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20 Questions with 2021 Delivering Dreams Winner Emma Hulse

We loved catching up with Emma! She shares with us her typical day of training, favourite exercises, what she has in store for 2022 and how the Delivering Dreams Sponsorship has sparked more fire and determination to reach her goals.

 

1. How has the Delivering Dreams Sponsorship impacted your riding career?

 

Winning the sponsorship gave me the push I needed to get back into riding after a two-week hiatus turned into a ten-week holiday for myself and Fiddy. It’s always hard to get back into routine after an extended period of time off but the excitement of winning made me proud and keen to get back in the saddle. The prizes have been exciting, especially the prospect of breeding my own Finch Farm baby in the future! That will help me future proof my riding days!

2. Describe a typical day of training for you?

I try to get in the saddle 4-5 times a week, balancing it between work and social life. We jump once a week – keeping things small so we keep the confidence. I love doing pole work and then the other days we focus on flatwork, keeping Fiddy relaxed as he can get quite anxious when he gets things wrong. I also love a hack out.

3. What are your long term equestrian goals?

Riding is my passion and I want to keep the enjoyment in it always. I’d be absolutely thrilled to complete a 1* eventing class, it’s something I’ve aspired to achieve for a while now. I’m looking forward to 2022 and getting some solid training in with my coaches.

4. How have you been able to successfully develop a partnership with your Eagle Elms Fiderstar (Fiddy)?

Fiddy has definitely been a slow burn. He was difficult to bring back into work for his former owners after two years off, flighty, nappy and anxious. But we took things slow and I made sure to spend a lot of time with him before and after riding to develop our bond. We’re definitely besties now and whenever he gets frightened he puts his chin on my shoulder – it’s super cute.

5. What would advice would you give to younger riders coming through the grades?

Keep it fun and keep yourself and your horse confident. There’s plenty of time to kick all the goals, but you never want to lose the balance of fun and work.

6. What are your expectations for the 2022 competition season?

I want to have a solid go at the 95 eventing classes before advancing to 105. I know that Fiddy has it in him, so it will be about maintaining focus and keeping our training consistent so we see the results we need to progress through the grades.

7. What opportunities has the Delivering Dreams program given you that have allowed you to progress within the sport?

The prizes have absolutely been epic – the Pivo has meant I can rewatch my rides which is amazing because when I hop off and think it was a flop, I can look back at what needs improvement and usually it’s not as bad as it was in my head.

8. Do you have a favourite training exercise?

I love pole work – simple stuff. I find setting up two poles and doing stride adjustments really helpful for my showjumping. It helps me remember the feeling of the canter I need to a fence. It helps me keep a forward focus rather than holding and adding.

9. Describe a typical day of training for you?

Typically simply pole work.

10. How do you overcome challenges you face within the sport?

Nerves and fear have been a big barrier for me after two nasty falls but keeping a tight relationship with my coaches has been paramount. Communicating my fears and frustrations with them, and letting the experts guide me has helped me get over this. The other challenge is the finances behind the sport – I’ve had to sacrifice many social occasions to fund my riding but it’s all worth it for the sport I love. Lucky I have supportive friends who don’t mind coming and spending time with me while I ride!

11. What are the 3 essential items you bring to competitions?

My Akubra – it can get super hot out eventing, extra, extra bailing twine – Fiddy loves to pull off the float, and my NTR products to make sure Fiddy sparkles in the arena!

12. Do you have a routine/any superstitions before a competition?

I have to pack everything the night before and if I’ve done well in the dressage phase I have to re-wear my same outfit for the rest of the phases to keep the luck on me!

13. How do you create a calendar or program that will allow you to achieve your goal of competing at Medium Dressage and EV105 level by the end of 2022?

I look at the competition calendar and mark out the events I’d like to tackle on my home calendar. That way, I can make a plan on how to progress nicely through the year without too much pressure. I then run it by my coaches to get their buy-in and they help me through my training schedule. Doesn’t always go to plan but it’s good to start somewhere.

Emma and Fiddy at their first 95 show-jumping round after lockdown ended at SIEC.

14. What is your favourite aspect of the sport?

Spending time with my horses, just them and I. And then the social aspect – I’ve made so many solid friends who are really good people.

15. Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

“What a wonderful day, I’ve never seen this one before” I love this quote because it’s about staying positive and remembering that every new day brings new opportunities. It’s easy to get caught up on bad days in the saddle so keeping this in mind is just a simple reminder to stay focused and positive.

16. What advice would you give your younger self?

I would have told myself to spend more time working on my mindset – listening to mindset podcasts and reading books that offer advice in this space – keeping positive rather than thinking about what could go wrong.

17. Do you have a favourite competition or location to compete at?

I love all of the country events. You can feel the passion of the committees and it’s so beautiful being out in the rolling hills of Australia’s rural regions.

18. Can you tell us if you have any mental strategies you use or tips to stay focused?

I’ve become more attached to visualizing things going right instead of wrong. If I’m nervous about a jump, or a test, visualizing how it would feel if it went right is so much more productive than replaying it going wrong over and over.

19. When returning from injury what was the most important factor or strategy you used to regain your confidence?

Staying on top of lessons and clinics with coaches I trusted and not pushing myself to tackle things I wasn’t confident about. It takes time and you just have to focus on enjoying yourself. Progress takes care of itself when you are loving what you’re doing.

20. Do you have any fun or quirky facts about Fiddy?

When he eats his hard feed he keeps his front left foot up in the air and his favourite party trick is smiling – lifting up his top lip and showing his teeth off. Super cute!

We look forward to more updates from Emma and Fiddy!If you want to know more about the Delivering Dreams Sponsorship, follow this link.

Images by Spirit Fire Photography.

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