World Number 1
Since the end of 2012, Scott Brash has held the number 1 slot on the Longines Ranking List, a position he continues to hold steady thanks to an amazing career.
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Born in Scotland, in 1985, he is strongly linked to his homeland; his stable, Castlehill Farm, in fact, has a permanent base in Peebles, not far from the capital Edinburgh. He is Olympic gold medal team winner, a title he achieved in London in 2012 with his champion horse Hello Sanctos, where he also achieved 5th place individually. He won the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Final of the Global Champions Tour, again with Hello Sanctos, becoming the youngest rider to have ever won the title. Further victories still as winner in 2013 of team gold and individual bronze at the European Championships in Herning with Hello Sanctos and third in the Cup Final of the World Championships in Lyon with Ursula XII. He took part in two World Championships, Lexington 2010 with Intertoy Z and Caen in 2014 with Hello Sanctos. He finished the 2014 season with a double victory of the Top Ten Final and of the Grand Prix of CSI5* in Geneva with Hello Sanctos, in addition to the victories of the other four Grand Prix competitions and countless places of honour in the Cup of Nations. His extraordinary Hello Sanctos was named 'Horse of the Year’ 2014.
Scott Brash boasts a top level stable. Among its experts and most loyal competitors are Hello Sanctos, Ursula XII, Bon Ami, and Annie in addition to other excellent young horses. At home, in fact, he also has a small horse breeding facility with three mares. Scott Brash likes to breed horses at home, both due to the high costs of top level horses but mainly because he is convinced that competitive success basically depends on the pairing, on the partnership created between horse and rider, one which goes beyond every concept of technique, essentially, of application of a method:
"I believe in the feeling that is created between horse and rider. It is the most important thing when competing on today's tracks. They are so technical, so delicate, so fast and complex not only in themselves but with regard to the surrounding environment, full of people, the noise and the tribunes, which are a source of stress for the horses. That's why the horse must have confidence in the rider and the horse/rider couple should be able to isolate itself and perform in its race with full concentration. For this reason I get on every horse and adapt myself to it, searching for that feeling through sensitivity rather than with technique.
But, beyond their genius and their potential, in order to give the best in a competition and to stay focused, horses should be able to enjoy their free time amidst nature. This is essential for their physical and mental freshness. After a competition all my horses are in the paddock on Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, they alternate the paddock with a little relaxing work. If they have another race, they head off again or participate in conditioning work at home. I believe that the priority should be that horses lead a life that is in keeping with their nature".
Brash has a 'typically' Scottish character; he is reserved, shy and is always focused on his goals: his horses, his work, his competitive commitments. Indeed Brash moves with ease through the big competitions not only as top rider but as a true horseman, despite his relative youth, which is thanks to his roots. He was very young when he started horse riding but already knew his business. Passion is what soon made him become a champion.
Scott Brash interview
Scotland, land of horses by tradition. At the age of seven, you had your first pony. From there you became world number one: when you started off as a child, did you ever imagine you would become world number one, the youngest person ever, among other things, to have held this position?
“When I started, I never dreamt of becoming world number one. I just wanted to ride a horse. It was only when I was selected for the London Olympics and after winning the medal that I realised that something was really happening in my life. When I joined the Olympic team, I started to become aware of what I was perhaps becoming. The medal made me believe that I was actually succeeding”!
Your stable is in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland is quite far from central Europe, where the heart of equestrianism is. Many riders choose to move to Germany, Holland or Belgium, yet you remain in your home at Castlehill Farm. Why this choice? How do you organise your trips around the world?
“It is of course more difficult to organise journeys and trips from Edinburgh than people living in central Europe but I have the good fortune of having many friends that accommodate me at their stables during competition tours. They are great friends and they help me with my own horses and in management of these periods away from home. But I love returning home. When I reach Edinburgh, my heart opens. I am always happy to return home and that's where I want to be. The climate, the air I breathe, being at home, my stable... my heart is Scottish and also that of my horses”.
Your riding is beautiful, you have a style and your feeling with the horse it is just perfect. What are your principles? What are the basic techniques that you always refer to?
“The basis of my riding is the communication with the horses. Each horse has his own personality, his character, his style. I try to understand every detail and to put the horse at its ease choosing shows that are suited to it, being aware of the fields and the terrain they prefer and the type of competion with which they best express themselves. Understanding and feeling are essential, they are indispensable. I work to improve, I try to do better, to learn more from my horse”.
You have achieved the highest goals at just 29. What would you like to change about yourself? What would you like to obtain? From the time you started until today, having achieved the position of Top rider worldwide, how has Scott changed as a man and as a rider?
“Being number 1 has not changed my way of being and thinking; reaching the top does not mean standing still. I'm still the same Scott, both as a rider and as a person, I still feel the same and I hope this will always be the case. Before being good rider, it is necessary to be a good horseman of experience, we need to understand the horses, know what they want, what they like, what makes them happy and relaxed. The couple is very important and is the basis of success. It is a winning combination and ultimately it is the partnership not the technique. That's what I believe”.
You love rearing horses at home because you believe in the feeling that is created right from the start. This, for example, was the case with Ursula, a mare of Scottish pedegree, and Hello Sanctos who you've had in the stable right from a foal. What do you feel when you 'create' a champion?
“It's great to breed a horse, to raise it, train it, enter the first competition and see his progress. Then at a certain point, there's this 'click' where it makes a leap in quality and becomes a champion. They are unique sensations, which are repeated each time. This was the case with Ursula, who was born in Scotland, and Hello Sanctos, who has been in my team since the age of six. They are horses that happen once in life time”.
Is it hard to part from a horse you have built your career on? Nowadays there is a large market for horses for big figures in the wealthy countries, for the Arabs and the Chinese. What's your opinion on this? Do you think it's right that a rider can enter major international events just because they have bought a top horse?
“The horse trade and the entry of new teams into the sport have their advantages. The sport is evolving, the couples are increasing, the competitions and the facilities of the competitions are always top quality. The financial aspect has its place because it supports the sport and attracts important new sponsors that are the necessary engine of our sport. By contrast, there is the flip side. There are many riders who buy the top horses and participate in shows beyond their ability. Luckily I have not found myself in this situation but if someone made me an offer for one of my horses, I would only want to sell it to those with proper management that would guarantee him the happy life it deserves and currently enjoys, that would ride it properly and with an awareness of his limitations. All of this is much more important than money. Money doesn't make you happy whereas horses do. Knowing that my horse had ended up in the wrong hands would be unacceptable to me. Luckily my sponsors think exactly like me, share this aspect and always respect my decisions. I consider myself very lucky in that regard”.
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