Competition Winner Story: Bates Saddles
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Get to know all about our fabulous winner Maisie Hodge, winning an incredible Bates Artiste Saddle worth £3500!
Maisie is an inspiring, determined and extremely hard-working dressage rider, and we couldn't wait to share her journey with you...
Tell us a bit about your dressage journey so far!
My dressage journey started in 2015 on my Welsh Cob “Bear”. We trained from Prelim to Elementary/Medium together, and the highlight of our career was winning the BYRDS Inter-regionals and the Home International. My next horse was “Big G” (Garant H) whom I produced from a 5-year-old. We enjoyed success from Novice to Medium, highlighted with a 3rd at the Medium Nationals just before he had to be retired due to a field injury in late 2019.
My current competition ride is 8 year old “Terry”(Insist TC) whom was very lucky to receive this wonderful new Bates Artiste saddle! We’re currently competing at Elementary, where he’s won every test we’ve done, and are looking forward to moving up to Medium once the lockdown restrictions lift. I also have a 5-year-old called “Aero” (Leggero) who is currently training with me at home. He will hopefully make his competition debut this year!
What is your favourite thing about dressage?
My favourite thing about dressage would have to be the constant ability to train and improve. We’re always aiming for perfection, and there is always something to work on. Whether it be how you ride a specific movement or working on the horse’s way of going, it’s never boring as we’re always able to set new goals! There’s no better feeling than when all your training pays off and you feel in total harmony with your horse, smashing a test you’ve worked so hard on!
Tell us all about your horses…
Terry is an 8-year-old KWPN gelding by Apache. I’ve owned him for just under a year and together we’ve gone from Prelim to training at Advanced Medium this year. He’s a little pocket rocket, standing just shy of 16hh, but what he lacks in size, he definitely makes up for in character! He’s like the naughty pony club pony of the yard, constantly scraping in the wash bay and dragging you to any piece of grass he sees! But equally, he loves to hack on a long rein for hours around the field. He’s such a talented horse and definitely the most powerful horse I’ve had! I’m so excited for the future with him, I want him to be my very own Gio!
What did you do straight after you found out you won the competition?
When I found out I’d won the competition I think I squealed with excitement! I’d had a rubbish week and the call came totally out of the blue. I genuinely couldn’t believe it when I was told what I’d won!! I rang my mum and she could barely get a word in as I was so over the moon. Then I had to tell everyone at the yard as I just couldn’t contain my excitement. I was truly buzzing! I really couldn’t believe that I could have won a brand new Bates Artiste Saddle!!
What are your thoughts on your new Bates Artiste saddle?
I am really loving this amazing prize and so is Terry! I wasn’t quite sure how it would feel on him because he can be really hard to fit a saddle for. He’s such a chunky monkey, that most saddles just seem to slip around on him. However, I knew after the first ride in this saddle that I loved it. It felt so secure for both of us and the seat is really comfortable, making you feel really close to the horse.
One of my favourite features is the moveable knee blocks which screw into whichever position suits you best. This is a huge benefit as it means you are well supported and completely comfortable which ultimately pays dividends in our performance as a combination.
What are your plans and hopes looking forwards to 2021?
My goal for 2021 with Terry is mainly to get more show experience, especially at bigger competitions. I’m looking forward to taking him to the regionals if they go ahead, and we’re definitely hoping to get to compete at the nationals. He’s never attended anything more than a regular show, so it’ll be a great experience for us to compete with more pressure/atmosphere.
My training goal with Terry is to establish ourselves at PSG. Everything at that level is new to us both so we’re learning together, which makes being at that level so exciting for me!
What motivates you to keep up the hard work during lockdown?
When I think about my goals, the top of the list is quite long-term. I have lots of small step goals, but ultimately I’m always focused on the big goal that they are leading me to. This means that despite not having competitions to aim for at the moment, I’ve still got a driving force to keep training and keep up the hard work to enable me to be better for my horses, both physically and mentally.
During lockdown, I’ve started sessions with Jackie McCormick who is a solution focussed hypnotherapist. She has helped me to understand just how powerful your brain is. I now make sure that I put time into keeping my mind healthy, as I’ve found that it has a massive effect on my physical capabilities.
I’ve also found that with being in lockdown and staying in the same place for so long, exercising physically is a brilliant escape from reality. So I don’t see it as something I have to do, but something I can enjoy doing to help my mind and body which ultimately benefits my riding! It’s a win win!
I don’t put pressure on myself to be able to lift a certain weight for example, but just to keep myself feeling fit and ready to ride. The feeling that gives me keeps me motivated intrinsically, I can’t bare the feeling of being stiff or wonky on a horse!
Who in the dressage world inspires you the most?
Someone who really inspires me is a wonderful lady who I met when I was just starting dressage, Carol Hogg. She runs an association called Dressage U21’s UK, designed to supplement young riders training and experience within dressage and the equine industry. She inspires me because she is one of the most dedicated, supportive and giving people that I’ve ever met. That can be really hard to find, especially in such a competitive environment.
I find it so inspiring that she can be that source for so many people. She has helped countless young riders to achieve so much, not just in competition but in setting personal goals and increasing knowledge and awareness of our horses and how we ride.
Even in lockdown, she continues to create a positive environment, albeit virtually, for all her members. I find it so inspiring that she is always so giving to people, with absolutely nothing wanted in return. I know that everyone part of U21’s would join me in saying Carol is a true legend and support that we’re all so very grateful to have. I look up to many riders within the industry, for different reasons, but there would be too many to name each of them individually!
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