Monday, 21 March 2016

Meet Jessie Vanassche - IWMT 2015 winner

Jessie (right) receiving prize from Kathryn
(photo courtesy of Uptown Eventing)
Jessie Vanassche is a determined young event rider who is truly dedicated to her sport given her base is the beautiful Isle of Wight. Last year she not only won the Ian White Memorial Trophy, but also took home the Moose trophy for completing her crosscountry round closest to the optimum time. This month she travelled over to the mainland to enjoy her prizes - a lesson with the fabulous Gill Watson and some crosscountry schooling at Aston-le-Walls. Here we find out more about her and her winning horse, DaVinci2 and how she manages to event from off the southern coast.

How long have you been eventing and what attracted you to the sport? Horses have been a massive part of my life, ever since I could walk. I enjoyed all the equestrian disciplines, and my time on a competition yard meant I kind of fell in to competing. I spent a lot of my younger days on ponies, competing on riding club teams. I think this is when I decided that eventing was the way forward for me. I started affiliated eventing in 2007.

The very handsome DaVinci 2
Tell us about your horse, DaVinci 2: He took quite a while to find. I had been loaning a 14.2hh pony and when she came up for sale I had to decide whether to buy her or find something bigger. Sadly she was sold on as I wanted a horse to last me a little longer. Although we came over to the mainland for our search, DaVinci 2 (DV) was  found right on our doorstep. Through my cousin, eventrider Sarah Holmes, I met DV's then owner who Sarah was riding for a couple of times a week. I went to try him and I absolutely loved him! Given he's quite a big build British Warmblood, you'd expect him to be a handful, but he is the perfect English gentleman and loves a cuddle. So, I've now had him for 18 months and when I bought him, my aim was to event him and qualify for the Badminton Grassroots. To my delight, we achieved a BE90 qualification last season and so I'm very excited about competing there this May. My next aim is a BE100 qualification. Smith's Lawn was my first BE100.

How do you manage to event when living 'overseas' in the Isle of Wight? It has it's challenges. I think our longest journey has to have been to Lincoln for the Riding Club Championships. This took us 6 hours from Portsmouth, excluding the ferry crossing and getting to the port. We have done this for many years now though. Ferry timings can cause a headache, not to mention the added expense to our travel costs. On a few occasions we have turned up at the terminal to see our ferry pulling out without us!  However, all my horses have coped with this unusual trip - it's like parking your lorry for a while. It's only when we're waiting for a ferry that I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to live on the mainland, but the hacking on the island is great, and you're never too far away from green land or the sea. Plus we have affiliated and local showjumping and dressage events at our yard.
Flying over jumps at Aston le Walls

Who do you train with? I train weekly with  Sarah, who is brilliant and has taught me for many years. I spent my early teenage years eventing with her and I think this is where I really caught the eventing bug. I also have monthly lessons with Nicola Buchannan (nee Jourdain) who has taught me dressage since I was 11. Recently, I've had lessons with Richard Waygood who's significantly improved DV's jumping technique.

How do you juggle eventing with other commitments? During the week, I currently juggle two part-time jobs: one in the family-owned garage and the other on my aunt's yard (Lake Farm Equestrian Centre). This is where I stable DV. Working on the yard has given me invaluable experience which I apply to my own horses. I have the weekends free to compete and I love the mix of office and outdoor work.

Jessie and Gill
What attracted you to the IWMT competition? This was the first time I had competed at Smith's Lawn horse trials. I saw the section was for amateur owner/riders and that there was more than one trophy to aim for within the class, so I thought it was worth entering. It turned out to be a successful first BE100 for us. DV went amazingly well. His showjumping was better than ever and he flew round the crosscountry course to win. It gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue at BE100 and aim for another Grassroots qualification at Badminton. My lesson with Gill was brilliant - I definitely picked up some tips for the forthcoming season.

What are your plans for the future in terms of eventing? I would like to compete at Novice level with DV and to just keep enjoying the sport. I think every amateur rider's biggest dream is to compete at Badminton.

Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd Medical and Copy Writing Services. She is a published medical, copy and equestrian writer with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.  

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

IWMT Sponsors: Meet Louise Leverton from Protexin Equine

The team at Protexin Equine Premium has been a long-standing sponsor of the Ian White Memorial Trophy, which will be held at Smith's Lawn horse trials in August. Here we meet Louise Leverton from Protexin who will be looking after their sponsorship activities this year.

Louise at Burghley last year
What is your role and how long have you worked for Protexin?
I am Territory Manager  for the central region of the UK and started with the company on 1st August last year. Before coming to Protexin I worked for an equestrian wholesalers that distributed Protexin products so this is how I got to know their brand. I feed  Protexin products to my own horse because I know and trust what they do. This is what attracted me to working with the company when the opportunity came up.

Tell us about Protexin Equine and their mission
Protexin Equine Premium is a leading range of probiotic supplements for horses and ponies of all ages and capabilities. We are dedicated to producing innovative research-based products of the highest quality. All our products carry the BETA 'NOPS' logo which means they do not contain any prohibited substances, so users can be rest assured that they can keep their horses on our products and compete with no concerns.

What are the products used for and why should horse owners use them?
The products focus on gut function, which when working correctly will help with the overall condition and wellbeing of the horse. The gut balancer is a good maintenance product containing pre and probiotics, which horses can be fed on a continuous basis as part of their daily feed. This product also works well with horses who get a bit loose with their droppings. Quick Fix is a paste version of the gut balancer and is very good for settling nerves - what we humans would understand as butterflies. It is very useful when travelling horses and even colic! Acid Ease contains the gut balancer along with antacids and kaolin to neutralise stomach acidity and this would be used in horses with gastric ulcers.

Protexin supports riders across the equestrian disciplines - tell us why you feel it is important to support riders like this?
Protexin Equine Premium has endorsed riders across all disciplines; the endorsed riders get a deal on products as well as free saddle cloths and other branded items. This is in return for them talking about and recommending our products. We appreciate that this is a tough industry so any support we can give riders will be a huge help, and vice versa. We don't have riders that are just looking for any form of sponsorship - we want to support those riders who are using, trusting, and believing in our products because this will come across when they are talking to others about our brand. We believe it is important to support riders at all levels of the sport.

How do you fill your free time, and do you ride yourself?
I have a horse of my own called Sol. He's a thoroughbred, rising 4 years, who I hope to event. However, I am bringing him on slowly and starting him again because he was bred to race and started young. I also enjoy keeping fit and do a fair amount of running, entering half marathons and mud obstacle runs such as Tough Mudders. And my very cute puppy, Bailey,  keeps me busy.

Protexin goody bags! (photo by Uptown Eventing)
Why did Protexin Equine get involved with the IWMT and what do you get out of your involvement?
I, on behalf of Protexin Equine, have chosen to be involved because I feel it is a great opportunity to  raise awareness of two fantastic charities. Plus, the fact it is named after Kathryn's late husband gives it a personal impact. I believe that these more personal events are better attended and there is usually a fantastic atmosphere because people are there to have fun and raise money. It takes some of the pressure of the competitive aspect for the amateur riders while still offering fantastic prizes. Of course, Protexin's involvement will create greater brand awareness too.

I will be attending the IWMT this year and will have products with me on the day. If anyone wants to talk to me about them or purchase items then please come along and say hello. I really want to contribute to this event and raise awareness by spreading the word. 

Kathryn White is owner and director of Cathean Ltd Medical and Copy Writing Services. She is a published medical, copy and equestrian writer with a passion for creating compelling text in collaboration with her clients. Her customers include pharmaceutical, healthcare and equestrian businesses across the world.