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Olivia riding Chicago, a huge horse of Ludo's who won the six bar at Olympia
Olivia and mum Paula, during a quick trip to Winterberg
|The outdoor arena|
|Olivia is a long way from steamy Queensland!|
In this, our first in the ‘Postcards from the Saddle’ series, we catch up with talented young Australian showjumper, Olivia Hamood. Olivia has recently taken up a position riding with Ludo Phillipaerts in Belgium and is learning all about life at a big European stable, riding some great horses and also experiencing her first Northern Hemisphere winter!
Jo Johnson caught up with Olivia to find out more…
Olivia, what a fantastic opportunity working with Ludo Phillipaerts! How did this arise?
When we were in Singapore for the first ever Youth Olympic Games in 2010, Ludo's son, Nicola Philippaerts, was there competing as part of the European Team. This is where I met Ludo and he offered me the opportunity to come and ride in Belgium. Originally I was going to take up the offer in the summer of 2011, but my parents thought I was too young at just 18 and now I am very glad that I did put it off for one more year, as I think I am much more able to deal with situations now.
What is the main difference between riding/training in Belgium and Australia?
I think the biggest difference between Australia and Belgium (or Europe in general) is 'discipline' and how strict they are here. In Australia I think we can get a little slack and laid back about our training at times. I also find their training exercises very different to ours, they seem to do a lot more gymnastic and cavaletti work. Also, the majority of horses get worked twice a day, may be ridden twice or ridden in the morning and then lunged in the afternoon.
Tell us about the horses?
I'm not sure exactly how many horses are in work but I know it is ALOT! I ride about 10 a day, some are young horses and some are also the older horses of Nicola and Olivier (Ludo’s sons). So far I have been fortunate enough to work Cabrio a grey Cassini I stallion that is jumping Grand Prix with Olivier and is short listed for the Olympics. I have also ridden Vadetta a chestnut mare that jumped in Calgary last year in the big classes and I have ridden once, Chicago, a horse of Ludo's that won the six bar at Olympia. I have found that it really doesn't matter what shape, colour or size they are here, or how they canter, they can all really jump!
How are you going with the language?
Language at Stal Philippaerts is terrible for me!! We have so many nationalities here, including Belgium, French, Swedish, Danish, Brazilian, Irish, Romanian, Norwegian and then there’s little old me the Aussie! The Belgium people speak Flemish which I believe is a mix between Dutch and French. I am told it is a very hard language to learn and I believe it too!
Have you had a chance to do any sightseeing?
The first week I was here mum and I met up with my brother and went to a snow resort in Winterberg, Germany. It was amazing I have never seen anything like it. Snow everywhere! My brother went snow skiing but I didn’t get to as I had to head back to Belgium that day, but to see real snow like that, in the mountains and all, was so beautiful!
What do you enjoy most about riding for Ludo and being in Belgium?
Learning new things everyday and experiencing independence. I have learnt so many new things when it comes to training. They are all a little to hard to explain in words though!
Biggest horsey highlight so far?
Bumping into Kevin Staut (highly successful French showjumper) at a show party last weekend!
What’s coming up on the European competition front for you?
In March we go to Tuscany to the Arezzo Equestrian Center. Arezzo goes for four weeks with Young Horse classes from Tuesday until Thursday and the big classes from Friday until Sunday every week. In the Final week there is a round of the Global Champions Tour. I have four horses I am competing with.
Where to after Arezzo?
After Arezzo I will come home to Australia and campaign my own horses for the rest of the year. What lies further ahead for me at this stage I have no idea? What I do hope is to bring my mare, Eternal Flame, back here next year and see what happens!
Thanks heaps for your time Olivia and all the best at Arezzo!
To read further details about Olivia’s Belgium adventures, the Arezzo show and view more photos, see the next issue of Go Jump, the fabulous online specialised showjumping magazine, due out on 1 March!