Bluegrass Horse Feeds brand ambassador Emma Hobson gives a “behind the success” look at what it takes to instruct, judge, run a yard, compete and be a mum.
1) What’s your favourite horse you’ve ridden?
My favourite mount definitely has to be my current horse, Rolando. He’s a joy in every sense of the word: he’s sparky so he keeps me on my toes (which I need!) and he’s got talent to burn in every discipline. He’s jumped to Grand Prix and is working on Advanced Medium level dressage. He has the most beautiful paces and he is well schooled so it feels effortless riding him on the flat. He’s so willing and talented.
2) What horse would you like to have in your stables?
Do you think Utopia or Valegro are available?
3) If you weren’t a dressage rider what would you like to be?
If I had to pick another discipline, I’d definitely be an Event rider. Those riders certainly know how to do it! They have to excel in all three disciplines and find the ultimate team mate to do it with. That is always a challenge. The XC phase is getting so technical so they have to be up to the job. I’m in awe of them.
If I had to pick another profession, I’d love to head back to University and retrain as a vet. It’s something I’ve always had such a fascination in.
4) Favourite horseshow?
The Dressage Ireland National Championships. It’s fantastic to see all the riders under one roof and lovely to catch up with my fellow dressage judges and trainers. If I’m not riding here, I’m usually attending some judge training and it’s a great opportunity to observe Ireland’s dressage talent. I love competing at this show too: the atmosphere is electric and the horses really pick up on it.
5) Do you prefer the Greatest Showman or Les Mis soundtrack?
Definitely the Greatest Showman. The soundtrack hasn’t been off in the stables since I watched it.
6) What’s the one thing in your tack room you can’t be without?
That’s a hard one! My massage therapy pad and Horseware Ice Vibe boots that the horses get treated to before and after every ride. Or, my Haas grooming kit and Le Meiux Matchy sets. Every dressage rider also loves a bit of patent leather and bling!
7) Have you any routines or habits before you go in the ring?
Tonnes! I’m a creature of habit and really OCD about my training but one thing I will always do is have a warm up plan! I find that riders school really well in their training sessions and then they get to a show and have a walk, trot, canter; all of their other schooling work goes out the window on a show day. However, I think that the show day is the opportunity to show off your best work so whatever gets your horse ready, supple, concentrating and going well at home also needs to be done in the warm up arena before you trot up that centre line to the judge.
8) Do you have any other hobbies or sport interests?
As well as running my own equestrian business and judging dressage, I also do a bit of beauty (nails, waxing … that type of thing.) I’m also a full time mummy so that keeps me pretty busy.
9) What’s your favourite Bluegrass Horse Feed Product?
Where do I start? I love Re-Leve or Re-Solve, it’s so diverse that I feed it to most of the horse’s and ponies in the yard. It’s got Stamm 30 included so it’s got all of the essential vitamins and minerals in it.
I’m also a fan of the new Bluegrass feed, Turmash as the horses love it and the anti-inflammatory properties are great! It’s a high fibre, non-heating feed with linseed oil so all of the horse’s coats are shiny and glossy.
10) When did you start riding?
At the age of three. I think I was riding before I could walk!
11) First pony’s name?
Tootles. He was about 30 when I got him and everyone we met in The Pony Club had learnt to ride on him. He knew his job well, especially in Pony Club games!
12) What’s your proudest achievement so far?
Qualifications for Hickstead in the Dressage Ireland National Championships. Unfortunately, I was seven months pregnant the first time so I was unable to travel over and the second time, my wee girl was too little.
13) What’s your favourite training exercise?
Transitions. Transitions. Transitions. I am also a fan of raised poles and caveletti work for the dressage horses.
14) One piece of advice you’d give to young riders?
At the end of the day, you are only competing against yourself so don’t get disheartened if you don’t always win or get placed: take the feedback, learn the lesson and build on it to improve. Keep trying and stay positive. It’s all a journey so sit back and enjoy every step of it.