Italian born Daniele Bizzarro swapped life on the outskirts of Turin for English soil to pursue an eventing career. Working as a rider for William Fox Pitt, Dan learned invaluable experience from him which then led to a move to his own yard continuing his ambitious journey to the top of the eventing scene.
Samantha Hobden caught up with Dan recently in Haynet’s Tea in the Tack Room series, to find out more about his busy life training and competing his event horses and what the future holds.
Do you remember the day when you first fell in love with horse riding? Tell us about your Italian childhood spent with horses.
I fell in love with riding when going to the yard with my mother when I was about 8. I started riding from there once a week. A couple of years later and was riding there 3 or 4 times per week. The rest they say is history!
Was it an easy decision to focus a career in equestrian sport? Did you have any doubts?
Yes, I had lots of doubts – it’s never an easy decision to make. I did Architecture at University in Italy so I knew I had an alternative option if the riding didn’t work out. I finished University and decided to give it a go. I then started to ride for an Italian, Bolaffi, who has been my sponsor now for the past 4 years.
What do you look for in a competition horse? Has there been a horse that you have ridden that taught you more than others?
I primarily look for confirmation and attitude – I normally don’t pay too much attention to breeding, apart from the amount of blood they’ve got. I go with what I feel when I ride rather than what I see. Every horse I’ve ridden has helped me learn more about horses in general and helped me to advance my riding technique.
Was the decision to move to the UK an easy one? How often do you get a chance to go back to Italy to see your family?
The decision wasn’t easy but there are more opportunities in the UK – I was thinking of moving for about a year before I did. The fact I was employed by William Fox-Pitt made that decision a bit easier, everything was so exciting. The past 7 years have been harder than I thought, but at the same time, it’s what has made the journey so exciting and rewarding.
What has been your career highlight so far and has there been any lows when you have questioned competing horses?
Being placed 5th in the Italian Championships in 2009 was definitely a highlight, as was competing at Blenheim in 2016. It’s always been one of my favourite events. There have been lots of lows – unfortunately, our sport has more difficult days than easy. As we all know it’s a hard life to live, every day there is a huge amount of commitment required for a small economical return. I’ve had a few days where I wondered if I should have used my time, effort and money to do something else that would give me an easier life, and a little bit more money. But, I get to do what I love every day. I don’t do it to become a millionaire, I don’t need to be a millionaire so I may as well carry on doing what I love.
What are your competition plans this year? Where can we see you ride?
In the next couple of months, I will start to get the horses out at the National events with the aim to compete at Ascott-under-Wychwood on the 15th April. Then we’ll go from there!
Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why?
I look up to Michel Jung, he’s unquestionably the best event rider of the moment. I love the fact it’s mostly his way of producing and riding the horses and his relationship with them that made him so successful. Some of his horses aren’t amazing jumpers or movers but they get the job done without making mistakes. It’s certainly something to learn from. From a management point of view, William Fox-Pitt – his way of treating the horses as animals that need to live as animals, not robots is admirable.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I used to write poems when I was younger! Unfortunately, I stopped when I was about 18. I love music – I play lots instruments; I’m good on the drums, piano, guitar, clarinet and saxophone.
On a day off, where can we find you?
I love visiting places and doing sports, like playing football and tennis with my friends. I do enjoy having down time and doing things that normal people do such as going out for Sunday lunch and spending time with friends.
Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Exactly where I am now doing exactly what I’m doing now but with a couple of 4* horses in the yard.
Against The Clock Questions
Bays, Greys or Chesnuts? Bay
Champagne or Beer? Champagne
Schoolmaster or Youngster? Youngster
Pasta or Pies? Pies
Spend or Save? Spend
Books or Music? Music
Horse Racing or Racing Cars? Racing cars
Please visit: https://www.dbeventing.co.uk/
and follow Dan on Facebook