In the first of a new series, we put the spotlight on grassroots riders. We spoke to Kate Slone who has fulfilled a dream of qualifying for the Supplements Cup – the grassroots championships for BE90 and BE100 at Badminton.
Tell me a bit about yourself and SOS Sealpoint?
SOS Sealpoint is known as Moose at home and she turned eight this year. I got her as a four-year-old from her breeder, Georgia Stokes who runs SOS Competition Horses.
She has such a lovely nature and is so kind to deal with. She can be opinionated and knows how she likes things. She had been under saddle two months when I got her and everything she’s done has been with me.
I work full time as a small animal vet. I took a seven-year break from riding when I finished university and was starting my career. In 2015 I decided I wanted to get another horse and we went to Georgia’s to look at another horse. That one wasn’t suitable but I knew Moosey was the one when I rode her. I had wanted something older but I knew she was the one. When I was looking for a horse mum asked me what I wanted, I said I wanted a horse I could aim at Badminton Grassroots. This has been my ultimate dream since I got Moosey
SOS Sealpoint is not just an eventer, you’ve done very well at Dressage too?
We have enjoyed success at BD as well as eventing. Her most notable achievements are:
10th Petplan Area Festival Novice Bronze Championships 2017
Regional Novice Silver Music Champion 2018 and 2019
9th place at the BD Winter Championships Novice Silver Music 2019
Riding at the British Dressage championships was a huge bucket list moment for me – Badminton is also on that list and we are now one step closer to achieving that too. Doing these things with Moosey who I’ve produced myself is so special
Which is your weakest phase in eventing and how have you worked on this?
Show Jumping is my weakest phase. I don’t get nervous before dressage – I just aim to do my best. But I just wasn’t able to bring this philosophy to the SJ arena. Moosey is very sensitive to my tension and body movements and I get so tense before the show jumping because I always want to do well. I’ve worked hard on developing a system in my head to try and take some control when I’m in the show jumping arena rather than just hoping to survive the round. I have been going to pure show jumping to practice as well. It’s still a work in progress but we went clear at our regional which was the best feeling
Who do you train with and how have they helped you?
I train with my sister Alice (Oppenheimer), and my mum Sarah also helps most days when I’m riding. Alice and Mum have been helping me from day one and their knowledge of training has got us to this point. I’ve also had lessons with Erik Theilgard who has helped us towards developing better self-carriage. For show jumping I have trained with Dannie Morgan and Harry Charles. Over time we have worked on getting more control of the canter and developing to quality and rhythm.
Who do you turn to for advice when competing?
I usually turn to my mum. She’s got a wealth of experience from training point-to-pointers, to HOYS show hunters and dressage horses.
Which rider do you look up to and why?
Michael Jung. It seems like there is nothing the man can’t do. His horses are all so well trained and he rides so beautifully at the top level of more than one equestrian discipline
How did it feel when you realised you had qualified for the grassroots championship at Badminton?
It didn’t feel real, it’s been a dream for so long that it took a few days to really sink in.
What are your eventing plans for the rest of the season? And will they change now you have qualified for the championships?
We plan to run at a few more 90s this year and then spend the winter show jumping with the aim of BE100 next season. We will run at different venues than originally planned now we don’t have to travel for regional finals.
Which is your favourite event & why?
Tweseldown. It’s my local event and they always put so much effort into developing the courses so you’re not riding around the same course each time you go.