NEWs

Meet The Howden Way athletes heading to Badminton

Four talented event riders under The Howden Way umbrella are entered for one of the World’s most challenging 5* events – Badminton Horse Trials. Each rider has benefited from training and support offered by The Howden Way Talent Pathway and Young Horse Academy, and are now raring to go ahead of this year’s event.

The Talent pathway is an annual programme which runs from January to December each calendar year, with ongoing performance reviews of eligible combinations, while The Howden Young Horse Academy offers a pathway for horses aged 5 – 9 years.

Both academies help support young riders and horses as they transition through British Eventing’s ranks. The purpose is to nurture and develop the next generation of talent enabling athletes and horses to fulfil their potential.

The Talent Pathway comprises of five tiers, each of which focuses on a different rider and horse demographic. Each of our Talent Pathway riders heading to Badminton are Tier 1 riders for U28 riders competing at 4* and above transitioning out of Young Riders.

British Eventing’s CEO Rosie Williams commented: “We are thrilled to have four The Howden Way athletes heading to Badminton this year. It is huge credit to them and their monumental efforts for getting a horse to a 5*.

“We are pleased to have been able to support these athletes in their journey both at the pre-season talent pathway camps and young horse camps, along with their run up to Badminton with pre-event training, and on event coach and vet support.

“We wish Alice, Georgia, Emma and Holly and their talented equine partners, the very best of luck for a successful Badminton.”

With Badminton Horse Trials less than a week away, we caught up with The Howden Way riders to find out how they are preparing ahead of this year’s event.

Alice Casburn
Alice Casburn (22) is a Tier 1 athlete and is heading to her third Badminton riding her mother Caroline’s 16-year-old British gelding Topspin.

“I’m most looking forward to going back and being part of the atmosphere and feeling that buzz again,” said Alice. “Off the back of our Burnham Market run, Topspin is feeling fit and happy. He can be a bit ‘ditchy’, so we’ll practice a few ditches in the lead up and have some dressage lessons to eke out those extra marks. We’ll also build some lines in the field which is on a hill and is fantastic to train on.

“The Howden Way training has been fantastic. It is low pressure but well organised with great coaches and really experienced people. The facilities are always excellent and I really enjoy the chats in the evening to help make event plans and gain an insight from all areas of eventing. Having a saddle fitter and vet there too means we can get all the key things checked. I find the camps really beneficial.”

Emma Thomas
Tier 1 athlete Emma Thomas (24), will be making her Badminton debut this year riding Icarus X, an 11-year-old gelding owned by Rebecca Velarde.

“We went to Burghley last year but this is my first Badminton,” said Emma. “Icarus or Sticky as we call him at home is only 15.2hh and is quite a wild child. He only really wants to be galloping and jumping! We’ve had him six years since he was five.

“I’m as happy as I can be ahead of Badminton – he looks and feels great and is really fit, so fingers crossed everything goes smoothly. We’ve been having dressage lessons – I don’t tend to jump him too much – and we do lot of cavaletti and getting him really round and correct. He also goes to the gallops and we canter round a friend’s farm.

“The Howden Way camps have been fantastic. The trainers have been incredible and are people I wouldn’t normally have access to. I took a lot from the additional sessions with the strength and conditioning coach about how to get fit for riding, and the sport psychology sessions about dealing with external factors at an event to stay focussed.

“I’m going to try and not be overawed by the whole thing at Badminton, but coming over the finish line after the cross-country will be a massive achievement. It’ll be a real bucket list moment.”

Georgia Bartlett
Making a return to Badminton after her debut run there last year is Tier 1 Academy rider Georgia Bartlett (23) who will be partnering her 18-year-old gelding Spano de Nazca.

“It’s a very special event to compete at, and it’s nice going back this year knowing what to expect – I’m looking forward to giving it another go,” said Georgia. “I’ve got him fitter than he’s ever been this year. He had his last run at Kelsall Hill, and now it’s about keeping him ticking over, practicing our dressage test and doing some course jumping.

“Getting to the event is always a big thing when you’re at that level. Driving in and being part of an event that you have followed since a child is very special. I’m looking forward to getting out of the start box and riding round the course.

“The Howden Way Talent Pathway programme is a great idea and it’s nice to have a group of us on the academy together all looking to achieve similar goals – it’s like a community. It’s also good to work with different top coaches and get fresh eyes on the horses. It was useful to get some feedback and see what improvements could be made at the start of the season.”

Holly Richardson
Another rider under The Howden Way umbrella heading to Badminton is Holly Richardson who is on The Howden Way Young Horse Academy with seven-year-old Madame Revolution TCE. This is Holly’s first Badminton and she will be riding Andrew and Julie Wingfield’s 14-year-old gelding Bally Louis.

“I’ve been riding Bally Louis since 2019 and we did our first Burghley last year – he is a really lovely horse,” said Holly. “I’m looking forward to just getting to Badminton – it’ll be a celebration to drive through the gates and get settled in the stables. He’s feeling fit and ready and I’m looking forward to going.

“We’ve been doing lots of training and Bally Louis came along to a couple of The Howden Way training camps which were fantastic. It was a great opportunity to focus on just a couple of horses for a few days and get access to some amazing coaches that we don’t usually have access to being based up North. It’s also great to be amongst other like-minded people who all have the same goals. It was brilliant and very inspiring.”

David Howden, CEO and Founder of Howden and Founder and President of Cornbury House Horse Trials, said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve got four young superstars on their way to Badminton Horse trials this year. This is one of the pinnacles of the worldwide eventing calendar so it’s an amazing achievement – particularly when you think that, were it not for our talent academy, these talented riders might never have had the opportunity to compete on the best of British sporting stages.

“What already promised to be a thrilling weekend has now had the excitement dialled up to 11. I can’t wait to see our how our young competitors and their incredible horses get on.”

To find out more about The Howden Way Talent Academy and Young Horse Academy, visit: https://www.britisheventing.com/train/train-with-be-the-howden-way

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