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    Posted on by Abii Dowdy

    Here is an exclusive interview with Emily Mustow, the winner of  the Hannah Francis Young Event Rider Award 2017! We hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as we loved speaking to such an inspirational young woman!

    1|) How did you feel after being awarded the Hannah Francis Inspirational Young Event Rider Award 2017? What was your reaction?

    “I had no idea I’d even been nominated for the award so when I found out I had won it I just burst into tears, I couldn’t believe it! Hannah will always have a special place in my heart. The last thing she told me before she passed away was ‘please never give up on your dreams’ so I hope my perseverance this year has made her proud.”

    2) What started your dream of becoming an eventer?

    “When I got my first event horse Oxmountain Clover (Chuckie). I was used to showjumping on really whizzy, little ponies so when I got this slow, unbalanced, 5 year old Connemara I wasn’t very keen on him and knew he wouldn’t be quick enough to showjump!  So I tried Eventing and after our first event together I fell in love with him! My mum then got me to watch the film International Velvet which is all about a young girl who’s drive and determination got her to the Olympics, even though she only had one horse and hardly had any financial backing. I watched it every night for about 2 months. It was then I said to my parents ‘I want to do this a career, I want to be an event rider. I want to ride for my country’. Well of course they laughed and thought that’ll never happen, who would listen to a 12 year old who had just gone round their first BE80…? But here we are now! Chuckie and I evented up the BE100 very successfully for 6 seasons and he has just recently retired to be my little hunter, he loves his hunting! Chuckie has been my best friend for 7 years and I owe him a lot. He will be by my side for the rest of his life.”

    3) What do you think is the hardest part of eventing?

    “Personally I find it very difficult financially, especially as a young rider. A lot of the other young riders I compete against have quite a bit of financial support to help buy a few, if not more, top class event horses. One of my horses I’ve had since I was 11 and is now retired, another I got for free and the other is owned by someone else. If my horses get an injury we can’t afford to go out and buy another. My horses are fantastic and I wouldn’t change them for the world but unfortunately it’s very hard for them to compete against those real top class horses. However, they have taught me some invaluable skills that I’m very grateful for and I will take them on all the way through my career.”

    4) Do you have a routine to make sure you are competition ready?

    “Well no two horses are the same so I’ve created a routine for each of my horses. My best horse Prime Time II (Fred) absolutely loves working in the school and doing canter work but he’s not very keen on hacking. He likes feeling like he’s doing a job and not just having a leisurely time wondering around the countryside. If I take him out hacking on his own he gets quite wound up but obviously every horse has to do a bit of hacking so I lead my little Connemara Oxmountain Clover (Chuckie) off him which keeps Fred much calmer. During the season in your average week Fred will jump once, go to training once, have two days working on the flat in the school and two days doing canter work. Sometimes I incorporate  a hack into his canter work but he much prefers just getting on and doing the cantering! If it’s the week leading up to an event than  this routine will slightly change, e.g he might do some more canter work or he might have an extra training session.

    My second horse Sweet Deal (Bugsy) loves going out and working in the fields but hates going into the school at home. He will literally just plant himself. In the season in your average week he will do flatwork out in the fields twice a week, do canter work once a week, train once a week and jump once a week. Both these boys near enough live out all summer long as they love being out in the field. They are both quite buzzy horses so being out just keeps them a little calmer. Sweet Deal also suffered from stomach ulcers when he came to me from a racing yard so being in the field constantly eating grass also helps keep them under control. At the end of the season they all have a holiday for around a month and come back into work late November. Bugsy will mainly hack for the first few weeks and Fred will do mainly flatwork with a bit of hacking. They will then start doing a bit of jumping through the later stages of December ready to start training and doing some BSJA in the new year. They will both go to training and do some showjumping through January whilst I slowly introduce some canter work which will progress into some faster canter work towards the end of February ready to start the season. They will also go cross country schooling in February. Bugsy will go a few times as he’s less experienced and Fred will go just once as he knows what he’s doing!

    As for the events, I try to pick out events that will suit each horse no matter how far I have to travel. Fred loves big long galloping tracks cross country as he’s a very big horse. He also prefers a quieter atmosphere to do dressage but that’s not always easy to find! Bugsy is quite easy. He prefers galloping cross country tracks more than twisty ones as he’s naturally very fast and likes to just keep going forward. He’s very good at dressage so I never worry too much about the atmosphere with him. As for training, they train once a week with my fantastic coach Owen Moore. I train them at Lyneham Heath which has the most amazing facilities. Owen is a brilliant horseman and understands the needs of each and every horse he sees. Fred does more dressage training than jumping as dressage is his weakest phase. Where as Bugsy does more jumping training as he needs to jump quite often to keep his confidence levels up.”

    5) Through Winter what helps you stay motivated for the coming season?

    “I get my Mum to video me at every competition so I can watch everything back and see what I need to improve. I make a list of all the things I need to improve and all the things each horse needs to improve. I love then thinking out a programme over the winter and working on each of these things and getting them right before the beginning of the season. Doing it this way means I don’t miss anything that needs working on and it’s good fun to challenge myself and the horses!”

    6) Do you get nervous before an event, if so how do you conquer these and what would you suggest for other riders to help them conquer their nerves?

    “I don’t get nervous very often but when I do I’m not nervous because I’m worried about falling off or getting hurt, I have a fear of failure. I hate letting people down including myself but most of all I hate letting my horse down. If I start to suffer from nerves I have two ways to control them. The first way is locking myself in a bubble. In my bubble is me and the things I can control, outside my bubble is the things I can’t control. When I lock myself in my bubble I block everything I can’t control out (e.g weather, other competitors etc) and focus on the things I can control (e.g my horse, being on time, walking courses properly etc). If I do this the rest of the world doesn’t matter it’s just me and the horse. My second way of controlling my nerves is my breathing technique. I breath in for 5 seconds and breath out for 5 seconds. This slows my heart rate and improves my focus massively. A horse can actually feel your heart beating through the saddle so if your heart is beating through the roof then he will start to get nervous and play up, they are just as sensitive as us so this is a really effective technique for both you and you horse! Every rider has their own level of nerves so you need to find a technique that fits you. My nerves are very low grade so my techniques are quite simple but some people might actually need to go and see a sports psychologist to help control their nerves. I got both my techniques from sports psychologist Charlie Unwin who has worked with British Team members and is just fantastic.

    I couldn’t have won the award without my amazing horse Fred who is owned by Mrs Annie Finch. He’s been my hero this year and has looked after me like a true gentleman. The whole team behind me have been incredible all year, my Mum is my rock and has worked so hard to keep the horses and I on track even when things weren’t going right and I’m so thankful to her.”

    An absolutely amazing achievement! Huge congratulations now inning this aware and we look forward to seeing your successes in 2018!