Amy’s yard manager Claire greets me and I am walked through an immaculate yard into Amy’s tack room – the smell of clean leather is the polar opposite of my childhood memories of ill-fitting, unwashed tack and Thelwell ponies and I quickly make a rash assumption that this is a woman born into a world of horses and/or wealth.
The first thing I learn, however, is that Amy’s history contradicts nearly everything that people assume in the world of horses. She wasn’t born with a silver spoon and given her first pony before she could walk – in fact quite the opposite, which makes her story all the more interesting.
Amy’s passion for horses began as a child when she worked at Dorte Semler’s yard as a groom. As time progressed it became the training ground of world-renowned dressage rider Kyra Kyrkland, and between the enthusiasm of Dorte and Kyra they cemented Amy’s firm passion for dressage. It became her life from there on in, but it was her initial experiences with these two incredible mentors that encouraged her determination and set her on a path to a competitive career. She wanted to be the best and to win – all she needed was the right horse.
Amy has competed up to Grand Prix level for Great Britain on a horse called MacBrian. In 2010, they competed at the world-renowned Olympia International Horse Show and finished fifth in a star-studded field. At this point, Amy was selected as part of the World Class Programme – and this was a bit of a turning point, with support ranging from training to sports psychology, nutrition and physiotherapy. From this, Amy was then selected as part of a group who travelled to the Olympics to see the Games as an athlete from backstage. This was a moment that has stayed with Amy, driving her forward and spurring her desire to achieve her goals.
So, the interview begins with me having a core belief in the motives that drive this lady. She is not only ambitious and family orientated, but determined within her sport. A role model for the modern woman, some might say.
You are an athlete and also a mummy. How have you found this transition?
I think if I am honest, I have found it tough – clearly not nearly as bad as some but I am so used to using my body daily for my work and sport that the pregnancy really threw me out of kilter! I am a slightly older mother as well, so the idea of bouncing back and the managing of sleepless nights was a little bit trickier.
I didn’t really take maternity leave as the horses and yard needed me back, but bizarrely enough, I found that Covid almost forced me to do this – and I loved it! I found myself not stressing about all that wasn’t being done, quite simply because I couldn’t do it – and so there I was creating beaches in the garden with Florence and spending hours discussing different butterflies on the downs. I felt I really needed this space and so – whilst money was tough – I am grateful for this time.
My husband is an equine vet so this helps with my horses on a day-to-day basis – it does, however, mean that our conversation round the dinner table can be a little horse heavy!