Equestrian legend, Sir Mark Todd, visits North East Scotland

Training with the best – riders enjoyed training and demonstrations from the great Sir Mark Todd

One of the most celebrated equestrians of our time visited Aberdeen, in North East Scotland recently for two days of training clinics and evening demonstrations at Fountain Equestrian Centre.

Mark Todd’s numerous achievements are quite remarkable including 7 Olympic Games, including London 2012 and Rio 2016, winning two Olympic gold medals, 4 Badminton titles, 5 wins at Burghley and numerous other honours. The weekend, organized by David Lawson Equestrian Events was a rare opportunity for budding equestrians in the North East to learn from Sir Mark’s many years of experience competing at the highest level.

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The demonstration evenings included riders from Pony Club to CCI*** being coached over a course of technical jumps in front of an audience of 150 each night. Country Ways, an equestrian store in Aberdeen, and Ardene House Equine Vets were sponsoring these evening sessions and Rosemary Michie, owner of Country Ways, said “we were delighted that Sir Mark came so far North. There was a huge amount of interest in these two events and everyone took something home, whether it was working on counting their strides between jumps or simple exercises to help teach your horse to change legs. This was a very special opportunity to learn from someone who has so much experience – though the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly when the ‘mystery rider’ turned out to be Sir Mark himself riding Eilidh Middleton’s CCI** eventer, Buddy!”

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Carole Stewart and her Connemara pony, Finnan, were demo riders alongside Sir Mark in the finale. Carol said she “felt like the luckiest girl on the planet to be invited to be a demonstration rider, but to be riding with Sir Mark in the finale was the stuff dreams are made of”.

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VIPs were treated to an exclusive audience with Sir Mark before the demo, with facilities provided by Esslemont Marquees and the arena cross country jumps were designed and handmade especially for this event by Aberdeenshire Cross Country Jumps. The complete set was auctioned off in aid of Willberry Wonder Pony; a charity set up by Hannah Francis, an ambitious young equestrian who was diagnosed with cancer at just 17 years old. The auction raised £1,600 for the charity to help bone cancer research, especially into osteosarcoma, and grant equine related wishes to seriously ill people.  The jumps are going to Aberdeen Riding Club who wanted them to stay within the area so that riders could come and use these fantastic new facilities. A further £400 was raised in donations made by people spectating at the clinics and from the collection box.

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The weekend also included two days of Arena Eventing Clinics for riders to be coached over jumps with their own horses. The clinic were sponsored by Emily Anderson-Green and Subsea Tooling Services and included lessons from BE80 level up to 1.10+ for 1.5hrs in groups of 5 aiming at riders at all levels of eventing. David Lawson said the ‘the clinics and demos were a huge success and I think Sir Mark was pleasantly surprised by the standard up here, and if the riders take home some of the exercises he taught them, the standard will be even higher when he comes back!”

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Sir Mark said “I had a great time in Aberdeen! It was a busy two days teaching some very talented riders and their horses. The demonstration evenings were also a tremendous success and I’m looking forward to visiting again!”

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Images courtesy of George Michie Sports Photography

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