Chris Hector interviews Simone Pearce…
Roslyn Neave took the photos
Simone Pearce glows naturally, she just has that sort of personality, but after she has ridden two go rounds at a World Championship, placing fourth in the Five Year olds, and FIRST in the six year olds, then Simone is on a serious high on the night before the Finals, and the laughter is never far away…
Did you really come to the World Championships expecting to lead one, and be fourth in the other, going into the final?
“No. The simple answer is no, I did not – but I’m really grateful that I did.”
Simone and Casablanca
But you must have known you were sitting on a couple of fairly flash ponies…
“To be honest, with the young horses I don’t think you ever really know. I cannot predict the judging, but I knew I had two horses that could do really solid programs, and they were good horses and I’m really happy that the judges saw their quality.”
Do you train differently for a Young Horse class than you do for a Grand Prix?
“The Grand Prix horses I really don’t train so much. Young horses a bit more, but I don’t train that much generally, I’m a little more on the light side of training compared to the other riders, I think, just because I want to protect their health. The Grand Prix horses I’m training maybe twice a week, and then it is out on the gallop track and that sort of thing, the young ones are more like four times a week with training/training, and then they too get out on the gallop track.”
Simone and Casablanca warm up
I’ve heard that where you are based at Helgstrand is like the middle of nowhere…
“We have a saying that when you are driving to Helgstrand, you drive to the end of the earth, and then keep going.”
What’s life like at the end of the world?
“I have to say it’s quite hard living there because I’m a really social person and I really miss being close to the big city and having my friends, but when I went there it was a sacrifice I wanted to make to see where it could take me with my career.”
What attracted you to Helgstrand?
“They have been so successful with so many riders, they have the ability to nurture people into what they want, and eventually can become, so I trusted Andreas when he called me and said ‘ I will make you successful’. You can’t argue with Andreas when he says that.”
I certainly get the impression that there has been a bit of a change in the Helgstrand Stable style… two years ago at Verden, Andreas rode in an extreme spectacular way, but when he rode the horses here at Ermelo, it was much quieter, more sympathetic…
“I can’t really say that we’ve had a thought out plan to change anything, but I can see a development in the way we ride, a little bit more of a technical test that we are aiming to ride, rather than just spectacular – of course it is fantastic when you can ride a trot for a 10. I think the riders at Helgstrand all have different styles, we are not all trained by the same person and we are not all going in the same direction, but we end up in the same place and we all came here wanting to do a good safe, technical test.”
Roslyn saw you warm up and she said she was really impressed by the guy who warmed you in, Thomas Sigtenbjerggaard…
“In the last month I think I’ve had a big development with my riding, with the Grand Prix and the young horses. It’s my first time to consistently ride to the best of my ability, and I credit that to Thomas, because it is not really about the riding, it is about the mental state, and he is really into calm and consistent.”
Simone and Feodoro in the six-year-old class
I’ve often thought that what happens to people when they come to Europe, if they go somewhere good, it is not that someone is telling them what to do all the time, it’s because there are others riding at the same time, and they are riding well and to the max, and so you just have to make yourself better…
“It’s totally like that, at Helgstrand particularly. We have fifteen riders and they are all international level, top riders, so if you want the chance to ride the good horses, you cannot drop the ball for a second. We are not trained day-to-day, if we have a problem you can ask for help, but it is more like you say, pushing yourself rather than someone pushing you.”
What has Ulf Möller added to the recipe?
“As you can see with the test we’ve been producing, he’s definitely looking at the finer details and that’s really helped all of us. Not necessarily that he is training us specifically, but his influence has got us to think more about the fine details.”
That’s a walk for 10!
Your two horses, what about their personalities?
“They are like opposites. Casablanca, I think she is fantastic, she is a Grand Prix horse in the making, absolutely. Her trot is fantastic but her mind is absolutely amazing. We had a really rough warm up with tents flying everywhere and rain, and she was really quite scared to go in there. She came in a little bit oh my god I’m scared and she let me say, I’m okay, we’re okay, we can do this together, and she did it.”
The six year old?
“Feodoro, he’s definitely going to be a Grand Prix horse. He works with you but he also has a very strong opinion on what he would like to do at the same time. Casablanca is like, okay what do you want me to do, Feodoro’s like, yeah but I think we could do it better if we do it like this. But he’s fantastic as well, he’s really developed a lot in the past two months. I enjoy working with both of them.”
And are you going to hold it together and win the final?
“To be honest, I’m not expecting to win. I want to do again a really good, clean test, that’s my goal. Good, consistent, no mistakes…”
“That would be the icing on the cake!”