This week I’m excited to be chatting with a talented young dressage rider with a very big future…..Louise Gallavan
Louise has just been selected for the Equestrian Team GBR Young Professionals Programme sponsored by Sport England . See what I mean about a big future?
Tell us a little about you and your horses
I am a 22-year-old dressage rider based at our livery yard in Buckinghamshire. After leaving school I studied for a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management at Hartpury College. I then stayed on at the Hartpury University campus to study for my BSc (Hons) in Equestrian Sports Science. Whilst I was studying at Hartpury, I was selected to be on their dressage academy and I also gained my full BHS Stage 3 exams.
I have an ageing Border Terrier called Freya who is my little shadow and is always with me on the yard, and I have 3 horses:
Oliver, rising 7yo, chestnut, gelding, training PSG, owned 2 ½ years
Fabergé (Fabs), rising 5yo, chestnut, gelding, training Elementary, owned 4 ½ years
Leo, rising 2yo, black, owned 1 ½ years
I really love and enjoy producing young horses, it is so rewarding seeing them develop, however you do need your brave pants and sticky jodhpurs sometimes! I am very lucky to train with David Trott who has really helped me with the youngsters and who always seems to know what I’m thinking!
How did horses come into your life?
My Grandad has ridden all of his life and my mother also rode so I have been around horses my whole life. I am very lucky that we live with my Grandad on a livery yard, so I have been able to have my own ponies and horses at home as I was growing up.
How long have you been riding?
I have always been around horses but started having proper riding lessons as soon as the local riding school would take me when I was about 6 years old. I joined our local Pony Club soon after and I started riding competitively when I got my first horse, Maverick ‘Mav’ a 15.2hh Connemara. He was very special to me and taught me so much including how to hang on and sit tight! Together we did so much from winning the MKEC 3-day event to starting my BD journey with what was then BYRDS.
When and where do you ride?
I am lucky enough to have amazing facilities at home. We have a 20 x 60 arena and great hacking. I tend to ride about 6 days a week depending on what is going on with competitions and lessons. I like to do a lot of variety with the horses work to help strengthen them and keep them happy.
How did you start riding?
I went to the local riding school as soon as I was old enough to be allowed to go. I remember her being a very scary lady who shouted at everyone a lot, but I wasn’t put off!
What you and your horses currently working on?
Oliver is currently working on canter pirouettes and work towards piaffe/passage. After winning his Petplan class at the rescheduled British Dressage National Championships at Hartpury, he is now competing Advanced Medium. He is very talented and learns everything so quickly, we have had to keep reminding ourselves of his age so as not to push him too fast.
Fabs is currently working on shoulder fore, leg yields, simple changes and variation in the paces. He made his competition debut just before we went back into lockdown and he won with over 71%. For 2021 the aim is to get him out competing more and aim at the 5-year-old classes.
They are both so much fun to ride and train as they learn so easily and try so hard for me.
What do you love about riding?
I love producing horses. The feeling you get when you teach a horse something new and they understand it is so rewarding.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
My aim is to carry on producing and coaching and then start my own competition yard. I also want to carry on with my studying and plan to do the BDCC coaching exams and BD judging exams. With my horses, my dream goal is to get to Grand Prix and be competing internationally.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding and how do you deal with them?
I have been quite lucky and not had big issues with nerves yet! At big competitions if I ever start to feel a bit nervous, I take a deep breath and remember to trust in my training and preparation. I’m very lucky that my mum is my super groom and is always there to help me. Over the years we have developed a specific routine which helps makes competing much less stressful.
Your Top Tip
Stay calm, positive and always reward your horse when you get what you want, also always be completely consistent every time you ride.
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Catherine Dufour’s horse Cassidy
Who is your equestrian hero?
The Queen, I hope to be riding in my 90’s too!!
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Favourite colour horse?
I will always have a soft spot for greys after my connie Mav, but I don’t miss the endless washing!
Favourite horse event
Olympia!! It is such a great atmosphere and so festive. The shopping makes it fab too!
I was very sick for years and at university I was finally diagnosed with coeliac disease. This means I have to follow a strict gluten free diet. It is difficult when it comes to competing or travelling as I have to take lots of food for the whole duration as it’s likely I won’t be able to find anything to eat and competition venues can never cater for me. I am a big food lover so choosing one thing is very difficult, but I do love chilli con carne!!
Favourite way to relax
Sitting on the sofa watching a film, with my boyfriend Sam, my family and dogs. It must be after the horses have been done though, otherwise I can’t sit still!