Deep in the Gloucestershire countryside is Gardners Farm, where you can find this year’s best U25 Badminton winner Alicia Hawker producing and training event horses. Having moved through the British Eventing Pony, Junior, Young Rider and CCI3*-S programmes, 24 years old Alicia is now competing internationally at CCI5*.
Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Alicia in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the story behind this up and coming eventing star:
You have a strong passion for equestrian life and the sport. Were you brought up in this environment as a child?
I grew up on our family farm. My granddad used to breed and train racehorses, and my parents used to ride out for him. By the time I was born all the racehorses were gone but I had a 10.2hh very naughty pony called KitKat!
What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work with horses?
I loved horses and always wanted to ride. By the time I was about 14 I had my heart set on eventing full time.
You have a first class degree in Sports Performance Bsc (Hons). How has this helped with your eventing career?
The modules included lots of psychology, nutrition, s&c. I also wrote my dissertation on the relationship between fear and risk in Eventing. It was really interesting reading the research in other high risk sports – psychology has always interested me.
What advice would you give a school leaver that wanted an equestrian career particularly eventing at top level?
Work hard and set your own goals. Don’t get too worried about what everyone else is doing and prepare yourself/and your horse properly for each competition.
Tell us about the rise of your equestrian career. What have been the ups and downs?
There have been many ups and downs! When I was about 19/20 years old, I fell off on XC a few times that year. Although it was a big down year, I learnt more from that year than the previous eight! It completely changed how I approached and rode XC. I am so grateful for the help my trainer Rhian Jones gave me that year, and also some lessons with Lucinda Green were invaluable.
Congratulations on being the best U25 at Badminton this year! Was it easier to compete at Badminton for a second time?
It was less of a whirlwind! I loved every second – the XC doesn’t get any easier though! Ha
Tell us about your super ride Charlie and the team that are behind you.
My grandad very kindly bought me Charlie when I was seventeen. He was a very unruly five year old! I remember his first BE90, he stood and reared at the top of a step…. it had already taken us six months to get him going into water before the first event! He is now one of the best XC horses on the circuit. He was always so bold and clever, just a bit opinionated to start! He is now the sweetest, kindest horse to have around, my mum and her friend hack him out all the time. He’s still a bit tricky on the flat but has always lived to jump. The bigger, more challenging course the better!
Lewis is a super groom and looks after Charlie day to day and at competitions. Charlie gets some next level pampering!
On a day off, where would we find you?
Sleeping mostly haha … it depends how busy we’ve been. Sometimes a rest and hiding from the weather is priority. Otherwise it would be a festival, downhill mountain biking or wakeboarding with my boyfriend! I love going on an adventure each year and up to the mountains for some snowboarding.
Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?
In ten years I would have hoped to have ridden on a senior team and produced more horses to 5* level – maybe win one ha!
Against the clock:
Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chestnuts
Champagne or Gin: Gin
Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate
Sunshine or Snow: Snow
Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far Away Shores
Spend or Save: Save
Home Cooking or Eating Out: Eating Out
Music or Film: Music
Wellie or Heels: Neither – trainers!
Please visit: www.aliciahawker.com
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