How a love of horses can open up multiple windows of opportunity

February 2017

The start of 2017 has definitely been a busy time. It has been exciting to be involved with a mix of training, coaching and reporting. It’s been all go!

At the end of January I made my way to Leipzig for the final FEI World Cup Vaulting Qualifier, held alongside FEI World Cup Show Jumping and Driving. I was there to write the press release for vaulting and also get some social content for the FEI Website and social networking sites.

The venue in Leipzig is stunning and a great setting for the World Cup. Whilst I was very busy getting content for the website, I also had a chance to meet new people in the press room. It is so nice to speak to different journalists and photographers who cover a range of equestrian disciplines and who are so passionate about their jobs.

 

Hot competition

It was a dramatic first day of competition in the vaulting arena. Out of 14 starts there were 8 falls. The pressure was intense as the vaulters battled it out for the last chance to qualify for the final – a great advertisement for the sport. 

I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to commentate for FEI TV on the final day of competition although I was a bit nervous at the thought of live commentating to begin with; it was something I had never done before. I have always had plenty of opinions sitting watching from the stands and I love the sport but the thought of commentating to a worldwide equestrian audience made my stomach flip. Luckily the main commentator was Rupert Bell who I had filmed a lot of the HOYS vlogs with at the show last year. He kept me right and it was great to already have that relationship working together. I was so thankful that my first experience co-commentating was with him and the whole FEI TV team were so welcoming.

 

A lifetime of unforgettable moments

As a result of commentating in Leipzig, I have been asked to commentate for the World Cup Final in Dortmund.  I am often amazed by the opportunities that vaulting has provided for me and it is an honour to still be involved in this incredible sport, in ways I could never even have dreamed. A love of horses has provided me a lifetime full of unforgettable moments. Leipzig was also a great opportunity to cover some FEI World Cup driving and showjumping for the FEI’s Instagram story. Boyd Excell dominated in the driving and it was great to witness his incredible skills.

 

 

The days in Leipzig were extremely long as the vaulting was in the morning and I had to stay for the driving which finished late at night. However, I loved every second of it. I love the buzz around the arena and the way that every country brings an exciting different angle to their horse shows.

 

From commentating to coaching

After Leipzig, I was lucky enough to spend some time coaching near Helsinki. On the day of arrival I met multi medallist Gero Meyer from Germany and Finnish senior vaulter Emma Kalliomaa and we had the opportunity to wander around and see the city. It was very beautiful but extremely cold. Helsinki sits on the coast and the harbour was frozen so it was a bizarre experience getting to stand on the water. 

 

I have huge respect for the Finnish Vaulters, especially in their commitment to training throughout the winter. At home as soon as temperatures near zero it can become quite difficult to motivate and often we complain about the cold. In Finland in the winter temperatures can be near -20°C and with some of the vaulters having outdoor arenas so training becomes near on impossible. 

It is so exciting to see how fast the sport is developing and also to witness the great team spirit at the national training in Helsinki. Despite a lot of the vaulters being in direct competition, they are constantly pushing and supporting each other which made for a great atmosphere. Everyone was so welcoming and while the weekend was extremely busy I had a brilliant time. Great horses, great vaulters and I am really excited to see what the future holds.

 

Hopes, dreams and aspirations

I recently smashed open a Terramundi pot that had been in my room for over 10 years. Not only did the pot hold a small fortune but it also contained a piece of card that I had written my hopes and dreams on. It was such an unexpected find. I had written back at the start of 2006 how I hoped to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen 2006 and Kentucky in 2010. I also wrote that I hoped in the future to compete individual as well as team. It was such a nice surprise to find that I had fulfilled my childhood dreams. It hadn’t even occurred to me back at that point that I might go on to compete at WEG in 2014 and come back with a medal. It made me realise the importance of writing my goals and aspirations down, not only as something to aim for, but also for something to look back on to see how they have developed or changed. 

 

I have been reflecting quite a lot recently as I feel incredibly lucky to have so many unforgettable experiences, whether that is through my involvement with HOYS, the FEI or coaching. Everything is as a result of the amazing support I have had and the hard work put in to help me to make my childhood dreams come true.

 

Hannah Eccles

HOYS Ambassador