Then Tamsin suffered every rider's nightmare - her beloved Captain picked up an injury. With the horse's welfare a priority, she opted to give Captain the whole of the 2014 season off to recover fully. Unlike professional riders who have a yard of other horses to fall back on, this left Tamsin without a ride and no option to compete. Rather than rest on her laurels and curse bad luck, Tamsin made her own luck riding for an Olympian and four-star rider, and forming a new partnership with a white steed which earned her several BE placings in 2014. For overcoming adversity with one hell of a 'Plan B', Tamsin in my next #HeadstrongHero. Read her interview below...
Headstrong Equestrian - Following Captain's injury and the prospect of no competing in 2014, you went on to record eight BE completions riding Voyau Van Berkenbroeck (Brook to his friends!) including three top five finishes. Tell me about the horse and how you came to ride him – did you actively seek another ride or did it come about by chance?
Tamsin: "Deciding to give Captain the year off work was a very difficult decision. Upsetting as it was, I knew he would come back even stronger after the summer out in the field. I found myself with plenty of time and soon decided to advertise on a couple of websites for an event horse on loan for the season or longer. I did find a couple of horses but after going to try them, neither worked out!
Headstrong Equestrian - Why was it important to you to carry on competing and riding whilst Captain was out of action?
Tamsin: "Riding and eventing isn’t just a hobby to me it’s a lifestyle, I find the day to day training routine especially riding in the evenings after a busy day at work very refreshing and relaxing; I can completely switch off from work and focus on the horse!
"It’s so rewarding to see how goals (big or small) & ambitions are achieved by the hard work put in through the working week. I wanted to build on my partnership with Captain and develop my riding by continuing with a new horse as well as enjoying the sport overall."
Headstrong Equestrian – Knowing Captain so well, what was it like riding a different horse and developing a new partnership?
Tamsin: "I have owned Captain for nearly four years now, and before Captain I had a 14 year riding break so I didn’t have any experience of riding other horses. Captain and Brook are very different to ride; Brook has plenty of energy and is very forward going & strong cross country. Brook had only been competed by Sue and ridden by Brenda so it was very different and new for both of us.
Headstrong Equestrian – How did the arrangement work and why was it so successful? Would you recommend this to others?
Tamsin; "I rode Brook most evenings after work and in return helped Brenda to feed, hay and put her other two horses to bed, clean tack and help out where I could. Although there wasn’t any financial arrangement I looked after Brook like he was mine, keeping him clean and tidy, giving him plenty of baths! I would spend most afternoons prior to an event getting him ready and bring my lorry up the morning of an event to load him. Brenda came to events with me but she was as happy for him to go out by himself as she knew he would be really well looked after.
"Thankfully he was superbly behaved at events and so easy to manage which made it so worthwhile. I was very lucky to find such a good arrangement and a lovely horse to event. I would definitely recommend looking into riding other horses, only if the arrangement works for both parties."
Tamsin: "I am trained by Sharon Hunt and without her support and coaching I definitely wouldn’t have had such a successful season on Brook. Over the winter months I’ve helped out Sharon by riding some of her horses and recently taking Captain over for the day or a couple of days to get the most of out of my visits.
"I have definitely gained valuable experience riding a variety of different horses, watching Sharon work and seeing how a professional yard is run, gaining extra tips on yard management too. Over my Christmas break I even met Sharon at a BSJ show, this was really good fun but also saw how she got the best out of her horses at a show, watching her warm up, walking the courses with Sharon and gaining lots of knowledge on lines and turns! I learn as much from the ground as I do from my ridden training."
Headstrong Equestrian – You have brought Captain slowly back into work, and already had a very successful dressage outing winning both classes and scoring over 77%. How much do you think giving him the time off and working so hard in his absence will help you both this coming season?
Tamsin: "I’m sure the break did wonders for Captain, giving him lots of time to relax and unwind and giving all his muscles a total rest. Captain feels better then he has done in years, he is much more balanced and much lighter in my hand. I have brought him back into work really slowly, not asking too much from him over the last 4 months and not putting any pressure on him in our flat work sessions. I've been building his strength by using lots of pole exercises in both trot and canter before introducing jumping.
"The rehab programme was very time consuming and did take many months but it was definitely worth the wait when Captain is schooling and jumping better now than he has in years! I’m sure my summer riding Brook and my winter flatwork sessions with Sharon Hunt helped with our recent dressage results."
Tamsin: "2015 is a year for having fun and ensuring Captain is enjoying his work programme. I’m aiming on bringing Captain back out eventing in March or April depending on the ground and building his confidence back up before making any longer term plans. I would like to go to the Hickstead Derby Meeting in June for a bit of a holiday but also to compete in some of the smaller classes.
"I would love to have another horse to compete so the pressure is off Captain but with working full time in London it’s difficult to find the time to ride two in the evening. If I got offered a ride on another horse I would definitely consider it, if the arrangement worked for both the owner and myself!"
To follow Tamsin's 2015 season and track Captain's comeback, check out Tamsin Drew Eventing on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.