Riding a large horse with a long stride like Laura Tomlinson’s Grand Prix mare, Unique, can be a difficult task in the CDI3* ring, but not for Tomlinson. The British dressage Olympian and successful trainer handled her tests with ease and grace, impressing the judges and earning the Neue Schule Best Hands Award for her soft and quiet connection with her horse.
Tomlinson and Unique, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare, competed in the FEI Grand Prix and Freestyle at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. Their Freestyle performance placed high despite tough competition. While Tomlinson trains and competes several other horses as well, Unique is one of her most talented yet challenging rides.
“She’s such a big mover that every little correction really has a huge impact, so you’ve got to be very, very careful yet come through enough to keep it together. It’s a delicate balancing act,” explained Tomlinson.
Despite the mare’s size, Tomlinson understands the importance of light contact and accurate hand aids. “She still gets nervous and tense in the arena, so it’s all about building up confidence and trust. The softer my hands, the more likely she is to trust me,” said Tomlinson. It was this educated and experienced outlook that drew Neue Schule’s attention to Tomlinson.
As the Official Bit of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), Neue Schule has a philosophy of always putting the horse’s needs and comfort first. The company develops its products with three fundamental principles that allow for maximum well-being of the horse: warmth, correctness based on anatomy, and bioactivity. These three components result in a product that provides horses with the comfort and support needed to perform to the best of their ability.
These three core principles are also what help Metlar Premium Performance Saddlery, the North American distributor of Neue Schule Bits, to recognize and reward excellent hand aids and riding connection in the competition world. The quiet effectiveness of Tomlinson’s performance during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival exemplified precisely what Neue Schule stands for.
Growing up in the breeding and training world, Tomlinson was able to begin riding and competing at a very young age. Throughout her career she’s had success in some of the world’s top dressage competitions, including the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the 2011 European Championships, the 2011 World Cup Qualifier at Olympia— and, in 2012, Tomlinson helped Great Britain to Team Gold and earned the Individual Bronze medal at the London Olympics.
Moving forward, Tomlinson’s goal with Unique is to continue riding in the Grand Prix to build her confidence before heading back to Europe for the rest of the competition season. “Unique is really starting to come together more. As a seven-year-old she was like riding the titanic, but now I think I can get her to feel more like a speedboat so we really have it in the ring. We’re in progress with that now,” said Tomlinson. Tomlinson is also currently working hard with some of her other horses, aiming for Rio and beyond.
The Neue Schule Best Hands Award given to Tomlinson included a beautiful ribbon and Kathy Connelly Performance Products, also distributed by Metlar.
Proud to have had the opportunity to recognize such an established and respectable horsewoman, Neue Schule looks forward to seeing Tomlinson and Unique continue to progress.
To learn more about Neue Schule Bits and distributer Metlar Premium Performance Saddlery, visit www.BitByBitUSA.com or call 631-252-5574.
Photos: Dressage Olympian Laura Tomlinson, riding Unique, wins the Neue Schule Best Hands Award at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (Photo courtesy of JRPR— no photo credit necessary)