This week I’m delighted to be chatting with the young up and coming dressage rider Sarah Rogers.In addition to recently completeing a degree in Criminology and competing and bringning on her young talented gelding Bumble, Sarah also offers schooling/exercising/freelance grooming for horses and ponies in the Sussex area. Read on to discover more about this talented and hardworking young lady who along with the improving Bumble, looks set to appear at some high profile shows this year
Tell us a little about you and your horse
I am a 22-year-old aspiring dressage rider from East Sussex. I have just recently completed a degree in Criminology which I have been studying alongside competing and training my horse, Bumble.
Bumble is a 16.2 gelding by the stallion Apache, who has definitely taught me a lot! We bought him as a 5(?) year old and he has been my best friend ever since. He has the most lovable personality, and we believe he is extremely talented, but can be challenging at times like they all can be!
We gave him some time off over lockdown and have given him a complete routine change, including the new lifestyle of ‘living out’ in the field, alongside an extremely varied work routine which seems to be suiting him hugely. We have competed up to medium level and hope to continue this now that shows are commencing again.
Previously to owning and riding Bumble, I have had the lucky opportunity to own a number of special horses and have had the chance to compete up to Junior level as well as completing a couple of PSG tests. This helped me gain feel for higher movements and really taught me how to ride a test.
How did horses come into your life?
I have ridden horses since a young age of about 6 years old. My mum has always owned and ridden horses, so I soon fell in love with them after our regular trips to the yard from a young age! I started out at a local riding school, and I could never wait to go back. This resulted in my parents buying me my first pony called Cookie, when I was 8 years old. I have such lovely memories of riding activities, including pony club camps, fun rides, and mounted games all from a young age!
How long have you been riding?
I have been riding since the young age of 6, and had my first pony at 8 years old, a little grey cob called Cookie.
When and where do you ride?
My mum and I keep our horses at Chelwood Gate Equestrian Centre at ECM dressage (Eve Manning). The facilities are absolutely amazing and it’s such a friendly yard, I work there during the week too so get to spend even more time with my horse! I train with Gareth Hughes and take regular monthly trips up to his yard for lessons which are definitely a highlight of my riding career.
What are you and your horse currently working on?
I have been working extremely hard on keeping bumble relaxed and happy in the arena, as he can find new questions quite mentally challenging, so I have been finding ways to keep the work varied and fun for him. We have just started teaching him changes which he has picked up really well, and I think this could be a highlight in his work. Other than that, we are always working on the basics – contact and suppleness – something which I think you can never practice enough!
What do you love about riding?
There are so many aspects about riding that I adore. I love the bond that is created between horse and rider – the connection that you can’t find anywhere else. I love working with them and teaching them new things, whilst making the work fun and rewarding for them.
The feeling that you can get when everything falls into place is like nothing else, even if it is only a few times a year that you get this!
I absolute love competing and love the vibe at big shows. One of my favourites has had to be the BYRDS home internationals which I competed in on my 13.2 pony when I was younger.
What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
Following the completion of my university degree, I am now offering schooling and grooming freelance services whilst contributing to gain more experience in the industry. I would absolutely love to buy a few young dressage ponies to produce, this has always been a dream of mine!
In terms of riding, I am hoping to continue my training with Bumble and work our way up through the levels. Some of my aims this year include taking him to some high profile shows and continuing to further his education and exposure in the ring.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves riding?
Yes, I can suffer quite badly with nerves especially before a big competition. I do believe this is extremely normal. We all put pressure on ourselves when we work so hard for something, but it’ll only get easier with the more that you do it.
How did you deal with them?
I often find that using a meditation app before I compete really helps to calm me down and helps me focus in the moment rather than worrying about what could go wrong. I also like to go to competitions well prepared and like to practice my tests a few times before I head off. This allows me time to work on any aspects that me and my horse might struggle with, giving us the best chance possible when we come to compete. I also find that having test riding lessons with trainers really helps too.
Your top tip
Your horses happiness must always come first in every decision you make. Enjoy the sport, it’s meant to be fun so don’t overwhelm yourself with pressure!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
I think it must have to be Charlotte Dujardins Pumpkin! He reminds me so much of my horse, Bumble, and shares the same dad! I love the way he holds himself in the arena and who doesn’t love a chestnut!
Who is your equestrian hero?
My rider hero has to be my trainer, Gareth Hughes. I value his horsemanship so much, every horse he rides looks so happy and he’s achieved so much! Of course, Carl and Charlotte have also been huge heroes for me growing up!
Favourite colour horse
I absolutely adore chestnuts! Their summer coats always seem to be amazing and cleaning them up for a competition is hugely satisfying! I also love horses with lots of white on them too, in socks, blazes, stars etc! I also love a nice coloured but have never owned one.
Favourite horse event
My favourite horse event to spectate at has to be Olympia horse show in London! I love the variety of classes that are on, and the atmosphere is always amazing. Alongside this, the shopping is also great, so it can end up being an expensive trip!
I’ve also always enjoyed travelling up to Badminton to watch the eventing. I especially love walking around the cross-country course, I really admire the event riders and their bravery!
To compete at myself, I love the atmosphere of high profile shows in the UK. It’s so motivating to be riding at the same event as some of the top riders.
I am definitely a huge food lover. I absolutely love coming home from a long day at the yard to a roast dinner cooked by my mum! Alongside this, I also love Thai food and can quite often get this as a weekly takeaway.
Favourite way to relax
If I’m stressed, I find going to the gym really helps me de-stress and I feel a huge sense of relaxation after my session. I feel as though working out at the gym works really well next to your riding fitness, and I especially enjoy weightlifting and training my muscle groups.
I also love anything in the sun, with beach days being a favourite. I absolutely love lying next to the sea on a hot day with a good book!
I absolutely love a good horror film, or a psychological thriller! I recently watched shutter island for the first time and that has to be the best film I have seen in a long time.