By A-level English student Lucy Brazier
Top riders from the New Zealand eventing team came to Hartpury this week to benefit from our world-class Equine facilities.
Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Tim Price, Caroline Powell, Jonelle Richards, Lucy Jackson, Megan Heath, Lizzie Brown and Jesse Campbell were all at the college fine-tuning their preparations for upcoming major four star events, with the Rolex Kentucky Three Day in April and Badminton Horse Trials in May.
The London 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning team usually train at Hartpury twice a year, having supported the college from its very early days.
Now Hartpury Equine boasts four indoor arenas, two outdoor arenas, an Equine Therapy Centre and cross-country schooling facilities. The New Zealand Equestrian High Performance Coach, Erik Duvander – a former Swedish Olympian – has witnessed Hartpury’s transformation.
He said: “We’ve always heavily supported the Hartpury events, right since the very beginning when there was just a novice track. Things have massively changed since then and our riders love competing and training here.
“It’s an excellent set-up here, the facilities are great and we always get looked after really well. This is a fantastic arena and the jumping facilities are perfect for us. Plus it is slightly warmer than outside!
“It’s good for the horses to experience different set-ups and different arenas in preparing them for competitions.
“We get all the support we could possibly need and we never close the doors on our training. We are more than happy for any students and staff to come along and watch.”
The team’s training day schedule is co-ordinated by Hartpury’s Equine Director, Philip Cheetham, with staff and students helping with building the course and other support functions during the team’s time here.
This week’s training session also doubled up as an owners’ day, with many of the owners not having seen their horses in action since the end of last season. The day provided an opportunity for them to see the progress their horses are making and to talk with Erik and his team.
Erik added: “The first half of the year, our major focus is on Badminton and Kentucky. Our preparations will always be aimed at the four star events but we train to win, and to win everything. The one, two and three star competitions are important too as preparation for the big championships.”
Hartpury’s Head of Equine Centre, Philip Cheetham, said: “It’s always a pleasure to host the New Zealand team here and we’re happy to do everything possible to ensure they can get the maximum benefit from our facilities.
“We wish them all the best with their upcoming events and look forward to seeing them compete at our own top class events in the summer.”
Hartpury Equine will run the Hartpury Festival of Dressage in July and the NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials in August.
Hartpury College is one of the UK’s leading land-based and sports colleges. The campus covers more than 360 hectares and is located near to Gloucester and Cheltenham. The college is one of the world’s largest equine education facilities and regularly wins national titles in rugby, football, netball and golf.
Hartpury is an Associate Faculty of the University of the West of England (UWE) and has 1,500 students completing foundation degrees, honours degrees and postgraduate qualifications in equine, sport and animal and land studies. The college also has 1,600 students studying A Levels, BTEC Diplomas and short courses.
The college was awarded ‘Outstanding College' status by Ofsted for its further education courses and facilities in November 2009 and ‘Outstanding’ for residential provision in 2012.