As part of our #TEAMHUFF launch I spent 5 mins with Abi to find out more about her life, her lifestyle and her passions:
Tell us about the horses that got you where you are today…
Wow! So many! I think back to some of my horses and I think, ‘what did they put up with?!’ Our horses are the real trainers. They teach us so much and put up with so much. For me I have 4 in mind and I feel I have to mention all four or they would be upset!
Amo - Owned by Pammy Hutton, she was the first mare I rode above novice level and we went all the way to Inter 2 together (she already knew all it all!). She taught me how to sit loose and relaxed. She was a wide mare who despised it if you rode with a gripping leg. If you had it too close she would just go slower and slower! Amo is a school mistress at Talland now.
Magnum – Also owned by Pammy Hutton and Teresa Day, was my first International horse. He taught me how to find my feet in the ring at PSG and above. How to use every square metre of space in there and how to really ride a test. Not just sit steering and hoping! I also got to do my first Grand Prix tests on him.
Dino is a current ride of mine. He was trained by my husband, (and is owned by him) he has taught me refinement. How to ride with quick legs and a slow rein. Also, how to manage an extremely neurotic soul! He gives an amazing feeling and is such a nice horse to ride but gets hot in certain situations. He is still teaching me as we are now starting to do Inter 2 together. I manage his ‘weirdness’ by constant assessment, if I’m working on something that makes him tense, I might do it with a really ‘ploddy’ way of going so he sees it as not a big deal. And if something isn’t going well, I always stop. It never pays with him to try and push through! There’s always tomorrow.
Arty is a little bit special. I am so lucky to ride him. He is the first real quality horse I have produced. I own him together with my husband Charlie. Interestingly, a lot about his way of going is very similar to Dino, without Dino’s neurosis. I feel very lucky to have Dino who is older and teaches me how to ride Arty better. Arty has an amazing canter. Not only has he taught me how to ride quality (with great power comes great responsibility), but he has done immeasurable good for my bravery! As a 4 year old he was so sharp and there were nights where I would lose sleep because I was genuinely afraid to ride him the next day! But I learned that if you just persevere and ride a young horse forward and positively but with confidence (even if you have to fake it!) then you will get there! He's now 6 and a complete a lamb now!
This is super cheesy but sometimes I wish I could say sorry to them because they must have some days thought ‘what is she doing?’, but as you learn and understand more, you realise how kind horses are to you and how much they really want to please you! All of them!
What do you do to keep fit?
Yoga yoga yoga! It makes me laugh how people don’t actually understand how physical yoga can be. People will say, 'you must do such and such to keep strong, yoga only makes you flexible’. Those people have never done any warrior or plank flows! I love to run too, I find it’s so good to clear my head so I do some running, but not that much.
How do you relax at the end of the day?
I don’t understand the question! Just kidding, I’d love to tell you I practice great mindfulness or that I paint but I would be lying! Chocolate, TV and a glass of wine is my usual ‘go-to’ relaxation method. Although we just finished Sober October so there’s been no wine lately! I do my nails at least 3/4 times a week and I find that very therapeutic, and essential for an equestrian keep the dirt hidden!
What’s your biggest luxury in life?
Charlotte Tilbury face masks! And my car-it’s a white Audi Q3. Insane to have a white car I know, but I wash it A LOT!
When the going gets tough, what keeps you motivated?
Arty! Haha, but seriously, he is that one horse that makes me smile every single day, even if it’s his day off! He’s such a sweet kind person, but when he is ridden every single day he is like ‘Yes! Let’s do this!’. He is always the same happy and willing little man. To be honest it’s not just him, I can guarantee that when it’s all going wrong at least one of my horses will remind me why I do what I do.
What do you think is the biggest challenge you face as a professional rider?
Hmmm that’s an excellent question! Probably the juggling. We have to work so hard to make enough money to fund the riding and competing. There’s always so much buzzing around your head, like teaching X number of lessons, managing the owners, running the yard, doing bits for sponsors, competition entries, clinics, social media is a big part of it now too. So, it’s hard, but essential to make sure when you take up those reins, all that goes away and you concentrate on the riding, because that’s why we do it! I do a lot of correspondence when I’m warming my horses up, (they always get about 10 mins on a long rein), but when they’re ready to pick up work, the phone goes down and I don’t want to be disturbed!