YH Finals – Thoughts from Darren Hicks & Hawtins Stud

The weekend is almost here which means we just have time to catch up with another couple of our Shearwater Young Horse contenders. The Hawtins stud were victorious last year in the four-year-old finals with Hawtins San Floriana. This year they are back to contest the six-year-old class with a previous Young Horse winner.

Can you tell me a little about the horse you have competing?

Bryony Goodwin is riding Hawtins Duchessa in the six-year-old championship. She is by Decamerone out of Hawtins Donna Lisa by Don Frederico and was bred by us at the Hawtins Stud. Hawtins Duchessa won the four-year-old Shearwater potential international dressage horse championship in 2015. She has been competed lightly since then to give her time to mature and develop her strength.

Do you have a particular aim for this class/how are you hoping it will go?

Obviously we hope to do well but it’s all about what happens on the day. It would be great to get through to the final round on Sunday when the horses are ridden by the test rider as Hawtins Duchessa, as well as having three top paces, has great rideability and gives the rider a super feeling of her potential. Whatever happens, we just want her to have a good experience.

How have you been preparing your young horse for this final?

We don’t specifically prepare our horses for the Young Horse classes. We produce our horses correctly for the long-term and if they are where they need to be at the time that the championships take place that’s great, but if not we don’t push them. Hawtins Duchessa has been focusing on training at home and spending time relaxing in the field.

What do you look for when trying to find a future young dressage horse?

As a breeder and producer of young dressage horses, my focus is on creating horses with three very good paces, good type and conformation, and lovely temperaments that are a pleasure to ride. I always strive to breed horses with a very good hind leg as this is so important. Our aim is to produce our young horses correctly so they a prepared for a long term career in dressage at the highest levels.

Do you enjoy the Young Horse classes – is there something about them you particularly like?

The Young Horse classes are a moment in time for the horses and not an end point. They do though provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the best young dressage horses in the country and for British breeders to gain valuable recognition for the quality of the horses they are producing now. They are a very good way of giving younger horses experience of the world without the pressure of performing tests fluently. This is especially pertinent for the four-year-olds. I think the classes provide the spectators with an interesting insight into the development of young horses and the chance to pick out future international champions.

Darren Hicks is competing again this year in the 4-year-old class. He also competed in this section last year with the beautiful Hennessy T.

Can you tell me a little about the horse you have competing?

She’s called Inbetwina LH and she is a 17hh bay. I backed her in May 2016 and then she had a rest. I have been riding her since November 2016 after she had a break.

Do you have a particular aim for this class/how are you hoping it will go?

She has done well this year in the Young Horse classes so I would love for her to get through to the final judging at the Nationals. I really believe in her and she has incredible movement and balance for her age. I loved her from the moment I started working with her, she has a certain presence about her that really draws me in.

How have you been preparing your young horse for this final?

I have been preparing her for this final by taking her to lots of different arenas, riding her around jumps with lots of spooky fillers and making sure she has variety in her training, as she is so young. I take her hacking lots, gentle cantering in the fields and hacking through the woods.

What do you look for when trying to find a future young dressage horse?

I look for their willingness to work with the rider. What I really look for the most is how balanced they are within the canter and the quality of it. I feel they have to be very naturally balanced in this gait to do well in the Young Horse classes.

Do you enjoy the Young Horse classes – is there something about them you particularly like?

I love competing in the Young Horse classes as I feel it’s very exciting to see what each person feels is really good quality, and then it gives you a good insight when purchasing un-broken horses. I also love that the judge gets to have a ride, which really reflects on how well you have trained the horse for its ride-ability.

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