‘Five minutes with Hannah Biggs…
International dressage rider Hannah Biggs is one of Britain’s leading lady dressage riders. She is a Grand Prix competitor, and combines traditional and classic values with modern training ideals. Notably at the recent Saumur CDI3*, held at the Cadre Noir in France in September, Hannah sealed her first international dressage to music victory, riding Weltzin in the Grand Prix Kür.
Hannah, who was five when she first sat on a pony, says her ethos when riding is to enjoy every competition. “Dressage is about the journey, not the idea and the dream,” she says. “Enjoy your horse at every stage, and work on the bond with him. That is what dressage is all about; dancing with your best friend inside the white arena boards.” She explains that her parents rode for fun during the summers, when the family would visit Hannah’s grandmother in Devon. “I started at the local riding centre, and used to gallop across Dartmoor with my Dad. I then carried on lessons back in Hong Kong, where I grew up,” says Hannah, who is based on the Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset borders.
If she could wave a magic wand and change one thing about her sport, Hannah says she’d change the Government and VOSA driving regulations. “They cause prohibitive costs and legislations before riders have even got to a competition,” she states. “The Government’s rules on business rates on indoor schools are also crippling! Other than that, I would like to judges to be seen in a different light. It is still a little ‘riders V judges’. I would like to see more accountability for the judges, but also a better attitude towards them from the riders, and a greater understanding of human error. A solution to that would be great too!”
When asked what the most common negative aspect is, in the sport of dressage, Hannah says that some riders are too quick to blame the horse, or any other external circumstance, at an event. “Rather, we should all look to ourselves,” she says wisely. When asked what else she dislikes about her industry, Hannah says uneducated equine breeding is exasperating “Breeding from a mare who is unable to work due to conformational injury, or a un-rideable temperament, will not provide you will a sound, pleasant horse in the future!” she explains.
Hannah is, however, a notably positive person, and says riding horses is a passion and a lifestyle than a job. “There are great highs followed by real lows, combined with unconditional love, and the fact that horses are great levellers,” she states. “I believe that working with horses means a full life, pushing yourself to the limits, achieving goals and dreams, and constantly improving yourself as a person. Plus, there’s no rat race and rush hour traffic jams, at least for me!”
When asked which horse she would love to ride, Valegro is obviously Hannah’s equine hero. “To feel such power, suppleness and harmony with a horse like that, which has such an obvious desire to do his very best with his rider, would be amazing.”
Finally, Hannah shares her personal motto: ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me’. “Nothing is handed to you on a plate; even if you are granted natural talent, you still have to work hard for your dreams to come true. I am the ruler of my own destiny, and will handle whatever is thrown at me along the way!” she wisely concludes.
I couldn’t live without..
“Hay is undoubtedly the most ideal equine forage, its only flaw being dust spores. Remove the spores, and you have the perfect forage. I use my HAYGAIN HG-GO steamer at shows; it fits in the lorry, and accommodates half a bale, or alternatively hay nets or single hay slices,” Hannah says.