Here is Jessica’s Bio:
My name is Jessica Gale and I am a 17 year old dressage rider. I transferred from showjumping to dressage in 2010 after meeting Rebel who I ended up training from a prelim horse to an international winner. In 2011 we found Neukey who was the horse I represented GB with for the first time. After only riding him for 6 months we won our first international on the Spring Tour 2012. In July 2012 I was selected for the European team but unfortunately had to pull out due to Neukey sustaining an injury. It was a devastating time as I had come so close to being a team member in my first year in juniors but I picked myself up and started concentrating on training Rebel up for the GB squad and in July 2013 we ended up winning the Kapellen International in Belgium. I brought Neukey back into full work over the winter of 2012/13 and we concentrated on strengthening him and he got better and better every day and ended up winning the Hickstead International in July 2013 where Rebel was also second best Brit behind Neukey in the class. Over the winter I am hoping to start competing Neukey at PSG and, now that Rebel has been sold to a lovely home, we are now on the lookout for a young horse that I will be able to take to Grand Prix. I am hoping to combine my education and my riding by doing a Geography Degree at university. Short term, I hope to be selected with Neukey for the European team next year as it will be my last year in juniors. Long term though I hope to, one day, represent my county at an Olympic games and possibly even stand on that podium with a medal round my neck!
1.When did you first start riding Dressage?
Originally I was a show jumper but I started getting hooked when a dressage trainer told me my showjumping pony would never do dressage so I decided to prove her wrong! I started competing In dressage in 2010 when I found Rebel, my 16hh Hanoverian gelding who I ended up training to junior international level.
2.Who are you training with now?
I train with Matt Hicks and I also am based with him as well. He is a great trainer and rider and always gets the best out of me and my horses as well as pushing me to keep improving.
3. What is a typical lesson day like for you and your horse?
After I’ve warmed up Matt and I will work together on different things. We like to do different things each day. So we might work on individual movements, test riding or more advanced work like piaffe or passage. After my lesson I take Neukey for a walk around the gallops to cool him off.
4.How long do you warm up your horse?
Normally between 15-20 minutes although I don’t have a set time frame I start by stretching them and making sure they are forwards then I move to transitions and making sure they are in front of my leg and finally I do lots of leg yields, travers and shoulder in to encourage them to be soft and supple. I only finish when I feel the horse is in front of my leg, listening and is moving softly. Normally this tends to take around 15 mins but sometimes it can take a whole session!
5.Do you trail ride with your horse?
I trail ride every day after a session for 15 minutes to allow the horse to cool down and have a leg stretch. 2-3 times a week I also do a longer hack which includes walking and trotting up hills and a long canter to strengthen the horses.
6.Do you turn out your horse.
Yes! I believe that turn out is really important as it lets the horses stretch their legs and gives them some chill time.
7.Who is your biggest influence in your riding?
It’s a tie between my mum and my trainer Matt. Mum is amazing in that she is so supportive and is incredibly knowledgable. She encourages me to be very professional in the way I train and compete as well as encouraging me to be ultra-organised. Matt has been a key influence to me because of his invaluable support and training. We work together in all aspects of my riding and he has a huge amount of experience and knowledge which I am very grateful he passes on to me.
8.What is the most important advice you can give other riders starting in Dressage?
Just give it a go! It will go wrong at times but there will also be times where it seems it all comes together!
9.Tell us about your horse.
Rebel is a 16hh Hanoverian gelding who was my first dressage horse. We got him as a 5 year old and I’ve trained him from prelim to junior international winner. He is a super horse and he has now been sold to a lovely family where they will both learn loads from each other.
10.Who are your favorite riders and why?
I have two! The first is my trainer Matt Hicks as I admire his ability to test ride and get the best out of every horse he rides. The second is Laura bechtolsheimer because of her ability to ride the big and long horses in the advanced movements which require a lot of collection and make it look easy. She has also combined riding with a degree which is also what I want to do and it proves it can be done!
11. Tell us about your parents and how they are involved in your riding career.
I have no idea what I would do without my mum! She drives me to the yard daily and is also the lorry driver. She helps me to do the horses at shows and is extremely knowledgable.
12. Is it your goal to be in the Olympics someday?
Definitely! It has been my dream ever since I started dressage. I am on the excel talent squad which is for potential Olympians and they have helped me to hone in on my Olympic goal and to develop steps towards achieving it. As I trained Rebel up to PSG/small tour I am now looking for a young horse that I can train to Grand Prix and will maybe be my Olympic partner!
13. It takes hard work and dedication to be committed in riding Dressage. Tell us how you deal with this kind of commitment to be where you are at today.
The first thing I have is my long and short term goals which are based on the horse and the stage they are at. The goals help me to develop a training programme for each horse and allow me to focus not only on the final goal. Organisation is key when combining both school and riding. I have to make sure I don’t get behind on my school work when I ride and make sure I do the work in advance when I go away to internationals.
14.What is your favorite dressage movement and why?
Probably the canter zig zag in the Grand Prix. It’s a really difficult movement and is so exact and tricky that the horse needs to be very submissive and on the aid but when it goes right it feels amazing!
15.Do you like riding to music?
I love it! Neukey has the soundtrack from the King Arthur film and it fits so well. The feeling you get when all the transitions or change of movement fit to the music is amazing!
16.What can you tell riders about reaching their goals?
Make them achievable there’s no point in your goal being that you want to get to Grand Prix next week when you know it’s not achievable. Have one big, long term goal and then have little goals that work towards your long term goal and that can be achieved weekly or monthly.
17. What are your goals with your horse this year?
I hope to qualify for the winter championships in April and then after that my main goal is the Europeans. Over the winter I am going to be concentrating on the PSG work with Neukey so I can hopefully do my first competition at PSG in December or January