Germany’s Bettina Hoy is no stranger to Mitsubishi Motors Badminton and needs little introduction – this will be her sixth appearance here, her first having been 32 years ago with a horse called Peacetime. Bettina has represented Germany at nine European Championships, five World Championships and three Olympic Games. It will be a third start for her ride this year, Designer 10; the pair placed 5th in 2015 and in the top 20 last year.
I love coming to Badminton, there is no event quite like it. Even though I only have one horse to compete, this year will be busy because I am the Dutch eventing coach and Alice Naber-Lozeman is riding (sadly Tim Lips has withdrawn), plus Merel Blom and Andrew Heffernan are currently on the Wait List.
They are all experienced riders so I won’t be looking to impose my way of doing things on them – now is not the time to change things anyway. It will be more a case of explaining how and why I do what I do, and helping as much or as little as each of them want.
So far their preparations have gone pretty much according to plan – as have mine. Designer 10 is a lovely horse, and pretty experienced now. He’s 13 years old, by a stallion called Dali X out of a thoroughbred mare, and I have been riding him since 2009 when I bought him from the breeder. He caught the eye of a good friend, who coincidentally is our new team show jumping trainer, Markus Döring, and Markus thought that he was a very talented young horse and just my type.
We spent last winter working a lot on his dressage and even, rather unexpectedly, did our first Prix St Georges together – I had entered another horse which I suddenly couldn’t take so ‘Hasi’ had two weeks to crack tempi changes and pirouettes. Being such a good learner we finished 5th which was incredibly exciting.
I should explain why Designer 10 is called Hasi at home – Hasi is German for ‘bunny’ and I did NOT choose the name, it was given to him by my groom, Laura. One day someone asked me how Hasi was and I said ‘who’s Hasi’? When I found out it was Designer 10 I was horrified – but they proved that he answered to it by hiding round the corner and calling for him. So… there wasn’t much I could do about it then, and Hasi has stuck. He does love his jumping, so maybe it’s not so daft.
Sebastian Heinze has been a big help with our dressage progress, and I also have new show jumping trainers, Markus – who found Hasi for me, and Franke Sloothaak. Hasi and I have been to lots of shows over the winter and also two team training sessions. Hans Melzer built a great, 3800m, cross country course at Warendorf for us to school around, we ran through the 4* dressage test under the watchful eye of Jürgen Koschel and finally show jumped a big track on the last day. This was all in preparation for Badminton as Fontainebleau had been cancelled and a few German riders had planned to go there for the pre-run. Now we have five German riders at Badminton this year, and we all want to be competitive!
With Christopher Bartle having been snaffled by Great Britain we are all adjusting to our new discipline trainers. Chris was such a great influence on us, as shown by Germany’s success over recent years, and I’m sure that we are all going to miss him a lot!
I arrived in the UK 3 weeks ago and have based myself at Julie Tew’s yard in Farmington, which is only about an hour from Badminton in the heart of the Cotswolds. We didn’t have the best of journeys over with the lorry breaking down on the way to Belton – which I’d chosen as my pre-Badminton run. That wasn’t ideal.
Considering Hasi spent 8 hours on the lorry the first day, then another 4 the next he was amazing in the dressage at Belton and only 2 points off the lead. He then jumped a lovely double clear in the 3* which always helps with the confidence. To make sure that I keep up with him in regards to my own fitness I am doing lots of cycling – I have a wonderful new Canyon mountain bike which makes the idea of hitting some hills less painful that it might be otherwise. You can never underestimate how important rider fitness is when taking on a course like Badminton.
Now the cross country course preview has been published I will be heading to Boomerang for a final cross country school with Andrew Nicholson, practising some of the lines as they appear from what I can see online. Russ Hardy is always so helpful, and it is the perfect final prep location.
It’s exciting to think that I will be driving to Badminton House again in just two weeks time.
Photo of Bettina & Designer 10 at Belton International © Trevor Holt