BETTALife®: Did you think it was a dream come true that you would ride at Badminton this year?
Hazel Towers: As a child I always wanted to do something huge like this but I was never exposed to the big events such as Badminton and Burghley as a child other than on TV so it was never in the realms of possibility when I was younger.
I actually never dreamt of Badminton/Burghley but infact Bramham, where I went when I was 6 & was eyeing up some of the “let up” fences!
The first time I ever went to Badminton was last year to help a couple of my clients doing the grassroots, I’d never seen 4/5* course before.
BL: After walking the cross country course did your plan change once you set off on Clover on Saturday?
HT: No, I rode it as I walked it the first time on Wednesday afternoon as the way I saw it with fresh eyes is the way Clover would see it on the Saturday and I know her well, I know her dislikes and preferences, so I rode it as I planned it apart from the fence coming out of the water where Clover stumbled so we opted for plan B just to keep her confidence.
BL: Which fence gave you the most to think about on the cross country course?
HT: The fence I was most concerned about or thought was the biggest, in fact it doesn’t even seem big now I’ve ridden it, was the angled bridge with the ditch in front – when I walked it I wasn’t sure how Clover would read it, the fence invited the horse out to the right (her preference) and was wide, so my plan was to just really attack and gallop at this fence which is quite terrifying!
The technical fence when I walked them, I was quite comfortable with along with the distances, I knew what my plan was.
BL: What was your first feeling when you completed the Show Jumping?
HT: Just that I’d done it!! Actually I was really cross with myself because I had the last fence down and if you have the first or the last fence down it is always the riders fault. I did come round the corner like woohoo its the last fence and annoyingly I saw that forward, but good, stride and she was careless – but she felt amazing around a difficult track.
The feeling of completing on my super pony is irreplaceable, she was awesome!
BL: Can you tell us how you stay motivated and complete your goals?
HT: I don’t find it hard at all to stay motivated, the feeling of completing any event on a horse I’ve formed a relationship with is what motivates me to do better next time, I love it. Although I’m not super competitive, as in have to be in the top 10 every time out, I love the feeling of riding a horse around cross country whether its first time out or first time round a 5* I want them to enjoy it as much as I do, it’s a team effort after all.
BL: Do you have any superstitions or rituals before you compete?
HT: My only ritual, not a ritual really, is before I go cross country I walk the course usually by myself or with James really late the night before just to get in the zone. A nice leisurely walk around the course just puts all final plans in place ready for the next day plus I can check the ground/final dressing etc.
Only other thing I do which helps me with nerves is sleep before xc! I get really sleepy so I can be known to sleep up until an hour and half before xc, the longer I can sleep the calmer I am without the hustle & bustle of everyone around getting ready and stressed. Obviously drinking tea and eating bacon sandwiches helps with the mornings relaxation and preparation.
BL: What is your favourite thing do when your not with your horses eg downtime?
HT: I find downtime really hard, I’m usually riding horses or eating and drinking. I love seeing my friends and catching up on sleeps.
BL: What are your plans & goals for the rest of 2019?
HT: Clover is heading to Bramham to have a really nice easy run round the CIC before then aiming towards Burghley in September.
Smart is now back in work following a slight stable injury early in the year, we have quietly set ourselves a goal of going to Pau with her but it does depend on how quickly she can get fit, if she isn’t ready we will aim for somewhere else.
Ive another horse Aero (owned by Emily Blaxill) I’d really like to aim him for Blenheim this year, maybe 5* next year, other than that I’ve some lovely young horses that I want to continue to progress up the ranks so as long as they are happy doing their job, I’m happy!
BL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
HT: A GB flag or represent my country would be amazing but equally it wouldn’t disappoint me not to have one, I would also love another big win at an International event but most of all I want improve, get better and keep having fun.
A yard of competitive horses is always my aim, I feel like I’ve proven I can produce horses from babies up to 5*, I’d love to be more selective and have the caliber of horse the top level professionals have, not that I haven’t got some fantastic horses at the moment because I really do, I just want to build on to what I have.
Hazel is currently searching for new owners and rides. Hazel also teaches a lot of clinics around Yorkshire. Please feel free to contact Hazel or family if this is something you’d be interested in.