Edwina Tops-Alexander’s multi-tasking

What is in your stable now?


I’ve got some interesting horses. Fair Light is going to jump the Grand Prix today and tomorrow we have the World Cup. She was very good in Oslo and she was placed  in the Grand Prix, so she’s coming up and I think she’s very interesting. I just need to take it a little bit slowly with her. Then I have a very good mare that has been out a little while and she’s back again, she’s 11, her name is Tequila, and I think she’s going to be one of my best horses. I have one very good seven-year old, I have a good eight-year old, and both are relatively new horses. Ego is there mainly for the championships and the Global Tour,  we’ve had a great year, though we have  to learn to go faster. Guccio  is back now, he’s going to start in Verona and of course Chappie and my new 7 years Clinton which I’m very excited about. I’m very fortunate to have my horses and the support from Jan.


Does Jan find them for you? How do you work together?


We work together a lot, sometimes he goes to look at a horse, sometimes I go, or we go together. People send horses to us. But yes, we know what we both like and what suits me, though it doesn’t necessarily have to suit me.  He’s also away a lot, now in Morocco training the boys there for Qatar so he’s very busy with the Global Champions Tour.


The GCT is called the F1 of show jumping; did he know it would evolve like this?


Jan has incredible vision, he believes in what he thinks, and he never ever gives up. He always has a goal and I’ve never seen him not reach it. It might take longer than he expected but he always gets there. I know that this was the idea of the Global Tour, he’s had this idea many years before he started and it was just a matter of putting the pieces together.

We started in 2006 with just six shows and now it’s accumulated to 14 shows so it’s amazing. I think there’s a lot of really exiting plans to happen in the future so I think it’s going to develop the sport to a different level and that’s what we need. It’s been so long at the same place and the value of the horses are going up therefore the prize money needs to go up as well. And then you have more people investing in the sport and more people who want to keep horses for riders. And riders can actually now have a good income and make a living out of it which they couldn’t do before.


I remember Aachen where the Grand Prix used to be 150,000 euro and when the Global Champions Tour put their limit higher they had to go higher, too, and now they’re up to a million. So it’s really fantastic because it’s not only just about the Gobal Tour; it’s pushed the rest of the sport.

The only thing in my opinion that there is  a weakness is the indoors. There’s not enough money and you still have to jump as much so that’s another aspect of the sport that needs a lot of improvement. For sure there are some fantastic shows, like La Coruna which is 500.000 for the Grand Prix, and Geneva which is 350,000 so it’s already starting to come up a lot and that’s great. I think Jan has revolutionized everything.


There’s also a lot in a horse for people to connect with.


Yes, and it also an interesting sport because it’s a lot about combinations, putting the right horse with the right rider and having a great match; you know these special combinations like Shutterfly and Hickstead; these combinations that are unique.

And also the fact that as a rider you’re competing together with another athlete which is the horse. They also have a brain, you train them in your way and that’s another side to the sport that I think people don’t understand.


And then there’s the fact that men and women compete on the same level which has opened up a lot of eyes to the public. The reason why women are now more succesful than they were maybe 15 years ago is due to the change of the breeding, it’s allowed women to ride with much more finesse – the sport is generally more about finesse than strength.


“The horses also have a brain; you train them in your way and that’s another side to the sport that I think people don’t understand.”


The style of horses has changed a lot, people are breeding more blood into them, because everything is changing, the footing has changed, the jumps have changed, the equipment has changed, and everything is getting much more sophisticated. So we need different horses as well.


So how do you make your horses – how do you train them?


I think it’s important to have a good bond with a horse. They are extremely perceptive to people. They feel when youre not happy with them, or when you’re nervous, they’re so sensitive and so vulnerable.

It’s very important for the horse to trust you. I wish I could spend more time with my horses. I love them all and that’s important, that they feel that you appreciate them and respect them. They’re not all machines, Shutterflys or Itôts, they all have their ways and they like people. Some are better athletes, some are faster, some are slower, some have better reflexes, some don’t have quite as much push or power.

They’re a lot like people in that way and they all have their days. Sometimes the mares are not happy and the stallions don’t want to do anything. So it’s really about understanding the character of the horse. One of the most important things in a horse is the attitude.


Edwina on her top horse Ego van Orti at the WEG in Normandy.

In Normandy /free/FB rights?



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