorry ten to twenty minutes away and have access to brilliant off-road hacking around Bradgate Park and Beacon Hill, alongside other national parks. I’ll use our arena for flatwork sessions and to jump, as well as trying to get out in the lorry at least once a week for either a lesson or a schooling session.
In the winter I also try to hunt with our local packs when I can, we have some beautiful countryside that we are lucky to have access to alongside some challenging fences and plenty of hedge hopping.
What are you and your horses currently working on?
Pre-Covid 19 I was just a week away from Timmy’s first ODE so was putting in the final preps, a run through our dressage test, a few long hacks and a jump round. With the current situation I am concentrating on our flatwork so we can come out (hopefully!) with a competitive dressage score. I’m also doing a lot of pole work, there is lots of great inspiration on both Facebook and Instagram at the minute, which is really helping me to be able to keep a rhythm and work on tricky lines and angles that we can put into practice with jumps soon.
What do you love about riding?
I love that horses aren’t just machines; you really need to work hard to build a bond and progress, so when you do have achievements, it makes your time and effort really rewarding.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I’ve always wanted to do a three-day event so will definitely be working over the next few years with Timmy to get to that stage, I’d love to compete at the badminton grass roots but would also welcome our first CCI*. As he is an ex race-horse I’m also aiming to be placed in the ROR leagues, which may be either unaffiliated or with BE.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
In the more recent years I nearly always definitely get nerves when it comes to competition day. Part of it is your general butterflies, but more recently alongside worrying about if you have a bad round how others will view your riding.
How do you deal with them?
Once I realised this was negatively impacting my riding, I started getting regular lessons again. My instructor Izzy Laurence is fab, she makes it all fun, constantly tells me to stop overthinking and doesn’t push you unless she feels it’s right. I just make sure to tell myself I do this because I enjoy it so go out and have fun, not to win, but focus on your own mini goals and it’s a bonus if you do well and end up in the ribbons. It has also really helped that Timmy is a blank canvas, so I am not putting any unrealistic expectations on myself, taking it all slowly and just waiting to see how we get on.
Your Top Tip
Always make sure you have a spare pair of competition clothes in your lorry! After getting all the way to Broadway and forgetting all my competition clothing, it was safe to say it was the most expensive event I had been too and would not be doing that again for a very long time!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Ballaghmor Class, alongside winning many events and titles he just looks like a real honest fun horse that you would happily trust to take you round a cross country course.
Who is your equestrian hero?
I would have to say Piggy French, I loved watching her season unfold last year and it was great to see her hard-work paying off.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
The Queen – because who wouldn’t want to dine with queenie, Lewis Capaldi and Michael Whitehall both for comedy value, and from the equestrian side both Piggy French and Pippa Funnell to get some top tips from!
Favourite colour horse?
I always used to want a grey! But after owning Basil I would say it would probably be chestnut, he goes a lovely peachy colour when he’s clipped and his coat always lovely and bright.
Favourite horse event
To compete at would be Norton Disney in Lincolnshire. It’s relatively local to us and the courses are always inviting and dressed well, with a range of heights from BE80 – Novice. They run at the start and end of the season so it’s really good event to start or finish the season on a good note, or if your looking for a course to step up at.
Pizza! Our local pub “The Horse” serves the best stone baked pizza’s which we can also take-away, and we are just in the process of getting our own stone baked pizza oven put up in the garden which I can’t wait to try.
Favourite way to relax
I find it hard to relax as I’ve always got a list of jobs I want to do, so find my down time is generally when I am at the stables and riding just taking my time. But I do enjoy a good holiday where you can sunbathe for hours by the pool or on the beach – not that they happen very often!
Tough one! I must confess I am a big Harry Potter fan, with my favourite probably being the Goblet of Fire. Otherwise it would have to be the Greatest Showman – I’m not normally a fan of musicals but you can’t help belt out the tunes when they come on with this one.