RiDER OF THE DAY: Fiona Hobby - 15 September 2011

Wiltshire-based Fiona competes at International 4**** level and was 7th in the Blenheim Horse Trials CCI*** last year. She was placed 2nd at the Express Eventing Qualifier at The Lincolnshire Show. 


1: How old were you when you started riding, who introduced you to riding and which was your first horse?
My mother Phyllida Cassan introduced me to riding before I can really remember, I hold her responsible! My first horse was called Marty, he was handed down to me from my two older sisters, Jenny Cassan and Tina Fletcher.

2: How did you choose the music for the dressage to music phase?
I was very happy with my own selection of classical music but my good friend dressage rider Steph Eardley decided that was way too boring and hence came up with the music we use now!

3: Do you think horses enjoy the music, and do you feel it makes a difference to their/your performance?
Yes I think the horses definitely enjoy the music, adding music to the test makes it harder to ride in some ways as not only do you have to think about perfecting the movements you also have to ride to the music and get the timing right. Any mistake the horse makes can put the timing out for the rest of the test – as happened to me at the Express Evening qualifier at the Game Fair riding my other horse Smart Approach.

4: How much practice did the dressage to music phase take?
Much more than I thought it would! It was made more challenging as we only have a 20x40m at home to practice in!

5: What has been your most memorable moment of the Express Eventing 2011 Series so far?
The final halt salute at Lincoln after my dressage, as I bowed my head to salute a torrent of water fell off my hat from the horrific rain storm we had just ridden in! I was delighted to come 2nd there and qualify but would have loved to have won, we did everything we could to put the pressure on the eventual winner but he didn’t crack (sadly!).

6: Who would be in your dream multi-national Olympic eventing team?
I think the British team we have right now is pretty good, however I guess if it is to be multi-national you would have to have Michael Jung, William Fox-Pitt, Caroline Powell and me!! (You did say ‘dream’.)

7: Do you reward your horses for a good performance and, if so, how?
Of course we do! Polos are a firm favourite.

8: What has been the highlight of your career to date and why?
Winning the 12.2hh championships two years in a row at Hickstead probably!!

9: What was your favourite subject at school and why?
Ooh that’s a hard one, I enjoyed French and English, but probably my favourite was Art, I wasn’t very good at it but it took very little effort!

10: If you weren’t a professional event rider what would you like to do?
I reckon I’d make a great racing driver – my son says I drive like Lewis Hamilton!

11: What would you most like to win that you haven’t already?
Well I’ve got plenty left to win but the ultimate would be X-factor!!

12: What is your favourite holiday destination?
I have been very lucky and gone to some fabulous places on holiday but I think my favourite place to go is to my mad friend’s house in the South of France.

13: Which horse would you most like to have had the opportunity to compete on and why?
My favourite event horse is Clea Phillips’ Lead the Way but I think the horse I would most like to ride is the outstanding showjumper VDL Bubalu who I spotted jumping last year in the Nations Cup at Hickstead. Sadly I gather it would put you back a few million to buy him!

14: When did you last fall off?
I try very hard not to fall off because it hurts and I’m a wimp but I guess it was about a year ago, cross country schooling, I wasn’t jumping a fence, just cantering along, the horse spooked and I was suddenly cantering along all alone!!

15: Do you have any pets at home?
Too many. We have 2 jack russells, “Come’ere” and “Come-on”! We also have Charlie Cat, and the latest additions to the family are Arthur and Stripy my two son’s guinea pigs!

16: What’s your favourite meal – and can you cook it?
Probably steak and chips, I think I do a reasonable job but a good restaurant would do much better.

17: Do you have any lucky charms or superstitions?
I was given a silver charm by a good friend with my sons’ finger prints on it which I wear as my lucky necklace, I couldn’t find it to take to Burghley – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

18: What’s your favourite one-day event?
Aston-Le-Walls 1,2,3,4,5,6, etc!

19: What are you most looking forward to at the Final at the Horse of the Year Show?
The diamantes that my groom spends hours sewing into my horses mane sparkling under the lights.

20: Who are you tipping to win the Final at the Horse of the Year Show?
Sam Griffiths or Alex Hua-Tian.




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