This week I’m chatting with British dressage rider, BDCC Level 2 Dressage trainer and coach Sarah Fitton. Based in England, Sarah has also gained places on the Sport Sheffield Elite Sports Performance Scheme and on the British Equestrian Federations England Excel Talent Programme which support young athletes showing future Olympic potential. In 2021/2022 Sarah also gained a place on the British Equestrian Federations Young Professionals Programme. Read on to discover more about Sarah, her ambitions, and top tips for success.
Tell us about you and your horses
I am a twenty seven year old dressage rider and coach based on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border. I currently own three horses, Florenciana 4 (Tia) who is a 14 year old Hanoverian, competing at Inter 2, Isabel Star FH (Belle) who is a 9 year old Dutch Warmblood currently in foal (due next June) and Newton Reverie (jointly owned with one of my lovely clients) who is a 3 year old British Bred Warmblood that I am currently backing. Having just set up my own yard, I also have a variety of training and sales liveries based with me that range from youngsters through to more established horses and everything in between!
How did your horses come into your life?
My mum has always loved riding so I have been around horses since the day I can remember.
The three horses I currently own all came to me for different reasons; I worked on a dressage yard for Jerome Hulsman in Holland after finishing school, a few months after I had returned to England he sent Tia over to me to train as he didn’t have space for her in Holland and knew I didn’t own a horse at the time but was desperate to ride. I was meant to send her back a few months later but I fell completely in love with her and couldn’t bring myself to let her go. A few years later Tia sadly had a bout of laminitis and vets said she would never be rideable again, so I got back in touch with Jerome and bought Belle off him – shortly after that, Tia recovered and surpassed all vets expectations leaving me with two gorgeous mares to ride. Reverie only came into my life quite recently after a lovely client of mine asked whether I would like to jointly own and bring on a horse with her, so I got in touch with Elite Dressage who showed me lots of youngsters living out in herds, but Revi caught my eye instantly.
How long have you been riding?
Ever since the day I can remember.
When and where do you ride?
All day every day. I recently opened my own yard which has been a lifelong dream of mine, so the horses all live at home with me now and I train them there.
How did you start riding?
I could barely walk when I first started pottering around on my childhood pony, since then I enjoyed a variety of disciplines before becoming hooked on dressage at about eight years old – I haven’t looked back since.
What are you and your horses currently working on?
I have high hopes for all three horses over the next few years with the main aim being to compete Tia internationally for Great Britain at Senior Small Tour level and to also complete our first Grand Prix together. I can’t wait to meet the foal Belle will produce next summer, and I just want to take things slowly with Revi to give her time to develop.
What do you love about riding?
I just love spending my days surrounded by horses, I honestly think we are so lucky to be able to ride such genuine animals and I love building a relationship with each of them. There’s nothing better than seeing a horse you have trained progress through the levels and successfully out competing.
What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I have always had three main goals ever since the day I can remember which are; to compete at Grand Prix on a horse I have trained up the levels from Prelim (I hope to do my first GP with Tia by the end of the year), to compete at a senior International (I am keeping everything crossed I get to do this next year), and to own my yard – I managed to tick this goal off my list this year.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Yes occasionally, but in all honesty I don’t really get too nervous, I am usually quite good at keeping my cool, if anything I am probably a bit too laid back sometimes!
How do you deal with them?
I tend to try and convert any nerves into positive energy – to push myself to work even harder than I would normally – I tend to find this allows me to perform at my best.
Your Top Tip
To never stop working hard until your dreams become a reality – I really believe that if you want something badly enough and are prepared to work hard enough for it, then you will make it happen eventually.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
I have always dreamed of sitting on a horse like Totilas.
Who is your equestrian hero?
I have so much respect and admiration for Carl Hester – he has done so much for our sport.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Carl Hester, Ed Sheeran, Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, Meghan Markle
Favourite colour horse?
I have always loved a Chestnut.
Favourite horse event?
Somerford Park Premier League – its such a well run competition, the sun is usually shinning and it is local to me so lots of my friends and family tend to come and cheer me on – what’s not to love.
Chocolate without a doubt!
Favourite way to relax?
I don’t tend to sit still for long, but I do love catching up with friends.
I don’t watch films very often, but The Lion King is a classic in my eyes.
If you enjoyed meeting Sarah you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Sarah’s progress and check out her instagram page here