Sadly no Switzerland, but loved London instead! | An Eventful Life

Sadly no Switzerland, but loved London instead!

    Walking the course with Pippa and Geir ‘Jimmy’ Gulliksen        Photo courtesy Peter Nixon


December for the Windrush Equestrian Foundation riders is always an exciting month as it (usually) sees the riders jet off to snowy Switzerland for the CHI Geneva, courtesy of Rolex and A Young Riders Academy.

However, the arrival of Omicron put the brakes on the trip once again.  With plans resembling the hokey cokey (we were in, we were out, thankfully we didn’t shake it all about) eventually it was decided that the safest and most responsible thing to do would be to not travel our riders to Switzerland.  So, a change of plan – London!

Emma Thomas sets the scene.

“On Saturday the 18th of December we were lucky enough to attend the London International Horse Show during its first year at the London Excel Centre. We arrived a few hours before our interview to have a look around. As much as I hold nostalgia for Olympia as the venue of my childhood, the Excel is very impressive. The sheer size of the space creates room to house everything more than comfortably.

The shopping village was fantastic, meaning that I could get some important Christmas shopping out of the way! After having our fill of the trade stands, we made our way over to the Live Zone for our interview. There we met Pippa (Funnell), and we were briefed by Wiggy Bamforth and the interviewer Rupert Bell, before heading on stage.

Being briefed allowed us to begin putting Alice Fox-Pitt’s advice into use. She taught us to always be prepared for the questions we might be asked. Once we were onstage the rest of her tips came to fruition. She advised us to always be friendly and polite, which was made very easy thanks to Rupert. Overall, the interview went very well, but next time I hope to be less nervous!”

Kristina Hall-Jackson used the Live Zone session to put into practice what they learnt in November with broadcaster Alice Fox-Pitt.

“With Pippa being there with us I felt more at ease as she led the way. It wasn’t as daunting as I imagined, and I actually enjoyed it. I remember Alice Fox-Pitt saying to be yourself and control your own interview. I practiced breathing from our breathing workshop with Matt Collings as well, to keep myself calm and answering the questions with a clear mind.

Pippa also managed to sort us some backstage passes, so we mixed with the best of the best in the showjumping world. It was quite surreal sitting on a table chatting to Pippa with Marcus Ehnning, John Whitaker, Geir Gulliksen and Ben Maher (to name a few) sitting just next to us.

As an event rider we don’t get to go to such high-profile indoor shows, so it was a huge privilege to be able to mix with these riders.”


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For Harry Mutch the trip presented a whole host of new experiences, for one it was his first time at a big indoor show such as this, then adding extreme carriage driving and course walking into the mix, it was a trip to remember.

“We got to watch the World Cup driving final which was a new experience having never watched that before, it wasn’t what I was expecting but was really exciting to watch! 

Pippa had arranged for us to walk the Christmas Cracker course with Geir ‘Jimmy’ Gulliksen which was an amazing experience, he showed us the lines you’d be taking around a huge track (1.55m!)  and you don’t appreciate the size and technicality of riding these tracks until you get to walk them.

Having been told how to ride it Jimmy then stayed with us to watch the class and talk us through each round as they jumped. with what they were doing right or wrong.”

It is safe to say that the riders took a lot out of their trip to London and now look ahead to the 2022 season!


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