Interview Phoebe Peters – Britain´s next dressage star?

Phoebe Peters (16) is considered as a future Charlotte Dujardin by many experts. Indeed the young dressage rider won everything possible in her age group. She won no less than three gold medals at the Pony European Championships in Sweden last year. Now she is facing a new challenge going to the juniors classes and maybe being as classy as Charlotte Dujardin one day…

In our interview she talked about her world class pony Lucci, about her future riding horses, school and a very busy life she loves.

Even if you won gold medals before I think everyone would agree Malmo was just a perfect championship for you. Which is the moment that first comes to your mind when you think about these days?

Malmo was just a perfect week in general, the atmosphere was so brilliant and I couldn’t have wished to spend the week with better team mates. To finish off my pony career winning triple gold was so incredible and I think I will remember the moments when I finished all of my tests the most because they all felt so perfect and I enjoyed every minute of them.

It was the first time Great Britain won the team competition. Was this a perfect moment for all of you? I saw pictures you seemed to be all real friends on that team?

Winning team gold was so amazing, to think two years ago in Arezzo we were so excited to be back on the podium having won team bronze, to finish as the best team in Europe in 2015 was like a dream come true. As a team we get on so well so to share this experience together was just perfect.

How did you celebrate your three gold medals? Was it even sad to go home after all these great moments in Sweden?

Malmo as a city was so beautiful we loved every minute there, so leaving was very sad, but we all hope to go back there one day as it is such a special place! We all went out on our last evening to celebrate and my family and the people on our yard had a small celebration when Lucci arrived home which felt very special to share the celebrations with my super star.

Many papers compared you with Charlotte Dujardin. Is Charlotte an icon for you? Do you know her personally? Is it your goal to be one day as good and on the top as she is?

The journey Charlotte has been on and her drive and passion for the sport are very inspirational, and to follow in her footsteps or to achieve even half of what she has would be incredible however I don’t want to put pressure on myself to do the same as Charlotte. Myself, I want to achieve the best I possibly can and develop as a horsewoman.

Do you have other role models in your sport?

There are so many inspirational riders in the dressage world that I couldn’t choose one idol, I love to try and learn something from all of them to help me to be the best rider I possibly can.

Your pony Lucci was a perfect partner for you at the championships. What is making him so special for you?

Lucci is simply the most special pony. In Malmo he was with me every step of the way and gave me so much confidence. The first day we trained in Malmo he felt so excited, like he knew it was the Europeans and even then I knew he was going to be incredible the whole week. Lucci is the funniest character, a real comedian in the stable and always wanting attention! But then when you ride him, he is so trainable and tries so hard and always wants to show off when he’s in front of a crowd.

Nevertheless this will be your last year riding ponies. Is this really sad for you?

Finishing my time on ponies is really sad, it has been the most incredible journey from my first CDI at Addington in 2011 with my old pony Hillmen, to finishing as world number 1 with Lucci. I have loved every minute of it and would love to do it all again!

Do you already have a horse to compete at junior level?

I am lucky enough to have the ride on Debbie Brookes’ Denford Surprise, called Parker. Parker is the most lovely horse, who similarly to Lucci just wants to please. We have done very well in the few tests we have done together so far, including 2nd at the National Championships in advanced medium open so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do together. He’s a very talented horse who’s a lot of fun to ride, we may decide to compete at Junior Level or move onto Small Tour.

Your parents and sister seem to be really close to you also at all the shows. Are they your major supporters in everything you do?

My Parents and my sister are the most supportive people ever, they have sacrificed so much for me to do what I do and I cannot thank them enough for everything. We do all of the dressage stuff together so it is even more special when we have amazing success like in Malmo.

Who is your trainer at home?

I have trained with Peter Storr since I was 10 years old and have more recently also started training with Henriette Andersen.

I read you are a very good student as well. So is it always easy for you to combine professional riding with being a student?

I’m very lucky that my school are very supportive of my dressage so are understanding with time off and homework deadlines! But I find time management fairly easy, I like to be organised, so although it means many late nights I can combine my riding with my schoolwork, and get on well as this summer proved winning 3 gold medals and getting my GCSE results of 6 A*s and 5As all in the space of 3 weeks!

Do you already know if you also want to be a professional rider as a grown-up. Or would you like to go to college or do something different?

Of course I would love to have a career with horses, but it is not a cheap profession so I am aware that I may need to go to university and get a job in order to fund my career. At the moment I am considering studying German and Law at university but haven’t made any decisions yet.

How does a typical day look like for you at the moment?

At the moment, I’m studying A levels at school I am lucky to have many free lessons where I can train. So usually I will go to school in the morning from 8:45am until around 1:30pm then spend the afternoon at the yard training before going home to eat dinner, do my physical exercises and do my homework. It´s fairly busy but manageable and I enjoy it.

What do you like to do when not riding?

When I’m not riding I love to watch films and listen to music. I also play hockey so train once a week with my team and play matches on weekends when I’m not competing. I don’t have a huge amount of free time though, nor time for holidays but I did used to love skiing so would definitely like to try and do that again at some time soon!

What do horses mean to you?

Horses are such beautiful animals but for me they are so special because of the relationship you can have with them and what you can achieve together, Lucci and I have such an amazing understanding of each other which has made our time together all the more special.

Why did you decide for dressage? What is especially fascinating for you doing this sport?

I love dressage because of the constant strive for perfection, it suits my personality! And the way that the rider must have such an amazing bond with their horse has always been fascinating for me and I have loved it since I first started it when I was 7 years old.

Do you have a special philosophy in life?

To only worry about what you can control, worrying about anything else is a waste of your brain space and will only stop you from being happy.

Do you have a big dream you want to be fulfilled one day?

I would love to produce a horse from young horse level all the way to Grand Prix, I think the feeling you can get from this kind of achievement must be amazing and is what makes dressage so great.

Interview: Alexandra Koch