I’ve been watching Olivia Towers’ vlogs for a while now. It is really rare to be able to get an insight into the riding and competing of someone who trains to Grand Prix let alone to visit their yard and watch them ride their young horses.. but that’s what I did yesterday!
To start off, her home/yard is what dreams are made of: post and rail paddocks along the drive and in front of the house; a barn with stables, wash area and solarium; a big horse walker; a beautiful indoor school and gardens/grounds with a literal lake in them. It actual felt a bit intrusive to be able to wander freely around the yard (it must be really strange for her parents) but I guess that is all part of being an all-sharing influencer and I really appreciated the opportunity.
Olivia rode four horses through the day. She started with Barbie, the massive (much bigger in real life than you can tell on vlogs) palomino four year old. She was pretty majestic and Olivia showed the straightforward schooling routine she does with her twice a week (alongside one hack and one lunging session).
Next up was five year old Joey; my new favourite! Olivia and her mum explained that although he looks like a chunky mini Valegro, actually he is not strong and is behind their other five YO. They said that he isn’t particularly forward or keen on schooling. I sat there wondering what you do with a horse like this when you have Grand Prix ambitions and he’s not bothered – is there a point at which you say, regardless of breeding, maybe this isn’t for him? Or do you change your plan to get him more interested and just accept that it will take longer to get there? When I asked, Libby (Olivia’s mum) confirmed that they need their horses to get to Grand Prix and that he will get there. It was amazing to see him transform after warming up and even my untrained eye could see that although he starts off in first gear, he is going to be spectacular! His schooling is not dissimilar to what Olivia does with Barbie but with higher expectations.
She showed far more lateral work with Moley, the other five year old, who (although taller and more babyish in looks) they said was far stronger.
After lunch and some free time to explore Olivia did a demo on Eagle. Her “top of the string” horse Wilf was out with a sting to the face but Eagle is competing at Inter 1 so he is pretty impressive too. Both Libby and Olivia both made it clear that Eagle and Wilf are less naturally able than the younger horses so that, combined with the fact that they are the first ones she has taken through the levels, means that the younger ones should be more successful than the older ones. Regardless, seeing Eagle’s pirouettes and the beginning of his piaffe and passage was pretty special.
So my points to take away from the day
- Warming up properly is so important – get that right and you’re setting yourself up for a good session. Joey’s demo showed exactly that.
- Transitions, transitions, transitions. I know everyone says this but I was certainly reminded today.
- Every horse has it’s own journey – I think when you’re a one horse owner it is easy to forget this but all Olivia’s horses are so different, even the ones who are the same age as each other.
- A horse doesn’t have to have natural talent to progress – though it helps.
- Every rider struggles – if you follow Olivia on social media you will know that she is very realistic and when she did her demo on Eagle she checked in with her mum regularly and was very honest about the fact that they are very much learning the Grand Prix “tricks” together, it isn’t easy.
- I REALLY want to ride in a beautiful carpet fibre, indoor arena!