Caught in Motion

horse Sculpture
Sculptor Charles Elliott has released his first Horse in Motion sculpture, created in conjunction with his show jumper wife, Abbe.
stag sculpture
Elliott’s stag sculpture is made from up-cycled horses shoes.

Caught at the moment of extension, the life sized horse sculpture is a study of motion, stopped in a moment of time.

Sculptor Charles Elliott (Elliott of London) is known for his use of upcycled horse shoes and traditional blacksmithing techniques — he has a series of Stag and Bull sculptures using traditional blacksmithing and modern metal manipulating techniques.

But this is the first in a planned series of equestrian sculptures that he is working on with his wife, international show jumper Abbe Elliot.

It’s not the first time Elliott’s sculpture has reflected his wife’s interests. With his brother, James, a farrier, he produced a hand forged horse head light. The interest

Elliott also makes horse head lights. Wouldn’t it be fun to have these in your house?

in this sculptural hand-forged ironwork prompted Elliott to expand his business and create a range of iron and metalwork.

He invested in a range of machines, some more than 120 years old, and now produces a range of sculptures taking advantage of both traditional and modern metal working techniques.

The new horse sculpture has tapped into Charles’ wife, Abbe’s, expertise.

Charles says “I would speak to Abbe 2-3 times a day whilst working on my sculptures, to ask her about details of muscle layouts and conformation, whilst looking through piles of close ups of horses in motion. She is very critical of our work and a perfectionist when it comes to the horses, metal or real life!”

You can tell — the sculpture is very much alive.


Horses don’t care about potential

Kroni turned out to be a very talented horse, once I found him the “right” job.

Sometimes you’re lucky and you buy a horse that ends up with more talent than you expected. More talent than you, perhaps, need for the type of riding you prefer. And, more times than not, I hear those lucky people lament the fact that they are “holding back” the horse, who could achieve greater things with a better rider.

I read this on a friend’s FB page last week as she talked about her horse:

Honestly, she has so much ability! Sometimes I think she is wasted on me. Not that I don’t love her and do things with her, but she is capable of so much more.

She’s right that she has a lovely, athletic horse who has a lot of ability. But she is certainly not wasting that talent. Nope, this is a sensitive horse with, shall we call, an amount of “exuberance” that many people would not be able to ride. My friend rides this horse beautifully and they have a fantastic partnership. It sure looks like a happy horse to me.

I do understand where she’s coming from because years ago, I said the same thing about my Trakehner, Kronefurst, to my trainer. Kroni was a beautiful and athletic horse with extravagant gaits and a big jump. He also had some quirks, including a tendency to rear and a very defined opinion about how he liked to be ridden. After I said how much more Kroni could have done with a better rider, my trainer laughed and said he was damned lucky to have found me because his quirks might have led to a bad ending.

Patriot's day
For several years I rode him in a Patriot’s Day Re-enactment, rousing the Lincoln Minutemen. I could tell that he wasn’t crazy about riding down into the crowds, but he did it because I asked him.

Let’s face it. Horses don’t understand potential. They don’t hunker down at night and bemoan the fact that they will never gallop around Rolex.

I do believe they know when they’ve done a good job, and I certainly think that many horses like to have a job that they understand and can excel at. But they don’t care about ribbons and they never berate themselves for not achieving the human definition of success.  They want to please their human and that may well be enough. Well, that and lots of turnout and grass.

I bought Kroni with the intention of eventing him, but I only took him to a couple of competitions. He was always fussy with his mouth — partially it was because he had a thick tongue and a low palate; partially it was because he felt trapped when asked for any collection. After struggling with the dressage phase for several years, it became clear to me that this was never going to be his strong suit.

Kronefurst, my Trakehner, found his true purpose in life foxhunting. Here is is in his bitless bridle, waiting patiently for the first cast.

Ultimately, he found his calling as a hunt horse. From the very first time I hunted him he let me know that this was what he’d been waiting to do. Out hunting, he didn’t need to have a bit — he was completely controllable with a bitless bridle. He was bold but never out of control. He jumped anything that was in front of him. And he stood at the checks on the buckle. We had a deal: I would never ask him to do something that he couldn’t do and he would take care of me.

Sure, if he’d had a different rider, he might have won more ribbons but I don’t think he would have had more fun.

If you’re lucky enough to have one of those horses with a little bit more scope than you actually need, just remember that your horse doesn’t care about potential. He only wants to be well cared for and loved, and to please you. So enjoy that extra bit of ability, give him a pat and know that he is only performing for you.

Burghley Horse Trials Underway – XC on Saturday!

Burghley xc preview
Watch the cross country preview on the Burghley.TV site. You can watch the action live or on demand.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are underway and if you didn’t get enough equestrian coverage during the Olympics, this should be a great treat. Burghley always does a great job of making the coverage accessible — and free.

Dressage standingsAfter dressage, New Zealand and Australia dominated the standings, with Bettina Hoy (2nd) and Oliver Towend (5th) breaking the trend.

Andrew Nicholson is back in fine form after recovering from a broken neck last year.

Cross country starts at 11:15am GB time (6:15am US eastern) and the last horse is due on course at 3:45 pm (10:45am US eastern) but you will able to watch on demand on It being the UK, it is supposed to rain tomorrow so fingers crossed that the footing stays good.


Nick Skelton and Big Star win Individual Gold in Show Jumping

After seven Olympics and one team gold medal, Nick Skelton has won the individual gold in show jumping riding “the best horse that I’ve ever had or likely ever will,” Big Star. Skelton is the first British rider to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics and, at 58, is the oldest equestrian to win the gold.

The crowd favorite won a six way jump off.  Peder Fredericson (Sweden) won the  and Eric Lamaze (Canada) the bronze.

Big star
Nick Skelton on Big Star won the individual gold at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Skelton’s win today on Big Star is quite a comeback story — for both horse and rider. Skelton retired in 2000 after a fall that broke two his neck in two places and damaged a ligament. Doctors told him that another fall from a horse could be fatal. His retirement lasted a year, then he was back in the saddle. He started competing again two years after the accident.

He had a hip replacement in 2011, but that didn’t stop him either. In 2012, he and Big Star were part of the gold medal winning team at the London Olympics but only finished fifth in the individual standings.

Big Star, a 13-year old Dutch warmblood stallion has been sidelined with injuries since 2013 when he won his last Grand Prix event. Even Skelton described him as “rusty” when they came into the Olympics. For the past two years, Skelton has nursed the stallion back to health. So to ask the stallion to jump a course of this height and at such speed, was an act of faith.

“I always knew in the back of my mind, if we could get him right, he could do this.

“He’s an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him. He wants to do it. He has all the right attributes. He’s the best horse that I’ve ever had.

“I’m so pleased for him. He has worked so hard. This is for him.”

Skelton, who is in chronic pain from his injuries, says Big Star is the only horse he still rides. He will retire when the stallion does, he says.

Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro Take The Lead In Rio

Charlotte Dujardin has taken the lead in the dressage in Rio by turning in a commanding 85.07% on Valegro. Not a surprise, really as they are the reigning world champion, but they really lived up to their billing. If I could ride a horse that well — and ride a horse that talented — I could forego jumping forever!

Thanks to someone posting video from a BBC channel, I was actually able to watch the dressage performances. They are posted on Facebook so I’m hoping the embedding works for all of you.


Steffan Peters is currently the highest placing American rider, competing on Legolas.

Here’s a nice interview with Charlotte (and Valegro).

Michael Jung wins Second Olympic Gold on Sam

From Left to right Silver Nicolas Astier FRA, Gold Michael Jung GER and  Philip Dutton USA Bronze. Pic Arnd Bronkhorst
From Left to right Silver Nicolas Astier FRA, Gold Michael Jung GER and Philip Dutton USA Bronze.
Pic Arnd Bronkhorst
Michael Jung, of Germany, riding Sam Fbw, competes in the equestrian eventing team show jumping phase at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Michael Jung, of Germany, riding Sam Fbw, (AP Photo/John Locher)

Michael Jung racked up another win (and his second consecutive individual Olympic gold medal) at the Rio Olympics. I was lucky enough to watch the live streaming of the show jumping and he rode a beautiful round. Jung also was part of the silver-winning German team. Jung and Sam were the only team to finish on their dressage score (40.9). Jung is only the third eventer to win back-to-back individual gold in Olympic competition.

Nicolas Astier, of France was second individually and was part of the winning French team. It was the first time that France has (France won the team Gold). he last time the French won Olympic gold was in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

And Phillip Dutton won the bronze.

If you haven’t been able to watch the live stream, here are the last three horses to go. Click on the photo to access the video.