This week I’m chatting with British international professional dressage rider and trainer , Maisie Scruton. Based at the highly respected Gestüt Bönniger dressage pony stud farm in Germany, Maisie at twenty six has already accomplished so much as a competitor representing Team GB as a talented young rider and is now helping to produce amazing medal winning dressage ponies as well as competing. Read on to discover more about Maisie, her ambitions, and top tips for success.
Tell us about you and your horses
I’m a twenty six year old professional dressage rider living and working in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. I am an ex-team Great Britain rider, having represented team GB at 4 consecutive European championships, twice on ponies and twice as a junior rider. I was subsequently selected for the World Class Podium Potential programme but sadly this was cut short due to a sudden lameness.
I currently work as a rider and trainer at Gestüt Bönniger, arguably the most successful dressage pony stud farm in the world. I train ponies from 3 years old and up, with the ultimate goal being to produce medal winning European championship ponies. I also help to match the ponies with talented young riders and then coach these combinations alongside training the ponies. Typically, I am responsible for between 5 and 8 ponies at one time.
I own two foals born in 2022, a colt and a filly but I don’t own any older horses at the moment.
I also have a degree in Real Estate and worked as a commercial property surveyor for several years before deciding to follow my passion for dressage instead.
How did your horses come into your life?
My 2022 colt, Renaissance, is actually a son of my Pony European Championship partner Rembrandt DDH, who is still with us and loving retirement. His Dam-sire is the incredible U-Genius who sadly passed away this year. He was bred and hand reared by Claire Hester and has recently moved to a colt livery yard to start his journey. I hope for him to gain his breeding licence and continue the legacy of Rembrandt whom I owe so much to.
My 2022 filly, Love Joy Caledonia, is a stunning chestnut by Las Vegas/Sandro Hit/ Sezuan so she is a rarity these days since we have sadly lost Sandro Hit and Sezuan was recently castrated. She was bred by the wonderful team at Caledonia Dressage Horses. I saw her when browsing online and sent my mum to view her immediately, it was a very easy decision to purchase her and I can’t wait to see her develop.
How long have you been riding?
I have been riding since I was 4 years old and always had a special interest in dressage, I am not brave enough for the other disciplines.
When and where do you ride?
I ride all day long, outside, in (almost) all weathers at Gestüt Bönniger.
How did you start riding?
My mum is a keen rider and got me into horses early, honestly, I don’t remember a time when horses were not a huge part of my life. I started out just riding for the fun of it, doing a bit of everything, but soon I found my love of dressage and never looked back.
What are you and your horses currently working on?
This list is too long for specifics!
With the younger ponies it is all about the basics, really focusing on the scales of training. Once these are established then I slowly start to train the more complex movements, they all learn at their own pace.
With the more experienced ponies I work to refine the movements, keep the ponies supple and healthy and as easy to ride as possible for children.
What do you love about riding?
I love all aspects of it, not just riding itself but simply being around the horses, they are really a source of escapism for me.
As for riding itself it’s the process I love, and those moments when something clicks in training, and you feel this incredible sense of accomplishment and pride. I could go on forever but one more thing I love is that every day is educational with horses – you are never truly an expert and if you ever feel that way, your horse will soon show you otherwise.
What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
In the near future my goal is to qualify a pony for the Bundeschampionat – the German Young Horse Federal Championships. It would also be a bonus for one of my students to qualify a pony for this event.
In the more distant future, I would love to have a small private stable – breeding, training and selling dressage horses.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Yes of course and they have become more prevalent with age. When I was younger, I had a strong support team and that really took a lot off my shoulders but as you get older you take on more and more responsibility so inevitably nerves start to creep in.
How do you deal with them?
Preparation! My dad always says ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and it used to drive me crazy, but of course he was absolutely right. If you take steps to control every factor that you can possibly control, then you can relax a little and accept that what happens on the day is a result of the combination of your careful preparation and factors out of your control. This helps me to be less emotional about competitive outcomes and instead to be objective and to pinpoint areas for improvement.
Your Top Tip
Memorise and understand the scales of training and in your training sessions do at least one exercise to improve each one. Trust the process!
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
My pony stallion Rembrandt DDH but a 17hh version – I will always believe that he is the perfect horse.
Who is your equestrian hero?
Ingrid Klimke is a true inspiration for me, I love that she keeps the work fun and varied for the horses and draws on both classical and modern techniques to produce happy equine athletes.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
I will pick 5 equestrians:
Carl Hester so I could beg him to train me.
Ingrid Klimke because, obviously!
Lottie Fry because not only is she world champion but she’s also one of my oldest friends and always makes me laugh.
Tristan Tucker because I find his methods fascinating.
Eva Möller for tips and tricks on all things, young horses.
Favourite colour horse?
I love them all, but black horses have always been my favourite.
Favourite horse event?
Any major championship – it is all about the atmosphere and team spirit for me, not so much the glitz and glamour.
I am a definitely a foodie and love all sorts of dishes, I could never choose a favourite!
Favourite way to relax?
A long walk in the forest with my fiancée and two dachshunds then cuddling up for a movie marathon.
Something silly like an Austin Powers or Will Ferrel movie will always hit the spot for me.
If you enjoyed meeting Maisie you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Maisie’s progress and check out her instagram page here