This month we interviewed Dan Bizzarro for our website readers
Born and raised in Italy, transferring to Britain to pursue his professional riding career, Dan Bizzarro is without doubt the one to watch on the eventing circuit for 2018.
We were lucky enough, before the season really swings into action, to ask him a few questions on how British equestrianism differs from that in Italy, how he got on working for William Fox-Pitt and to learn a little about his current team of horses.
How do you think Britains equestrian culture differs from that in Italy?
It’s completely different in Great Britain – you realise that just talking to people. You can go anywhere in Italy and talk about football and people will know and understand. Comparatively, you can go anywhere in England and talk about horses – people either have horses themselves, or they know of someone who rides. Equestrianism is very popular in this country, unfortunately not so in Italy. There’s a lot more history of success in this country that’s been carried on. At the beginning of last century, everyone was looking up at Italian riders who were winning medals at championships, but unfortunately, that’s been lost.
What do you miss most about home?
My family and my friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to go home enough last year. I went back home in January this year but hadn’t been at home for a year at this point. My New Years Resolution is actually to make sure I go home more often. I’m going for 3 days in 2 weeks time which I’m really looking forward to. I miss the food – Italian restaurants in England just aren’t the same!
How was your time spent when working for William and what did you take away from the whole experience?
It was very hard work but so worth it. I was there as a rider, whilst also working on the yard. It was useful to help me improve my riding, I learned from riding with him and watching him exercising. I also had a chance to learn a lot about management of the yard and the horses from him and Jackie, his head girl. The main thing I learned is about the organisation, managing the horses and planning.
Do you have a mentor or coach, if so what’s the most important piece of advice that they have given you?
My showjumping trainer, Paul Hulburd, is my mentor. The best piece of advice he’s taught me is to always be patient and make sure that you focus on the horses way of going and find a way to support and help them to improve it.
Which horses will you be campaigning this year and which are you most excited about?
At the moment I’ve got Digbe, my ex-racehorse (who will aim for the 6 year old championships) and a couple of 4 year olds which will do age classes and hope to qualify for the Burghley Young Event Horse. I sold 5 competition horses last year so am currently looking for my next string. Got a great sponsor who’s looking to buy some horses for me so we’re going to Spain in 2 weeks time to look at some more.
Will you stay in GB or do you intend to return to Italy at some point?
Definitely, still in England, my life is here now.
What do you do out of the saddle to keep fit and do you follow a healthy eating plan?
I do try to go and run as much as I can. I enjoy putting some music on and going for a run around the village on the nice quiet lanes. I don’t have a strict diet but I do pay attention to what I’m eating to ensure it’s balanced. I don’t eat ready made food. I try to cook as much as I can and buy lots of meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables. I do have a diet rich in protein.
What advice would you give to someone who is having problems with a nappy horse?
Make sure he’s in front of the leg, the main thing for any horse is to respect the leg. When a horse is in front of a leg, you’ve got a lot more chance of sorting problems. If a horse is nappy they generally don’t respect and know they can take advantage. Establish the respect, not so the horse is afraid, but so the relationship between horse and rider and the trust is as good as can be.
How do you build a bond with your horses? Is it time in the saddle or on the ground? What advice would you give to others who are having trouble bonding?
For me it’s time spent in the saddle. Unfortunately, I don’t have lots of time to spend with them on the ground. I make sure I have enough time for each horse to work well, I hate to be in a rush. If a horse needs to spend more time under saddle with me I make sure I offer that. I always make sure I give them variety, lots of people just go in the arena and jump and do flatwork, I like to go out into the country, hacking round the lanes and doing hill work. It offers so many benefits. It really depends on what the problem is. The worst thing a rider can feel is the sense of being lost; lost in direction and not knowing what to do or how to feel. Regular tuitions from a good experienced trainer can really help, and don’t rush it. Make sure you spend enough time bonding.
What do you feel is the most beneficial training exercise for young horses starting a career in Eventing?
Spend hours and hours working on a 20m circle – because when you feel that your horse is comfortably walking, trotting and cantering in a 20m circle, everything is working well. Work on both reins so you have an evenly strong and balanced horse. At the beginning, it will feel like you need to support every stride, then the horse starts to become more balanced and is strong enough to support himself. If the horse is not balanced or strong enough, he’s going to struggle jumping course of fences or going cross country.
Follow Dan on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Daniele-Bizzarro-Eventing-353040928063886/ or visit his website now http://www.dbeventing.co.uk.