Having both started riding from an early age, Tamsin Drew and Claire Fielding are rising through the ranks to compete with Britain's elite. Now with the 2016 season starting just around the corner, they have joined the Apatchy team, taking our equestrian range along with them on their adventures.
2014-15 were big years for both Claire and Tamsin, who stepped up their game on several levels. Whilst Tamsin qualified for the National Riding Horse Trials Open 3 Day Championships, and her first CIC 1* International in 2014, Claire progressed to International level with her ex- racehorse 'You Never Said'. Not only did Claire receive her first placing at Dauntsey Intermediate, she finished the season by completing her first CIC 2* at Aldon International.
Now as the new season approaches, both are ambitious at making dreams a reality, with Tamsin aiming for a CCI1* International later in the year, and Claire striving for selection at the 2* European Championships which are held in 2017.
What age did you both start riding?
Claire: I didn’t start riding until I was 10 and that was only a few riding lessons. When I was 12 I was given a pony on loan to hack about. Then I purchased Richard when I was 14, he was an ex driving pony who I tried to jump but use to buck a lot!
Tamsin: I started riding when I was seven and my first pony was called Frostie who was 13hh with a sticking up mane! In my first hunter trial I fell off zooming around a corner after the last fence, managed to catch him and remount to come 4th!
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
Claire: I don’t have an arena at home so do all my schooling and jumping in my grass field which has a slope and different terrain. I find if they school and jump well in my field then they find the eventing competitions much easier.
I do a lot of hacking on all my horses, especially my youngsters and ex race horses, it really helps with their educational making them braver and stronger for eventing. I also do all my canter work out hacking with the different terrain and all ground conditions. This not only helps the horses balance and find their feet, it also gives me an eye for riding and galloping on all types of ground.
Tamsin: I use a training schedule which includes fitness, aims and targets. I work backwards from the targeted events to see what training we need and what additional fitness work my horse needs, I then know what to work on throughout the riding week.
In addition, I have lots of training with Sharon Hunt who holds the UK CC level 3 BE and BS in coaching, this ensures we can work on all three phases of eventing as well as working on my own areas of improvement including position, balance, core strength and fitness.
Who inspires you?
Tamsin: The legend Sir Mark Todd! - A fantastic ambassador to our sport; especially with his incredible achievement of winning Badminton and competing in two Olympics since his 8 year retirement break! As well as his riding achievements he has expanded his business enterprise with The Mark Todd Collection and giving something back to the sport and the younger generation with Mark Todd Bridging the Gap!
Claire: I love watching Piggy French ride cross country and showjumping, she has an amazing eye for a stride and keeps a super rhythm into a fence too. Tina Cook, she too is fantastic to watch cross country - especially with the way she gets so much out of her ex-racehorses.
Most memorable event in the competing world?
Tamsin: One of my most memorable events was Great Witchingham in 2012 where I was competing in the Novice on Captain. After a great dressage (in the top 3), a pole SJ and a fast clear cross country, I found out after coming through the finish I had missed out a simple fence which I hadn’t even walked! Though disappointing at the time it did make me realise that I need to ensure I know the course and am fully focused when walking the course!
Claire: We were second to Sir Mark Todd at last year’s ROR (Retrain the Race Horse) Championships at Barbury International Horse Trials and invited back on the final day to showjump in the main arena for £2,000 prize fund! It was a really big course with lots of atmosphere and all their invitees were top professionals, we jumped well until fence 5 which was facing the huge crowds and unfortunately Gamble took his eye of the fence and stopped and I landed on the floor!! I patted him, jumped back on and completed the rest of the course, trying to keep my cool! I still finished accredited 7th and picked up some prize money. I am aiming to go back this year to give it another go, and hopefully beat Mark Todd!
Any advice to young riders that want to follow their dreams like you have?
Claire: Hard work and dedication will get you there! You have to take the rough with the smooth! You only really learn from making mistakes but then that’s how you become a better rider. You can learn a lot just by watching other riders too! If you want it enough, it will happen but you have to make it happen!!
Tamsin: Follow your dreams, set yourself realistic goals to aim for and use (Pony Club, Riding Club or British Eventing) training opportunities to support you. Also try not to get too disappointed when things don’t go to plan - with horses this can happen a lot! Try using support network groups such as #twittereventing to meet similar riders, who you can share your experiences with, as well as making eventing more sociable and fun.
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