This week I’m chatting with the highly talented British dressage rider and coach, Jessica Gale. Jessica has represented Team GB at at European Junior and Young Rider championships and co-runs her own business along with her Mum at Froxfield Dressage Sales.
Read on to discover more about this very gifted young lady, her horses, her ambitions, and her top tips for success.
Tell us about you and your horses
I am a 26 year old dressage rider based in Hampshire, UK. I currently split my time riding my horses with co-running Froxfield Dressage Sales with my mum and my coaching too.
I’m currently competing at PSG & Inter I with Clare Heap’s Fabio V (Teddy to us) alongside the FDS horses.
How did horses come into your life?
My mum rode when she was younger but ha to give it up when life, work, kids and so on got in the way. My mum and her best friend taught me how to ride and from there the rest is history!
I did a lot of pony club, BS showjumping and eventing until I was 14 when I made the transition over to dressage. I loved the feeling the changes and improvements I could make to my horse, making the more supple, more forward, responsive and easy to ride and I loved how harmonious a picture dressage can be.
How long have you been riding?
I’ve been riding since I was about 4 so pretty much ever since I can remember. I mostly jumped until 14 when I made the transition to dressage. I started with my first horse Rebel where we did a lot of BYRDS (now BD Youth) and then I rode Neukey in my first advanced medium at the U25s Championships and was asked to the GB trials by one of the selectors who just so happened to be judging that day.
From there we won our first international and were selected for the Europeans in our first year on the GB squad. From there I was really lucky to represent GB at juniors and young riders on both Rebel and Neukey.
When and where do you ride?
I am really lucky that riding and coaching is my job and the horses are based with me at Froxfield Stud in Hampshire.
I spend my days coaching anything up to 10 riders a day, riding my horses, riding some of the FDS horses and overseeing the training of the other horses with our team of riders. We also do up to three viewings a day too so it’s usually pretty busy!
What you and your horses currently working on?
Teddy is owned by Clare Heap. He’s currently competing PSG/Inter I and we’re training the Grand Prix work at home. I’d really like him to have his first bash at GP by the end of the year.
I also have a few young horses and training liveries that are really exciting. Each and every one is making me a better rider and it’s exciting to see them progress.
What do you love about riding?
In dressage we spend many hours, weeks, months, years training our horses but that moment when suddenly everything clicks makes it all worth it. No matter if that click helps your horse trust you more, give you that feeling of suspension you’ve been trying to get it gets you a medal.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I’m really lucky that I ticked off a lot of what I wanted to do when I was really young. At the moment my main focus is on becoming the best rider and trainer I can be, training and enjoying my horses and growing FDS which is already matching so many riders with their perfect horse. I would love to get Teddy out to a Grand Prix by the end of the year and getting a couple of the young ones out. I’m also excited to keep developing my coaching, I have my BDCC Level 2 and do a lot with BD Youth riders which is a real passion of mine. I’m looking forward to getting my level 3 and possibly even doing my judges exam too.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I never used to get the jittery butterfly type nerves. Instead I used to feel really tired in the lead up to a show. It took me a long time to realise that these were still nerves too.
Now I’m really lucky that I don’t tend to suffer with nerves too much now.
How do you did you with them?
I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was competing and once I realised that I wanted to compete to make the most of the hard work and training I’d done I found the nerves went away.
When I have riders that have nerves I always suggest firstly trying to find the root of why you’re nervous, create routines that you and your horse are comfortable with and then try test riding. It’s like a dress rehearsal where you can practice exactly what you will do, how you will warm up and running through the test in a competition environment. Visualisation is also a really powerful mental tool that can be really beneficial too.
Your Top Tip
Stay present. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking about the next training session or the next competition or the next goal but sometimes just sitting and enjoying spending time with your horse, no matter what level you’re at, can remind you about why we do it all in the first place.
Down The Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
I feel like there’s always a totilas vs Valegro rivalry but to be honest I wouldn’t say no to sitting on either of them!
Who is your equestrian hero?
The master that is Carl Hester is probably my biggest hero. I don’t think there’s many people that could produce countless Grand Prix horses and countless Grand Prix riders too!
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
I love David Attenborough so he would be at the head of my table! Then probably Carl Hester, Jack Whitehall, Julie Walters and Mr Bean I think would make a great combo!
Favourite colour horse?
I’m a sucker for a ginger
Favourite horse event?
I love Olympia, or the London international now. It always signals the start of Christmas for us.
Basically any food!
Favourite way to relax?
Either a good long hack with Teddy through the fields or a good Netflix tv show with my dog
Notting hill. My mum introduced me to it when I was younger and i still love watching it now
If you enjoyed meeting Jessica you might like to view more chatting with interviews here You can keep up with Jessica’s progress and check out her instagram page here