Dressage World Still Turns Outside London, Cousins Wins 2012 Hickstead Dressage Masters
As London dominates the media's attention, for the dressage greats sitting in 4th and 5th spot within their nation, the Grand Prix international calendar continues and while not fighting it out for gold, the recent 5-star competitions are still producing some great results. Great Britain’s Emily Cousins is new to the Grand Prix circuit, but her recent win in Hickstead shows that team Great Britain have plenty of young talent waiting in the wings!
"I was really thrilled with the win at Hickstead...Solo was a very good boy and I was really pleased with how it all went," says 22 year-old Emily.
Taking out the 2012 Dressage Masters Large Tour Final (CDN) just ahead of Australia's Rozzie Ryan, Emily finished with a 70.38% test on her 13 year-old bay Warmblood, Solo Batchelorette.
"I have had solo for 7 years now, (since he was 6), and I have brought him on myself through all the levels under the guidance of my trainer Sarah Millis, who I have been training with for 10 years. Solo was quite a handful when he was younger, and it has been a very steep learning curve for me, especially as he was my first young horse, and I was only 16 years old when I got him. After a couple of years mostly training at home, we began to compete internationally at both Junior and Young Rider level, and were included in the European Championship teams, qualifying for the Young Rider World Cup Final. This year has been our first season at Grand Prix, with our first International U25 Grand Prix and International Senior Grand Prix competitions. We have recently returned from competing at the prestigious Aachen CHIO in the U25 Grand Prix class."
Having only been competing at Grand Prix level for just over 9 months, Emily knows she still has a lot to learn before she takes to the Olympic arena, but will still be there supporting her fellow dressage greats from team GB.
"Unfortunately, as much as I'd love to be, I'm not riding in London...just going to watch! As I have said we are still very new to this level and I don't think we have the experience required for the Olympics just yet.”
But her win in hickstead is an encouraging result, particularly as it was their debut ride to music!
"As it was the first time we had ridden the music test I was delighted that we were in time with the music the whole way through - it all seemed to work well and I had some very positive feedback from the judges, which is always nice. Solo felt like he was really 'with me' the whole way through the test - he was focused. I'm very lucky that as a horse he doesn't really have any weak points. He's very talented and he finds everything from passage to the one times pretty straight forward. I was pleased that the test flowed nicely with good transitions, and the balance in the basic way of going is also starting to come better and better. He is a very exciting horse, and I know he still has so much more to offer."
Graduating from Bristol University with a degree in Neuroscience just last year, Emily is glad she can now enjoy having more time to put into Solo and his training.
"I think the completion of my degree has made a huge difference to my relationship with Solo, and we now have a very close partnership. I am now riding and teaching full time and I'm loving it!"
And while she won't make the olympic centreline in London, time flies, and perhaps Brazil will be more her style!
"I hope to keep training more, and keep getting better and better... Who knows..maybe we will make it to Rio in 4 years time!"
Text by Sarah Warne for Eurodressage.com
Photos © Astrid Appels
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