It was great to see that Laura Tomlinson is about to return to competitive riding again after the birth of her daughter, Annalisa, in July. She brought along her promising new hope for the future, Unique (known affectionately as Minnie, despite her enormous size!). Minnie is a 10 year old Holsteiner who Laura competed very successfully at small tour level in 2013, having purchased the mare in 2011 with a view to replacing her hugely successful team horse, Mistral Hojris (Alf)
Laura started off by walking the mare quietly on a long rein, allowing her to take in the atmosphere. She described her as quite a hot horse, opinionated and vocal, ‘Unhinged’ was used in her description! Minnie has a huge walk with a massive over-track and swing. Laura said her walk was ‘A free gift’ and that it was her responsibility to protect it because it scores very highly in test. She uses lots of walk breaks with this horse because she is very long in the back and can tend to brace herself in collection so she likes her to stretch and have the chance to relax and take a deep breath.
She moved straight up into canter next, saying she prefers to canter her first as the trot can be over-extravagant which makes it hard to loosen her back. She used lots of walk-canter and canter-walk transitions and changes of rein with single changes in order to get her to take the contact forwards and to trust the hand. Minnie had a bit of a grunt and squeal as she started to collect her and Laura said she is a proper mare who likes to be asked, not told. She showed some very quality canter work with lovely easy pirouettes.
After the canter work, Laura showed us the trot. She used lots of shoulder-in and travers in order to control the front leg expression and to keep her in front of the leg. The mare likes to trotBIG given any chance but Laura wanted to control every step in order to keep her balanced and relaxed. She performed some half-pass and then collected her back into the piaffe/ passage work which, again, showed a huge amount of promise for the future.
I think this is a very serious horse for the future, Laura certainly seemed excited to be aiming to back out at Grand Prix soon. She is a beautifully trained, sympathetic rider which really shone through in the way she rode such an obviously sensitive horse.