This month we catch up with Alltech brand ambassador, Lara Edwards, where she talks about her current team of top horses, her passion for breeding and her hopes for the future, all of which she juggles with bringing up her young family.
Tell us about your yard set-up and your current horse line-up.
At the moment I am based at my parent’s yard which is half shared with my brother and his family and my horses. We have our own separate areas and grooms.
My two top horses are, Jazzed up (Felix), who is by the British bred stallion Jazz and Bodyguard Moorland (BG), KWPN Approved stallion by Gribaldi. Felix is currently competing at Small Tour level and BG at Medium Tour.
I have a couple of exciting four-year-olds including, Toute Suite (Mia) who is half-sister to Felix and by Totilas, and Kiki a homebred by Bodyguard.
Huge congratulations on your success during July’s CDI Deauville competition in France. Jazzed Up went so well for you, getting better as the week went on! Can you tell us a little more about the horse and your hopes for the future with him?
Felix was given to me to ride as a six-year-old and I was under the impression that he was rather tricky to break in and being by Jazz, exceptionally sharp. I fell in love with him and spent a few months doing natural horsemanship with him and he is now one of the best horses I have ever ridden. Every day he puts a smile on my face. Although still sharp, he always feels like he lets me tell him it’s ok and he just gets on with it.
How many members of staff do you have and what do they all do?
I have two members of staff and they deal with the day to day running of the yard and all the tacking up, untacking etc. On my days off they will hack or lunge the horses, although not Felix he’s my baby!
When days are tough, how do you motivate yourself?
Enter another competition! Competing gives me a real buzz.
Over the past decade the industry has seen a steep rise in home breeding for competition, how do you feel this has changed the shape of the industry? Are horse and rider relationships now stronger?
I think this is the case because the price of buying a good quality horse has just rocketed, which no one can afford, so they feel they need to breed their own. I still have a bug bear about people paying for semen from Germany or Holland as they feel the quality is better, but they don’t realise there are Dutch stallions standing in the UK.
Predominately your business has focussed on breeding for many years, how difficult is it running a stud and competing professionally?
It isn’t too bad for us as we don’t breed a lot, just a couple a year and to date the ones I have bred have been a bit quiet or small for me so I have had to sell them on, although this year we have three that will be staying with me.
What is your favourite aspect of breeding?
The first sit on a horse you have bred yourself, especially when it is by your own mare and stallion, is extremely rewarding.
How do you feel British breeding is different from European breeding?
In Europe they are more stringent about which mares are allowed to breed, concentrating on those with good breeding themselves or those who have shown themselves to have been successful, which is why generally the quality of horses are better on the continent however, this isn’t the case for my little breeding plan.
What are your professional goals for the next three years?
I would love to secure international selection at senior level at Grand Prix with Bodyguard and the same with Felix, plus being competitive with the young horses coming through. As well as set up a little team of horses and owners.
Which noble steed would you say is the most able to take you to where you want to be and why?
Felix, because of his ability and how he is always with me. It makes him such a fun horse to ride and train.
Since having your second child you’ve bounced back as fierce as ever, how do you juggle motherhood and equestrianism?
Now, this is the side people don’t see of me, with one child it was really quite easy as she just came with me but with two it’s very different and I really have struggled with guilt! I rely heavily on family to help with the girls and can’t do anywhere near as much competing as I would like to, as it involves been away for too many nights.
My husband also works away a bit so it is certainly far from easy and a daily juggling act, believe me!
Where did the equestrian line start in your family? Have any of your relatives been successful in the saddle and/or with breeding?
My brother started riding when he was about seven with a donkey that we loaned off Cleethorpes beach and it started from there.
My brother and my sister, Nicola, both did Pony Club and were very competitive, with my brother going on to event up to advanced level until he started a family. They all still ride now including my five nephews and nieces. Breeding is more my father’s hobby and something he loves to watch, as they turn into my next future stars.
Why dressage? Do you focus on other disciplines at home too?
I have always loved dressage. I had a difficult pony so I had to have numerous dressage lessons over four or five years and then when I moved on to a horse we were quite successful at it so I just carried on from then. I do jump and hack all the horses for fun but I don’t see myself as an eventer again anytime soon.
What has been your biggest learning curve with horses to date?
Enjoy a win! At any level and anywhere, as with horses one day you are winning at the nationals and the next they can roll in the field and cut open a leg and be off for months.
How would you say having children has changed your career and will you encourage them to take up the sport?
I wouldn’t really say it has changed my career just maybe slowed it down a little! I won’t be pushing them as I was never pushed but if they are anything like me it’s in their blood so I don’t think it will take much encouragement. Judging by the last year or so with Annabelle, she has definitely caught the bug as she wants to do it more than time allows!
Who is your best friend and why?
This is a really hard one as I have a handful of really close friends, some I don’t see for months due to our busy schedules but I know they are always there. I also know if I ever needed anything those handful are only a phone call away. I confess I am not the best of best friends as there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Are you able to tell us more about your ‘mind coaching days’ how did they come about and what do they involve?
This came about from my eventing days when I was so close to hanging up my boots and giving up completely. I lost confidence show jumping at intermediate level eventing and just decided I was no longer enjoying it for fear and nerves. When I said I was taking a break, I was encouraged to go and see a Mind Coach, and it all started there. He was totally amazing and we got on so well and I responded to his advice he thought I should become a coach myself so an ILM level 7 qualification later, that’s what I did.
My coaching days are a chance to share my experiences and techniques to others in a similar position.
In a recent social post, you talked about your ‘toolbox of techniques’, what’s in your box of goodies and how do you find each tool helps you succeed?
This would be telling, come on a one-day programme and I will show you! Basically, it is made up of a lot of NLP, emotional resilience and cognitive behaviour all rolled into one.
What coaching tips do you feel are the most important to a new horse and rider combination?
Firstly, don’t be frightened to ask for help from your trainer. In the early stages of any new partnership it’s important you get off to a good start. Set realistic goals about what you want to achieve and have a plan.
How is the remainder of 2019 looking, where can we expect to see you next?
Busy, nationals in September, a couple more internationals before the end of the year, and Annabelle is keen to get involved as much as possible with The Pony Club, as well as Emily starting at nursery, and Gary has just had a promotion at work too! It never stops.
While it really seems to be onwards and upwards for Lara, we wanted to send a huge thanks to her for taking the time out to answer our questions.
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For further information visit www.lifeforcehorse.co.uk