This week I’m thrilled to be chatting with top British international Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer, Sarah Higgins. Based in Knutsford, England at the Pinfold Stables which is run by Sarah and her partner, international event rider Alex Hua Tian. Read on to find out more about this incredibly talented young lady, her life to date, and her plans for the future.
Tell us a little about you and your horses
I am 33-year-old dressage rider based in Cheshire with my partner, event rider Alex Hua Tian. Between us we have 25 horses on our yard. About 12 of these are dressage horses that are ridden by myself and Student Sarah Rao. We have big ambitions as a team and I feel very privileged to have the team of horses that I have now to ride. They vary from just backed 4-year olds to International Grand Prix horses
How did your horses come into your life?
My mother was an event rider and always worked with horses so it was really something I was born into.
How long have you been riding?
Since before I could walk really!!
When and where do you ride?
I ride at Pinfold Stables in Knutsford which is where I am based with my partner. I seem to spend most of my life on a horse or more recently riding at shows, it has been a busy year!
How did you start riding?
My mother was an event rider so I was extremely lucky to be ‘born into’ the world of horses. I have ridden horse since I can remember. Starting off with showing and then I became involved with BYRDS scheme when I was about 10 years old which got me hooked on dressage! I have still have many friends that I made all those years ago from North West BYRDS!
What you and your horses currently working on?
All of my horses have had a pretty intense period of competition the first half of this year so now we are having a couple of months training at home before the National Championships in September and hopefully some internationals towards the end of the year if Covid allows. So at the moment the horses are mainly working towards their next level up which is always an exciting time!
What do you love about riding?
First and foremost I love horses. I love being around them all day every day! I love how rewarding it is to form a partnership with a horse. Sometimes the tricky ones are almost more enjoyable because when you get to the other side with them there is nothing more rewarding!
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
Firstly, and for me most importantly I want to continue to run a successful business because without this any competitive goals are stressful to achieve!! From a competition aspect I would like to compete on a Nations Cup team and from there who knows where that can go!
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Yes absolutely! Most of the time I love the feeling of nerves. For me I have to make sure I use them in an effective way and not let them become a distraction. Nerves make me quite excited and sometimes I can get almost a bit hyper and distracted. But over the years I have learnt what is the best routine for me at a show to make sure this doesn’t happen! Competition without nerves would be boring in my opinion! Learning to make them useful is the hard part!
How do you deal with them?
Mainly through doing it wrong! I now know when I am nervous standing with a load of people talking about being nervous is the worst thing of all. Instead, I have become quite disciplined with myself. When I begin to feel the nerves are becoming a negative, I take myself off and sit on my own and go through my test repeatedly in my head, visualising exactly how I want to ride the test. Not just the order of the movements but where I need a half halt where I might need to use a corner in a slightly different way to set up for a certain movement etc… It has taken a lot of practice because I can lack focus, but I feel quite good at it now.
Your Top Tip
Surround yourself with the best people possible. Horses are tough and great levellers. If you don’t have a good team of people around you winning is never as fun and losing is unbearable!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
After watching the jumping in Tokyo, I would have to say Ben Mahers’ Explosion. As I can’t see a stride, I think Lottie Fry’s Glamourdale would probably be more appropriate. I feel like that canter would be pretty spectacular to sit on!
Who is your equestrian hero?
I am not sure I have a specific hero. There are so many people I admire for different reasons but at the moment the elite British Riders in all disciplines are pretty insane. If I could take a bit from each of them, I think I would be doing alright!
If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
The perfect mixture of banter and beauty!
Favourite colour horse?
Favourite horse event
Samuer in France is pretty Epic and Bolsworth in the UK
Basically, all food but probably fillet steak and chips with garlic butter