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COVID-19 UPDATE: All equestrian events at Hartpury have been cancelled until 1 July 2020. All events scheduled from 1 July onwards are currently going ahead as planned.

Celebrating International Women's Day with an equestrian octet

08 Mar 2020 |

Here at Hartpury, we're lucky to work with many amazing women. On this International Women's Day, we thought we'd profile eight incredible ladies from far and away, who form an important part of the Hartpury Equine family.

CARA WHITHAM

Cara is a much-loved judge and coach. She regularly officiates at Hartpury’s major international equestrian events and voiced the live stream for last year’s Hartpury Festival of Dressage.

Nationality: Canadian, British

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: "As a high-performance coach, I work hard to help students to reach their full potential. As a judge, I like to stay current and evaluate performances as honestly as possible, supporting this with positive and encouraging comments. I am also a Course Director and like to inspire delegates and students through interesting information. I do occasionally commentate for television and live stream too, and I feel it's essential to give ‘entertaining education’. Some viewers will have a lot of technical knowledge, where others may be brand new to the sport. The challenge is to involve both and hopefully win more fans for the sport."

Top equestrian achievements: "I would have to say as a rider, being Canadian Grand Prix & Grand Prix Freestyle Champion was pretty special. Officiating at various championships for both dressage and eventing would also rank very highly."

Most inspirational women:Isabell Werth, Christilot Boylen and Liselotte Fore."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "Goodness me! I have three. Gail Greenough's individual gold medal would be the first. Canada's 1988 Olympic bronze team dressage medal was definitely another great moment. Finally, judging Edward Gal and Totalis at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Just wow."

What are you most proud of in life? "My four children and five grandchildren, plus my accomplishment as being one of the few in the world ever to hold an FEI 5* judge's card in both dressage and eventing."

Name one thing you couldn't live without: "My health."

Top goal or mantra for 2020: "Continue to stay current in my interests and help the future ‘up and comers’ find a clear road to reach their goals."

 

POLLYANN HUNTINGTON

PollyAnn Huntington is an FEI judge and Technical Delegate and a Grand Prix dressage judge. PollyAnn regularly officiates at Hartpury's major international equestrian events.

Nationality: Australian

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: "I started Delamerie Park Stud in WA (Western Australia) where we breed and produce sport horses for many ambitious riders. I’m also a state coach and have been a selector for Eventing WA since the 1990s. I have always had a keen interest in young riders, mentoring and coaching them to help them find a way to achieve their goals. I have been chair of the State Eventing Committee for nine years, am on the national eventing committee, am an FEI international judge and Technical Delegate, and a Grand Prix dressage judge. In a non-equestrian capacity, I also teach swimming to primary school children in lower socio areas and help those with special needs or those with English as a second language."

Top equestrian achievements: "My first long-format intermediate three-day event. I rode a homebred horse and found myself second-last after dressage. I managed to climb 35 places to be second after cross country and ended up third overall after a rail in the showjumping. I was also the first person in WA to breed, produce and compete homebred horses to Grand Prix successfully, with the help of Harry Boldt."

Most inspirational women: “The Queen. She seems so resilient, loves horses and has a good sense of humour. Jennie Loriston-Clarke too. She is so wise, practical and has a wonderful feel for a horse. She’s also fun and imaginative! Finally, I’d say Pippa Funnell. Her work ethic and ability to pick herself up and continually strive for great things makes her a superb role model for others."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "Nick Skelton winning gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics and the Australian eventing team winning in Sydney at the 2000 Olympic Games."

Name one thing you couldn't live without: "More than one. My husband Ian and my dogs, Coco - neurotic whippet, Chaise - a stumpy tail Red Heeler, and Sparkles the cat!”

Top goal or mantra for 2020: "For everyone to stay healthy and enjoy themselves. I’d love to officiate at a 5* too."

 

DR. KATHRYN NANKERVIS

Dr. Kathryn Nankervis set up the Equine Therapy Centre at Hartpury in 1999 and oversees all the commercial, teaching and research activity within the Equine Therapy Centre and the Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance. She is co-author, with Dr David Marlin of ‘Equine Exercise Physiology’ and she completed a DPhil on the subject of ‘Physiology and Biomechanics relating to Equine Physical Therapy’ in 2013.

Nationality: British 

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: "I’m based within the Therapy and Rider Performance Centre at Hartpury. I have a fantastic team who look after all our equine residents in rehabilitation and manage all the equine and human outpatients. My role now is about trying to drive forward the research that supports, so for example, with colleagues at the Animal Health Trust we are trying to figure out the long term effects of water treadmill exercise on performance horses, and with my PhD student, Celeste Wilkins, we are investigating what dressage rider ‘technique’ actually entails. I call it the ‘how to sit on a horse’ PhD."

Tell us about your top equestrian achievements: "We have been providing treatment and rehab for horses within the Therapy Centre for 20 years. Every good result could count as my top equestrian achievement aside from the fact that we’ve done it for so long. Having people tell me they have read or used some of my work and it has helped them has to be another top feeling of satisfaction. Finally, Princess Anne being given a copy of ‘Equine Exercise Physiology’ written by David Marlin and myself, and her response being ‘I already have it’."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "Definitely sitting with my team in the office watching Charlotte (Dujardin) and Valegro 'do it again' in Rio after we'd all followed Alan and the horses on the road to London and Rio from the side of our water treadmill."

Most inspirational women: “The women from Ford at Dagenham whose strike instigated the Equal Pay Act. Comedian Victoria Wood and British athlete Dina Asher-Smith too."

What are you most proud of? “Just being able to do something I love for work. It’s a real privilege."

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “8 hours sleep a night! I’m envious of people who can manage 3-4 hours. Think of what you could get done."

Top goal or mantra for 2020: “I don’t do ‘top goals’ anymore. Aren’t you supposed to have lots of little ones so they are easier to reach? In other words, too many to mention."

 

KATHERINE LUCHESCHI 

Katherine is an FEI judge in eventing and para dressage and will officiate at Hartpury this summer.

Nationality: Italian, British

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: "I am a tutor and examiner for national eventing and para dressage courses and teach as a consultant for other instructors. I have also held the role of Senior Team Manager for the Italian eventing team from 2009-2010 and 2017-2020. I have been married for 38 years and have two wonderful daughters. Finally, I am an FEI level 3 judge for eventing and an FEI 5* para dressage judge."

Tell us about your top equestrian achievements: "I passed my Pony Club A test at 16 before going on to attain my BHSI qualification. I have ridden in all disciplines, training dressage to Grand Prix level and training horses to Olympic level in eventing."

Most inspirational women: "All female para athletes. It’s truly a privilege to witness this group of women who are capable of surpassing the difficulties between them and their goals. Also, Franca Lucheschi, an example and inspiration for all she achieved in the Second World War, a nun who saved many people and kept her gift of faith."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "This is renewed every time I am lucky enough to be looking at horses."

What are you most proud of? “My family, husband Edoardo and daughters Ilaria and Alessandra."

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “The love and support of my family."

Top goal or mantra for 2020:I am truly honoured to be judging para dressage at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo and my mantra is to be truly thankful."

 

SUE CUNNINGHAM

Sue Cunningham is Vice President of Dressage New South Wales. Sue is another highly valued official at Hartpury's major international equestrian events.

Nationality: Australian

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: "From an Australian point of view I am Vice President of Dressage New South Wales, responsible for judge education for both able body and para dressage events. The development of para dressage is also part of my duties for Equestrian Australia. I am responsible for Judge Education in Malaysia for the last 15 years and Singapore for some 10 years. I am a Level 2 Dressage Coach and Assessor under the National Australian Coaching System. Internationally I am an FEI PD 5* Judge which provides me with an opportunity to judge at many international events."

Tell us about your top equestrian achievements: "My top equestrian achievement to date is judging at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon for the para-equestrian events in 2018. Being elected to the FEI PE Technical Committee and then being assigned the task of writing the new para dressage tests with Marco Orsini from Germany was also special. These include not only the current tests that will be used at the Tokyo Paralympic Games but also the Introductory and Novice tests now used worldwide. I was also fortunate to be invited to be the President of the Appeals Committee for the South East Asian Games in Myanmar, responsible for the Endurance, Showjumping and Dressage disciplines."

Favourite equestrian moment: “There have been many, and some as simple as riding my horse at 5.00 am with my coach from the UK and having the most amazing ride, to hearing my name announced representing my country for the first time in Belgium at a CPEDI3* event. Being promoted to FEI PE 5* judge and an International Judge Educator for para dressage would also be right up there."

Most inspirational women: “Jennie Loriston-Clarke. I was fortunate to have lessons with her on her visits to Australia. She’s such a talented and forward-thinking lady. Carolyn Lieutenant OAM, Australian Olympic dressage rider, coach, mentor and para dressage coach. She took the Australian Paralympic team to two Olympics and was responsible for my introduction to para dressage judging. Last but not least, my mother. Fierce, competitive, so positive, encouraging and generous with her time, knowledge and love."

What are you most proud of? “I ran my own successful business for many years, I have three wonderful daughters who are raising delightful, intelligent and beautiful children of their own. I have a successful 40-year partnership with my husband and I am fulfilling my dreams and passions with my equestrian endeavours at this latter part of my life when others might be thinking of retirement - not I!”

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “There are many things in life that would be difficult to forgo but love and laughter would be hard to live without."

Top goal or mantra for 2020: “I have been invited to judge at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and my goal is to enjoy this moment, judge to the best of my ability and come away from the event feeling confident I had represented my country and myself in the best light."

 

ROBYNE NAYLOR

Robyne is an FEI Steward who regularly officiates at Hartpury’s Festival of Dressage.

Nationality: New Zealand

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: “I am a Level 1 FEI Steward for dressage and para dressage based in New Zealand. Internationally I am called 'Kiwi'. As a steward, our motto is “help, prevent, intervene’ in that order. A steward’s role is first and foremost to ensure horse welfare and the safety of horse and rider and to make sure it is an even playing field for all. We may not keep all the rules in our head but we know where to find them. When not wearing my Stewards hat my career has also been equestrian based. I have been involved in nearly every aspect of the travel industry. For the last thirty years, I have organised and sometimes escorted tours to major Equestrian events worldwide."

Tell us about your equestrian achievements and background: “My career with horses has been most uninspiring. My first horse was a four-year-old Thoroughbred straight off the track. Not one of my wisest decisions, and unsurprisingly I went on to break several bones in the following years. I had very little equine knowledge in those days. I went to one competition only and after many ‘round the ring’ classes I was the only one without a ribbon. The judges were feeling a little sorry for me so they introduced another class. I won that one - my first red ribbon. The class was for cleanest gear and that sure as hell wasn’t true. I never competed after that. I became a happy hacker and I was never more content than being on the back of my horse - at the beach or in the high country enjoying seeing the world between the ears of my horse. Best view ever."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "Easy. I have been extremely fortunate to have seen the best riders in all disciplines compete at the highest level - every one was special.”

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “My involvement with horses and my three stupid dogs who keep me sane or are maybe driving me insane. Not sure. Sad to say, I'm also quite dependent on my phone these days.”

Most inspirational women: "I'm not sure I could name one or even three women who have inspired me. There are just far too many out there. All those strong, determined, dedicated and focused female riders pursuing their passion and at the top of their game. A cliched answer would have been my mother who encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do in the days when my generation left school and the girls mainly became teachers or nurses - two careers I had no interest in. She was a woman before her time and was happy for me to pursue less traditional female roles. An engineer, a pilot, mechanic, doctor or lawyer. Of course, I didn't do any of them either but appreciated the support in choosing the career I eventually did. As for horses, my mother didn't know what end the grass went in.”

Top goal or mantra for 2020: “At this stage, getting through the year without contracting Covid-19! Four years ago the universe advised me via two serious riding accidents that maybe tiddlywinks would be a much safer pastime for me. Subsequently, I haven't been on a horse since. However, there is a lovely quiet, safe boy in my paddock. I might have to put my big girl bloomers on and get back in the saddle. Watch this space.”

 

NICKY SALMON

Nicky is an FEI and British Eventing Steward who will officiate at this summer’s FEI Eventing and Dressage European Championships for Young Riders and Juniors.

Nationality: British

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: “I am retired but I am still an FEI and British Eventing steward at 15 events throughout the season. I have also been a thoroughly enthusiastic event horse owner along the way."

Tell us about your equestrian achievements: “I have had so many great days as an event horse owner. Winning the 4* (now 5*) at Luhmuhlen Horse Trials with Mr Cruise Control and finishing in 2nd place in the 4* (now 5*) at Badminton Horse Trials with Lord Killinghurst would top the list. Both were ridden by Andrew Nicholson."

Favourite equestrian moment: "Winning Luhmuhlen Horse Trials with Mr Cruise Control (ridden by Andrew Nicholson). It was a truly special week and one I’ll never forget."

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “Oh, easy. Gin!”

What are you most proud of? “My family”.

Most inspirational women: "My mother, Annelli Drummond-Haye, and Susannah Hext."

Top goal or mantra for 2020: “To do my job at events to the best of my ability and to help make the competitors, owners and associates enjoy their experience”.

 

MEGAN BATCHELOR

Megan is Hartpury’s Equine Events Coordinator. She runs the centre’s dressage and showjumping competitions and is a Hartpury graduate.

Nationality: British

Tell us about your current roles in equestrianism: “I am an Equine Events Coordinator at Hartpury so manage trade stand bookings, organise and run affiliated and unaffiliated dressage and showjumping shows, and assist with the general management of all events. It’s a very versatile job and no two days are the same. We’re a small team at Hartpury but work together really well, working hard to be the best equestrian venue for competitors, owners and spectators."

Tell us about your equestrian achievements: “Representing my local riding club as a junior (Halesworth & District Riding Club) in the Riding Club National Championships at Bury Farm was special. I also remember winning the Queach Farm Stables unaffiliated dressage league in 2007/2008 and 2011/2012. That was a huge deal for me at the time. I also re-schooled an ex racehorse which I found incredibly rewarding. More recently, I studied a Foundation Degree in Equestrian Performance, a BSc in Equine Management and an MSc in Equine Science."

Most inspirational women: "Grace Beverley, a young entrepreneur who I have followed on social media for quite a few years, successfully graduated from Oxford and has also established three sustainable businesses which have taken off. Mary King would be my other inspirational woman. Growing up, she was a huge idol of mine and a rider I looked up to."

Favourite equestrian moment ever: "The 2012 London Olympics, watching the British Showjumping team ride to victory."

What are you most proud of? “Completing a Masters Degree as this is something I never thought I’d be able to do. Going to university was never originally in my plans, I was always going to head out and groom instead. An open day at Hartpury completely changed my mind and I’m glad it did”.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: “Recently I have realised I wouldn’t be the person I am without my friends and family, they are everything and I couldn’t be without them."

Top goal or mantra for 2020: “I’d say ‘make it happen’ - that’s saved as my phone screensaver. A big goal of mine more generally is to buy my own house."