Tuesday 23rd of July 2024
Pro Secrets

Lesley Peyton-Gilbert

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Fresh from a fantastic few days at Hickstead on Woodcroft Garuda K, coming 2nd in the Grand Prix Special and 5th in the Grand Prix, which was only Garuda’s eighth Grand Prix, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert shares her Pro Secrets with us ahead of the Hartpury Festival of Dressage, which runs from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th July.




Tell us about your horses? Who are you riding at Hartpury this week?
My ride at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage in the CDI, big tour is Woodcroft Garuda K  He is a chestnut Trakhner stallion by the elite sire Meunchausen. He’s 16.3 HH and 13yrs old. I’ve had Garuda with me for the past two and a half years and he belongs to Tim Harris and Berndadette O’Sullivan at the Woodcroft stud. Garuda’s stable name is Ru and he is a really smashing chap, great fun to have around and is quite sure he’s the top man on our yard.
My other top ride is a younger horse called World Exclusive, or Wex. He’s seven years old and is currently at Medium and Advanced Medium, although he is ready to go and do Advanced, but being as he’s quite young and only just finished growing, we are just holding on moving him up the levels. Wex is also chestnut and 16.3hh but is a Westphalian German warmblood and his sire is World of Dreams. He is really cheeky and his pet hates are waiting in his stable and not having his tea on time! He is also really in love with Jemima, a 25 year old mare that lives next door to him! Wex is qualified for the Regional Championships in August, he did the BD Nationals last year at Medium and the Winter Championships at Medium and Advanced Medium, where he got placed in the Medium Open. He is owned by Charlotte Wyche who has had him since he was a weaned foal.


Can you share some of your recent competition results with us?
Last year Garuda and I had our first taste of international competitions on the small tour. This is Prix St. George and either the Intermediate 1 or the Inter1 Kur (which is with music). We did our first competitions in Holland at Drachten, and were very pleased to get a 5th in the Inter1. From there we went internationally to Roosendaal and were 4th in the PSG and 4th in the Kur. At Hickstead CDI we were 5th in the PSG and 6th in the Kur. I was really pleased with this as it was a very good and super consistent start to our international career.
Nationally, Garuda was champion at PSG in the Wellington Music Championship , and was also third twice and by only a whisker at the National Winter Championships at PSG and Inter1 . He also moved up to Inter 2 and, at his only second attempt at the level, came 7th  at the British Dressage National Championships! He also came 5th in the Inter1 . He has numerous wins at Premier League level.
This year Garuda has stepped up to Grand Prix so the winter has been spent training and building up strength and fitness for this level. It is a big step from small tour and he has taken to it well gaining his qualifying percentages of 65%+ at Premier League and getting placed at Addington Premier League in the Inter11 (2nd) and 6th in Grand Prix . At Wellington he came 4th in the Grand Prix with nearly 69% .
Wex is a super horse who is only just starting to cope with his power. He wins regularly at national level and up until the National Championships last summer, he was unbeaten at medium. He has taken to the step up to Advanced Medium really well, and recently at Keysoe, he did four tests in two days, and won them all with 70%+ scores , taking one class by a clear 6%. He also won there at the Premier League in the Advanced Medium, a strong class of 22 with a good 70% score. As you can probably tell, I am very excited about him!



What or who inspires you within the equestrian world? Past and present.
Horses inspire me. They are the reason I do what I do ! I love the challenge of developing them, whether its for me or my owners/pupils.
My biggest inspiration is my 34 year old first dressage horse called Commandant, who I rescued from the butcher in a riding school in the Netherlands. He taught me to ask nicely and to think your way through a problem. He’s still with me so makes me smile every day!


Which country in your opinion does equestrian best? And why?
Having lived in the Netherlands and Germany, both of whom are well known for their horses, interestingly there are more than a few British grooms looking after and running yards in these countries. The reason being, I feel is that in terms of a deep understanding of horses it is the UK that leads the way. We have the tradition, after all Anna Sewell and Black Beauty were British and the book is a rite of passage for all pony mad girls and boys!! I still cry when reading it . It was a book that had much to do with improving the working conditions of horses.
We have a variety of horses and sports as well as a forward thinking BEF (British Equestrian Foundation). Amazing people like Carl Hester who have a clear love of the horse for the horse, not what it can do for him but, as for me, what we can do for the horses in our care and as a consequence produce horses to the highest level of equestrian sport. Feeding, stable management, veterinary care and saddlery are all excellent here and we have the best riders in the world in all disciplines. Not bad for a small rock in the sea.
I think the Dutch and the Germans have something to teach us in the organisation of sport horse breeding but with the likes of Woodlander and Mount St. John to name two, we are rapidly conquering that area too. We also have the excellent (and unique) Futurity programme to help promote and recognise quality in the breeding of horses for sport.


Do you have a favourite equestrian possession?
My gorgeous Joshua Jones dressage boots, they are sooooooo lovely! I cried the other day because I scratched them!


Is there an all time favourite yard/stables that you’ve been too? And why?
The most amazing yard that I have been to is the Royal Stables in The Hague. Long story but I ended up riding horses there. The history and the place were incredible. The indoor school even had a chandelier or two !



What would you like your legacy to be?
I’m involved with the Futurity programme and with regard to my legacy, I would like to think I have had some impact on the development of horses within the sport in terms of having fitter, stronger and better produced horse for all levels.


Do you have an equestrian hero?
Sadly my hero, Danny Pesvner, has just past away.  He really was special.


What is the quality that you most like in a horse?
For me the generosity of spirt and a desire to work is key. Character is everything and there is old Cornish saying…” ‘Ansome is as ‘ansome does”


If you weren’t a Dressage rider, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t doing dressage I would have continued with what I’d was working at in the Netherlands before I decided I only ever wanted to ride horses and that was as an environmental consultant in the oil industry.


What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given? Who gave it to you?
Best advice was from my Mum … Don’t give up!
Danny Pesvner always taught me that your mind is your worst enemy.  He said that in a test you need to control your mind, be more effective with your body and think like the horse.  A horse always knows how to be a horse you don’t always know how to be a rider.


Tell us something about yourself that only you know?
I don’t have time for secrets! You have to remember them and then not tell and I’m too blunt for that!



Do you have a secret superstition before an event?
I don’t really have a real superstition but I have favourite socks and I like to have lucky seven plaits!


What are your top 5 indispensable pieces of kit, for you or your horse?
Equiline breeches
My WOW saddle
Corn broom
Cyclosage rug
Nutraquin +


Against the clock:
Dick Francis or Jilly Cooper?  Dick Francis
Bling or no bling? Bling
Hickstead or Olympia? Hickstead
Sand or Snow? Sand
Tea or G&T? Both
Bay or grey? Bay


Thank you, Lesley, for taking time out to share your Pro Secrets. Good luck this week!

Lesley Peyton-Gilbert: 07977 010452 


Records entries from 20 Nations have been received for the International Festival of Dressage which is to be staged at Hartpury College, set amongst the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside, from Wednesday 9th – Sunday 13th July. Five fabulous days of Dressage including the FEI CDI3*, FEI CPEDI3* and the National Premier League competitions including the Shearwater 4-6 year old Championships Dressage Horse class.

This top level International competition will see some of the world’s leading riders taking part – including Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Michael and Maria Eilberg.  The CPEDI3* entries also contain an excellent line up of competitors including British Paralympic medallists at London 2012 – Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker and Lee Pearson.

The CPEDI3* will run on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in conjunction with the Premier League which continues into the weekend.  The Shearwater 4, 5, and 6 year old Young Horse classes will take place during the day on Saturday and will conclude at the Gala Final Championship.  The International CDI3* will run from Friday to Sunday with the Grand Prix on Friday and the Intermediate I Freestyle on Sunday.



Spectators can choose to view the Gala Evening from a reserved grandstand seat or enjoy the VIP treatment with the ‘Dressage Gala’ package which includes a champagne reception and a superb four course dinner. Whether you are a potential competitor, a fan of the sport or have no idea what dressage is about but fancy experiencing something completely different, the Festival of Dressage Gala Evening promises an evening with the dressage stars!  Sip champagne and then take the best seats in the house for a fabulous four course dinner while watching the performance.  This will be a night to remember as the grace, beauty and elegance of the Superflex CDI3* Grand Prix Music Freestyle gets under way.  Tickets for the champagne reception and four course dinner including wine are £60 per person.


Also taking place during the evening will be the Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Finale, the BYRDS A Squad final and a fantastic display of stallions by the Woodlander Stud.


TICKETS:  Entry to the Festival is free on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with car parking free throughout.  Saturday and Sunday day entry is £5 per person and the Saturday Gala Evening tickets are priced at £16.50 in advance or £20 per person on the door, if available.  Children under 10 are free except to the Gala evening.

Buy tickets HERE

Location: Hartpury is situated on the A417, four miles north of Gloucester.



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