Harry Meade talks to Eventing Worldwide

Harry Meade speaks to Eventing Worldwide about being back on the World Class Programme Podium Potential Squad and the 2019 eventing season ahead.

Dodson & Horrell Brand Ambassador Harry Meade speaks to Eventing Worldwide about being back on the World Class Programme Podium Potential Squad and the 2019 eventing season ahead.

Harry was one of five eventing athletes selected by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) for the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme Podium Potential squad for 2019-2021.

What does it mean to be included in the World Class Programme Podium Potential Squad?
“It’s great to be back on the World Class Programme. I previously spent seven years on it but came off when my top horse at the time, Wild Lone, sadly died.  It’s taken a couple of seasons to build up a team of horses to championship level again, so it’s great for the horses and for the owners. The support makes a big difference and since we’re used to working in an individual training environment it’s good fun to be in a team atmosphere and very healthy to feed off each other.”

Exactly what does being part of the squad it entail?
“We have various training sessions throughout the year, some over several days, where we work individually with the coaching staff.  Most of the training is prior to the start of the season and is a useful baseline as to where you are with your preparation.  We undergo positional analysis, work on test riding with outside judges and both riders and horses are assessed by the Equine and Human Sports Science and Medicine teams in order to identify areas for improvement.”

Does this programme give you support in other areas beyond riding?
“A large part of the programme involves working off the horse. I found the recent physical testing day really useful – they analysed the strength and mobility of isolated muscle groups and designed a bespoke physical training programme for each of us.  We also see a nutritionist, doctor, sports psychologist, physio, and have access to experts in lots of other areas whether it be business support, transport regulations, media training or even conflict management!  Ours is an unusual sport as it involves running a sustainable business as well as producing and competing horses and given that any area of weakness will prevent you fulfilling your potential the programme is all-encompassing. The more you buy-in to the programme, the more you get out of it.”

What are your current plans for the 2019 season?
“Away Cruising will head to Badminton in the Spring.  He finished sixth at Burghley last year and has felt great since coming in from his holiday and starting his preparations.  He’s 12 this year with four successful 5* events under his belt, so his programme in the run up to Badminton will probably only involve running across country at one or two events as he’s now fairly experienced.  The main aim is to blow away any cobwebs and give him a good experience so he arrives at Badminton full of confidence. Once Badminton is out the way we’ll think about plans for the second half of the season. Tenareze will most likely aim for Bramham, taking in a few 4*’s on the way, whilst Cavalier Crystal, Monbeg Medlar and Red Kite will all aim for Tattersalls.  ”

What are you most looking forward to about the season starting?
“I’ve been trying to build the best team of horses I can, and most of my current string have been with me since they were four-year-olds. It takes time to produce horses but they are now coming into their prime – the oldest in our yard are twelve-year-old, so they all have their best days ahead of them. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in each of their journeys and seeing what this season holds.”

Are there any horses you are particularly excited about?
“Cavalier Crystal is a nine year old, she’s taken quite a while to settle into her work but each season has looked increasingly exciting. She missed the second half of last season with a splint when the going became firm, and as a result came back into work in the Autumn and has trained on through the off season and felt great.”

Where is your favourite event and why?
“I live for the four stars – from selecting the young horses to their entire education, it’s all about trying to peak at that level. When Badminton or Burghley comes around it’s such a big moment for the horses and their owners, and you know a little piece of history is going to be written over the course of the week. We’re very lucky in the sport to have such iconic events that transcend beyond the equestrian sphere. At each one I try to have moments where I stand back and enjoy the experience, I know it’s the thing that I’ll miss the most when I’m old and retired!”

Interview courtesy of Dodson & Horrell.

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