Olympic inspiration for local dressage champions

Left, Katherine Tully with "Artic Jazz" and Jade Struthers with "Herman" at Ayton.
Left, Katherine Tully with "Artic Jazz" and Jade Struthers with "Herman" at Ayton.

FOLLOWING in the footsteps, or rather hoof prints, of the British Olympic dressage team and golden girl Charlotte Dujardin, a pair of Berwickshire trained riders have emerged victorious at the Scottish Championships.

West Blanerne’s Katherine Tully and Kelso’s Jade Struthers, who are both trained by Jane Rutherford at Beanburn, Ayton, won their respective classes beating off some tough competition in the process.

Jade, aboard her horse Arctic Jazz, took top honours in the Elementary Restricted competition in Ayrshire much to her own surprise.

She said: “I was a bit apprehensive about the result. I thought I could have done better to be honest so it was a bit of a shock when they announced me as the winner.

“I was quite nervous going into the championships as Arctic Jazz was injured a few weeks before but fortunately recovered and I couldn’t have asked for a better horse on the day.”

Katherine said it was important for a dressage rider to build up a strong relationship with their horse.

“I’d liken dressage to ballet; it’s very intricate and as well as being a tricky discipline for riders it is also quite strenuous for the horses, particularly on their hind legs.”

To impress the judges last weekend, Katherine and Dutch bred Arctic Jazz had to complete two tests to the best of their ability and having topped the leaderboard now go on to compete in the UK nationals at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

They will be joined by Jade and her horse Herman who did the business in the Advance Medium Restricted catetgory at the Scottish championships.

And like Katherine, Jade said the rider’s relationship with their horse was crucial for dressage success.

“It is quite hard to get that bond between you and the horse that’s required for dressage. I’ve spent a lot of time with Herman so he knows my voice and feels very comfortable around me. Winning in Ayrshire has given me a real confidence boost but the higher you go the trickier the competition gets and the Nationals will have the best of the best.”

Someone who is very proud of the girls’ achievements is their trainer Jane and she says their victories were well deserved.

“The success both of the girls have had this summer is a testament to all their hard work over the winter. They both take the sport very seriously and are very dedicated. With the standard of dressage so high they train two or three levels higher and ride and train their horses four times a week.”