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Laura Tomlinson and Horses Inside Out

Laura Tomlinson played a pivotal part of putting British Dressage back on the podium and setting a new standard for what became a new era of dressage.



She is probably most well known for being part of the Gold medal winning dressage team at the London 2012 Olympic Games and then dancing her way with her striking chestnut partner, Alf (Mistral Højris) to tunes from the Lion King to take an individual bronze medal too.





As we count down the weeks to the Horses Inside Out Evening Extravaganza that takes place on 23 May 2024 at Hartpury, you will no doubt have seen the exciting news that Laura is riding in this lecture demonstration. In this article we tell you a bit more about Laura and her connection to Gillian and Horses Inside Out.


About Laura

Laura has been riding for as long as she can remember. Initially she loved jumping and had a lot of success eventing with her 13.2hh pony, Tom. It was in her teenage years that Laura’s passion turned to dressage – winning a team silver medal at the Pony European Championships when she was 14.



“It was love at first sight when I first saw a video of Alf (Mistral Højris) and although some people thought he wasn’t suitable for such a young girl, I knew he would be my horsey soul mate,” says Laura.


She wasn’t wrong, and as the saying goes – the rest is history. Laura and Alf made their first senior team in 2007 and in 2008 partnership competed at the Beijing Olympics. The following year they won team silver and individual bronze in the Grand Prix Special at the European Championships at Windsor.


This partnership continued to wow the crowds and win more medals – 2011 was particularly poignant, winning team gold at the European Championships and an individual bronze medal. Laura also became National Champion for the second time with her other horse, Andy. This fabulous year was completed when Laura and Alf won the World Cup qualifier at Olympia.


2012 turned out to be even better, as Laura explains.


“The London Olympics was a wonderful experience. We won a team gold and me and Alf won the individual bronze medal. I was very proud to come third in the prestigious BBC programme Olympic Superstars. To round off a very special time in my life I was awarded an MBE.”

After seven years at the top, in December 2013, Alf was retired from competition. Keeping a horse at top level for this long is no mean feat and takes a team of dedicated people to keep them feeling and performing at their best.


Team work makes the dream work

We’ve talked many times about the importance of having a team of experts to help keep horses fit and healthy. This is true whether you are an Olympic rider or someone who hacks out three times a week. The welfare of the horse is paramount and having the right team around you is crucial. Gillian is honoured and proud to say that she was part of the team that helped Alf.


It was a long time ago that Gillian first started treating Laura’s horses. Laura’s late father, Dr Bechtolsheimer ordered one of her DVDs, and really liked it and all his staff at the time also watched it. He believed it was important that everybody involved with horses, not just the riders, but the grooms and carers should gain a good understanding of equine biomechanics.

After seeing the DVD, he asked Gillian to visit their yard in the Cotswolds and give them some advice on different exercises they could do with their horses to help maintain and support good posture and general musculoskeletal health.


“I put together a programme of exercises that the girls could do with the horses to complement their training,” explains Gillian. “This was the beginning of a great relationship that continues today with monthly visits to Laura’s yard.”

It was this attention to detail, the teamwork and fabulous communication between everyone that really struck a chord with Gillian. They would have dedicated days where all the team members including Team GB would come together to discuss the management of each horse, their strengths and weaknesses and put together a tailored plan to help each horse to perform at its best.


“Working with the Bechtolsheimer's really cemented my belief and my passion that all riders should have a good understanding of equine anatomy and biomechanics. They are a great example of how they take the information about anatomy, biomechanics and apply it to everyday management and training,” says Gillian.

Welfare and longevity of the horse

Gillian still visits Laura’s yard on a regular basis to assess each of her horses. This involves seeing each horse walk and trot up in-hand, if possible, I’ll also watch them during a training session to give me a good insight into how they are moving and performing. This is followed up by a chat about how they are going and if there have been any issues since my last visit. I then carry out a full postural and joint range of movement test. The exercise programme for each horse is then reviewed and Gillian may prescribe a set of new exercises or tweak the ones they're already doing. It's this constant monitoring and working with the other professionals that care for the horses too that ensure all the horses are in tip top condition for the future.


“Laura, in my opinion, is such a forward thinking and open rider,” says Gillian. “She really takes on board the importance of making sure the horses have everything they need and are as comfortable as possible and tries to address any issues before they become a problem.”

Laura is also a great believer in cross training her horses. All of her horses have variety including pole work, in-hand work as well as schooling, hacking and regular turnout. It’s this attention to detail that ensure longevity in the horse.


Laura has several exciting horses in her current team including the homebred Full Moon II (Moony). Moony went to the World Young Horse Breeding Championships in 2023 as a 7-year-old and is currently competing at Small Tour level. You can find out more about Laura’s current team of horses here https://www.lauratomlinson.co.uk/horses/


A supporter of Horses Inside Out

If you have a copy of Gillian’s book, Anatomy in Action, you will know that Laura played a big part in it. She features in the pictures and video riding her horse Betty, showcasing some of the more advanced dressage moves as well as the basic gaits - take a look at the video below. We are delighted that once again Laura is supporting Horses Inside Out and has agreed to ride at our evening extravaganza at Hartpury Arena on 23 May 2024.




Said Laura “I am excited to be riding at the Horses Inside Out lecture demonstration at Hartpury in May. As riders and trainers, it's so important that we learn as much as we can about the anatomy and biomechanics of the horse. With this knowledge we can improve the way we train and care for our horses and ensure that they are as happy and comfortable as possible.”


This evening lecture demo is going to be fun and interactive. It will feature Gillian’s signature live painted horses and Laura will be riding in a skeleton bodysuit, which will give you a fantastic opportunity to study the interaction, balance and harmony between horse and rider.


This thought provoking insight into the world of equine anatomy and biomechanics will help you understand how it can help to improve the horse's posture, movement, comfort, performance and longevity. During the evening you will discover how different exercises and techniques affect the horse's way of going and performance. 



“This is such a fantastic opportunity for people to come and see Laura riding,” says Gillian. “I know she's an inspiration in the dressage world but to come to a lecture demonstration and watch not just any horse and rider but a top level, advanced Olympian demonstrating different dressage moves and principles of training is one not to be missed.”

 

Tickets to the Evening Extravaganza at Hartpury Arena are available to buy in advance now! If you want to improve your riding, training and management you don’t want to miss this lecture demonstration – plus, of course you get to watch Laura too.

 



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