This week I’m chatting with the hugely talented Fenella Quinn; Irish / Scottish International Dressage Rider based in Aberdeen in the North East of Scotland. Fenella has a brilliant future ahead and we look forward to following her journey.
Tell us a little about you and your horses
I’m a (nearly) 27-year old dressage rider based in the North East of Scotland. I’ve competed to Inter II and International Small Tour level for Ireland. I’ve won 3 regional titles, placed top 10 at nationals and won at British Premier League.
As of right now I ride 6-8 horses a day, ranging from 4-year olds, to my top horse who is nearly ready for GP. They’re all owned by my mum Jacqui Ross and myself.
My main rides are Creatzo (Johnny) a 14 year old gelding by Johnson, Ghita Fille de Zita S (Queen G) a 10 year old mare by Lord Loxley, Dondersteen (Deedles) a 13 year old gelding by United, Monet a rising 4 year old gelding by Don Deluxe, Der Kleine Lord (Stefan) a 7 year old gelding by Diamond Hit and Mambo ChaChaCha (Mambo) a rising 4 year old stallion by Daily Diamond.
How did horses come into your life?
I was born horsey mad! Despite my mums best efforts to keep me away (she’d grown up horse crazy too although never had her own) I used to beg to be taken to the local fields where some riding school horses were kept to pat them.
How long have you been riding?
About 22 years. I did a bit of everything including showjumping and showing before deciding to focus solely on dressage at age 19, about 8 years ago.
When and where do you ride?
I ride 5-6 days a week at my private yard here in Aberdeen. When possible I take a Saturday and or Sunday off to spend with my family.
How did you start riding?
When I was 5 mum took me for walkies at the local riding school, then I had lessons there for a few years before getting my first pony just before my 9th birthday.
What you and your horses currently working on?
My top horse is very nearly ready for Grand Prix so we are working on piecing the test together and making sure we can do it all in sequence! With the youngsters I’m working on getting them strong with lots of hacking and pole work and the others are all working towards new levels for when completions resume.
What do you love about riding?
The horses! There’s something so special about putting your trust in an animal of that size and them putting their trust in you to do these tricky things we ask of them. When you have that great bond with them it’s unlike any other feeling.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I’d love to be riding International GP and keep working with all the lovely horses I ride to produce them up the levels.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Oh yes! In 2015 I had a bad fall where I broke my back in 2 places and had to have major spinal surgery. It meant 7 months out of the saddle and all the time in the world to think about what happened. When I first got back on I was a nervous wreck and whilst I’ve come a long way since then the nerves do rear their ugly head on a semi regular basis.
How do you deal with them?
Initially I had hypnotherapy which was a great help at the time. It gave me some techniques to use when I got nervous. In the last year or so I’ve been working with a wonderful sports psychologist who helps me a lot! I also try to rationalise the situation I’m worried about and remember that I can cope with most things if I stay calm.
Your Top Tip
Don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go to plan. We can make all the plans in the world but horses are horses and sometimes (often) things don’t work out exactly as you’d hoped. Whether that’s a daily schooling session, a lesson or competition try not to get disheartened if you have to change your plans. There’s always another day!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Totilas was a horse unlike any other, Utopia made me cry at the London Olympics and Unee BB was the horse that made me sure I wanted to ride at GP one day.
Who is your equestrian hero?
I find it hard to pick one. Carl Hester is a legend but I also love everything about Jessica von Bredow – Werndl – her love for her horses, the way she rides and her whole attitude towards the sport.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
David Attenborough, Pink the singer, Isabell Werth, my mum & Tom Hanks.
Favourite colour horse?
I adore grey horses.
Favourite horse event
Somerford Premier League to compete in and Jumping Amsterdam to visit.
Favourite way to relax
Reading a book curled up by the fire with my dogs.
The Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump or The Greatest Showman!
If you enjoyed meeting Fenella you might like to view more chatting with interviews here You can keep up with Fenella’s’’s progress on her instagram page @fenellaquinndressage