Following the success of Osborne House Trials in July, London Capital & Finance is proud to be title sponsors in the upcoming Osberton International Horse Trials this September.
With less than 3 weeks to go, we caught up with one of our youngest sponsored riders, Alycia Port, to find out how her preparation is going ahead of the event and learn how she balances life as an aspiring equestrian rider and a career in the City of London.
Alycia, how do you balance your life as a busy rider and your career?
I work in London in Equine Underwriting and am very lucky to have an interesting job that involves my passion too, all within financial services.
My day starts early, mucking out from 6am before getting on the 7.20am commuter train to get to the office by 8.30. I work until 5 and reach home at about 6.15, ready for an evening with the horses.
Currently, I have 5 horses in work, (4 eventers and 1 dressage), which is a bit of a strain but I like to think that if you want it enough the dedication comes easily.
I have to be pretty organized and have a very reliable helper who hacks out twice a week which then allows me to stay later in London if work requires it or not worry if I have a business trip. It also means I mainly do school work with the horses.
Most evenings, I will ride 3 to 4 horses, again helped massively by my super supportive mum - who helps finish the evening stables - giving me time to groom and tack up before riding.
Typically I am still riding by 9pm, a side benefit is that all my horses are used to working under floodlights!
It is hard work to maintain this level of activity week to week, but so rewarding when my horses gain confidence, improve, compete against top riders and ultimately (if all works out!) gain results.
Since going full time in the city my ambitions have not changed and remain to ride at the top level, but the journey to that place has been slightly adjusted.
How do sponsors like LCF help you as a rider?
I know I am incredibly lucky to have fabulous sponsors. LCF are very supportive of my ambitions and the route that I am taking in order to achieve my goals.
I understand how valuable that assistance is, especially as I am not a top professional rider in the limelight like the multi-medalists I often compete against, so I appreciate every ounce of support & encouragement, both emotionally and financially.
This extra support has opened new doors for me and recently this meant I would probably not have competed at the inaugural Osbourne Horse Trials if it weren’t for the support of LCF and that was an opportunity I would cherish as a highlight of my 2018 season.
The ‘#teamLCF’ environment has been fantastic and has generated a morale amongst the riders who offer help and guidance to each other. I hope that I can show dreams can come true, and LCF are ultimately helping me achieve my goals.
Are there any competitions you may do to prepare for Osberton?
Coming up to Osberton I have a run of events, both with my top horse Klotilde who will compete in the 2 star at Osberton, and the younger and less experienced horses.
We head to Gatcombe International this weekend where Klo will contest the CIC2star, and she will then go straight to Osberton following that. We will focus on her fitness, as the Osberton cross country course will be the longest we have both contested before - so it is important to do plenty of stamina work.
Klo may also do some pure showjumping in order to brush up on this particular phase, but it is important to not change too much ahead of a big competition when ultimately we are on track.
What do you pack for an event like Osberton?
We are away for 5 days at Osberton, so packing for most eventualities - especially in the British climate - is important. One of the most important things is plenty of ice for use after Klo’s strenuous cross-country day. She will be required to ‘trot up’ in front of a vet on Sunday morning, so plenty of ice and her massage pad are vital to keep her loose and reduce any chances of injury. On top of that, I tend not to eat very much at a big event but it is important to keep my fluids up, so I will take plenty of energy drinks and my personal fitness trainer will recommend shakes that will help keep my energy up whilst not making me feel full and bloated.
Are there any particular routines that you do, which you have picked up over the years?
When it comes to a big event, the planning and strategy mentally are as important as the physical preparation. When walking the course, I will walk it once to work out the route, but generally not pay too much attention to the detail, secondly I will probably ask for help from a top rider or trainer, and then the third and final time I will take time at each fence to work out the line, how the horse will feel, how I should react, and how exactly I will ride. This is the plan I will then continually go over in my head so that when it comes to the real approach there is a detailed action plan. Although things never go exactly to plan it is important to have it clear in my head how I will tackle each element and every detail of the course.
What are you most looking forward to at Osberton?
I am really looking forward to Osberton, this is only my second ever 3 day event, and first CCI 2star. I am very lucky to be sat on a tricky but talented mare, who is a real thrill to jump, and I always love being at an event where the people who know how much it means to me are there to support. I could not do any of this without family, friends, sponsors and owners and am eternally grateful to everyone who has faith in me as a real amateur. The support LCF is offering to the eventing community is invaluable, and I am so lucky for every opportunity which allows me to reach my goals.
Thank you Alycia, that's been a fun, informative Q & A. Best of luck at Osberton and with the end of your year.