From Dance Shoes to Horse Shoes…Foxtrot to extended trot....It’s Strictly Express Eventing!! - 12 November 2012

When the spotlight shines on the first rider in the first round of the Express Eventing Series 2012-13 as they ride down the centre line next Saturday at London’s ExCel Arena. They can be certain that one of the dressage judges will be looking for ultimate poise, posture and perfection.

Professional dancer and winner of the fourth series of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Karen Hardy, will be the artistic judge in the thrilling ‘one seat sees all’ version of the equestrian sport on Express Eventing Saturday at HorseWorld Live!

One of the differentiators between this compact, thrill a minute version of equestrian eventing, often likened to Twenty20 cricket, and the traditional format of the sport, is the freestyle dressage to music. This means that although the competing athletes have a list of compulsory and optional dressage movements, the latter attracting additional marks, they can ride them in their preferred sequence and to the music of their choice. This has resulted in everything from Robbie Williams to The Rocky Horror Show and Grease to Gaga!

‘’When we were looking to appoint a judge to assess the competition pairings for their choice of music, artistic impression and interpretation, we could really see the parallels between dance and dressage commented Jill Gratton-Fisher, of Tricorn Events. “Dressage is often referred to as Horse Ballet, so who better to judge these aspects than someone from the pinnacle of the world of dance”.

Karen Hardy looks to her pupils to address technical aspects of their dance programmes in order to enhance their performance and insists on a high proportion of training. These are just two of many similarities to the discipline needed for good dressage.

Speaking today, she said “When I was approached to be a judge for Express Eventing and the concept was explained. I could see immediately the parallels to so many aspects of how we prepare and deliver world class content for dance routines. I will be looking at the rider’s choice of music and how it suits the gait and conformation of the horse, the flair and imagination that has gone into putting the floorplan together and the overall picture horse and rider create”.

Karen has won numerous titles including the World Masters, British National Championship, Open Italian Championship, Yankie Classic and Osaka World Trophy and currently owns a successful luxury 5* dance studio in Chelsea.

For more information on the Express Eventing Series 2012-13 and to buy tickets for Express Eventing Saturday, visit or

A small number of tickets are still available for the Express Eventing Gala Dinner which is being held at Hilton, Docklands, Riverside, 265 Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 5HW. To reserve your tickets, visit


Read other articles