In our 20th anniversary magazine, The Inside Scoop, which can be downloaded from our homepage, we profile sponsored riders including Emma Hobson. Rebecca Haywood had a chat with Emma to find out why she swapped the classroom for the yard.
A CHANGE in career has seen Emma Hobson go from an English teacher to a freelance equestrian instructor while also competing at top-level dressage.
“I came from a very horsey family and I guess it was always there for me to come back to,” says Emma, who competed in showjumping as a teenager. “I had a pony called Reuben and he was a great showjumper. I think I took after my grandfather back then as I enjoyed the adrenalin rush,” says Emma, 33, a mother of one. “I thought dressage was uninspiring and boring but little did I know that one day I’d be hooked!”
Emma spent 11 years in Scotland studying and focusing on her career. “I was at Glasgow University where I did a degree in English Literature, a masters, and a Post Graduate diploma in Education before becoming an English teacher at a top state school in Scotland,” explains Emma, of Tynan, near Armagh. “When I was about 25 I decided to get back into riding so I bought a horse – a Thoroughbred – who had done zero flatwork, so that’s what I started working on,” added Emma, who kept Jack, as he was known, at Rowallan Equestrian Centre. “I literally had to start from scratch and it was then that I got the dressage bug. I was also lucky enough to have lessons with Grand Prix dressage rider, Dominique Parsons-O’Sullivan, who inspired and opened up the world of dressage to me.”
With Jack being a Thoroughbred, Emma found it was hard for him to maintain weight over the winter months. “He was also a stressy personality type so I sent his details off to Bluegrass for a feed analysis. I started using the products all the time and it was amazing how the horse literally changed for the better.”
When Emma moved back to Ireland six years ago, she brought Jack home with her and it was then they started competing in Dressage Ireland competitions. She later bought her current top horse – Rolando, a former showjumper himself. “I picked him up in Cavan sales when my mum and I went for a look. We never intended to buy anything! He’s an ex grand-prix showjumper and it was his wonderful paces I fell for.
“I bought him with a view of giving him a career change in dressage. In his first season I started him at preliminary level. He went from strength to strength, bringing home red ribbons on nearly every outing. I was thrilled when he won the Northern Ireland preliminary championship and was placed third in the National championships in Cavan,” adds Emma, who joined Northern Ireland’s dressage committee and works as a freelance instructor for riding and pony clubs. “I never thought I’d be as passionate about dressage as much as I am, but I’m a really OCD type person so I think the precision and accuracy of the discipline suits my personality! I’m a determined person so I enjoy the challenge and there’s always more schooling techniques, movements and ring craft tips to learn.”
Bluegrass Horse Feeds started sponsoring Emma in December 2016. “I use either RE-leve or Resolve as an everyday feed for both my horses and also my daughter’s pony, who used to suffer from laminitis. I love the versatility of the feeds and the fact that I’m using the same feed for all of them. I’m a big fan of keeping it simple and not messing about. My horses are looking immaculate and performing really well – if it’s working there’s no point in trying to fix something that’s not broken.”
Emma’s new ride, Hanna, is a five-year-old eventing prospect and this is a discipline Emma’s hoping to break into using her former jumping experience. While she’ll be continuing to compete in dressage, Emma has her own business, Emma Hobson Equestrian, and is also working her way up the British Horse Society (BHS) qualifications ladder. “Coming from an academic background, I love to learn and improve so I can enhance riders’ experiences.”
Discipline – DRESSAGE
Current top horses: Rolando; Hanna
Favourite Bluegrass Products: Re-Leve, Re-Solve; Garlic Chaff
Bluegrass Horse Feeds is an Irish horse feed producer based at its mill in Eglish in County Tyrone. Bluegrass Horse Feeds, which produces quality and innovative horse feeds, is the Ireland Team Member of Kentucky Equine Research. The Bluegrass Horse Feeds team works closely with owners, riders and trainers using the latest nutritional research and technology to achieve optimum performance from their horses. Bluegrass distributes its feeds the length and breadth of Ireland and has over 200 stockists. If you need nutritional advice please fill out our diet request form and while you're here find out your nearest stockist.