Leading up to our second Horse Of The Year, we were delighted to catch up with Jody Hartstonewho has recently been on an Australian tour with her Lusitano stallion Ali Baba. With a full calendar in 2016, Jody who rides in a PH Amazone talks about Ali Baba, her dressage career and what is in store for 2016.
HOW WAS YOUR RECENT TOUR OF OZ? HIGHLIGHTS, CHALLENGES?
I had a great time - we meet a lot of lovely people and caught up with old friends too. Unfortunately the weather gods were not playing in our favor - there was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightening at the Australian Nationals just as I was warming up.
At the Equine Lifestyle Festival we just about had to swim through the arenas the rain was so bad. It was so disappointing as its hard to get your best work in these conditions and Ali Baba is a sensitive soul, however he tried his heart out in each and every test. We finished on a good note at Werribee CDI-W with some of our most consistent and confident work - so all in all I was pleased with him - he's still young and very inexperienced - its only his third year of dressage ...
ALI BABA IS A BEAUTIFUL STALLION, BEING A LUSITANO WHAT BENEFITS DO YOU THINK A HORSE LIKE ALI HAS IN THE DRESSAGE RING?
I know most people think you need a Warmblood to do dressage at the highest level - but the Lusitano are one of the oldest and purest of all the dressage breeds. They are terrific at the high school "airs above the ground" and find all the collected work very easy. I love the way the breed have such huge hearts - there is a lot of bullfighting blood in Ali Baba's veins - he never wants to say no or let his rider down. When you sit on a Lusitano like him you know you are on a special horse - the vibration under you is incredible and the brain is second to none.
YOUR CHOICE OF SADDLE IS THE PH AMAZONE. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LIKE ABOUT RIDING IN THIS PARTICULAR SADDLE?
I love the freedom it gives both myself and the horse. Everyone that has sat on it remarks on just how "invisible" the saddle feels. Comfortable but not in an "armchair" way - and it just allows you to get on and do your job as a rider. The craftsmanship and leather quality are fantastic too.
HOW DOES IT BENEFIT ALI BABA?
I think because it allows me to sit a bit deeper and adjust my position more so I am not stuck in any one place then I can follow his movement better. It has allowed greater freedom of the shoulder for him and there is a great confidence in knowing your horse has a bespoke saddle made just for him - nothing off the shelf can ever fit like a Horobin!
WHAT ARE YOU GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR?
We have two international shows in NZ coming up - the National Championships and the HOY - I hope like heck I can just improve on my scores from last year and present him to the best of my ability. I always hope the audience can see the love I have for my horse and the special bond we share - winning over the audience means more to me than the judges score sheets.
WHEN YOU COMPETE WHO/WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION? DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO OR RITUAL THAT YOU LIKE TO EMBRACE BEFORE A COMPETITION?
I teach a few of the Para riders these days - they are a constant inspiration to me - competing and riding is hard enough - but with a disability - that's just wow! I have lots off wee rituals - most riders have a wee touch of OCD - I wont go into listing all the rituals here - that would take to long. And my motto - Never Give Up - the only reason I reached the highest levels of the sport is I never stopped riding and loving horses. Their touch, their smell... I love it all!
The PHS team will be attending Horse Of The Year, New Zealand Site F11. (In between the showjumping and dressage arenas.) If you would like to enquire about a saddle fitting with Peter, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org