Higher Education and FEI Young Rider Eventing, can it be done?
Australian 19yo FEI Eventer Eliza Harvey has recently relocated to Hartpury University in the UK, to pursue her equestrian dreams while continuing her studies. Her horse, Evergem Perfection, is due to arrive soon, and the pair will begin preparing for a busy 2020 Eventing season. Eliza will update us here on the in’s and out’s of British Eventing, and what it means to be a YR based overseas.
Firstly, a massive thank you to Lumiere for giving me the opportunity to blog on eventing life in the United Kingdom. I can’t wait to share with you this crazy adventure I have found myself on..
This ‘crazy adventure’ started in 2015 when I decided I wanted to take this sport seriously. At only 15, I am certain my parents and family thought (and hoped) it was just a ‘passing phase’. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, I was determined.
But then came the slight dilemmas. Could I give up my love of learning after school to chase the horsey dream wholeheartedly? If so, did I have to relocate overseas to chase my eventing goals as well, as most of our top riders do at least once?
Thankfully, I found an answer to both dilemmas through a mutual friend.
In 2016, I saved enough to fly over and attend the open day. It was everything I could have dreamed and more! Below is an excerpt from a blog I wrote after the 2016 visit-
“I plan to work pretty hard to get the opportunity to go to Hartpury. It won't be easy, nor will packing up and flying across the world, but talk about a place to fulfill your potential. To gain life skills, contacts, and friends. Oh, and compete in the European events (including Hartpury’s very own events)!”- 2016
So what is this all-elusive Hartpury University? In short, it is a College and University specializing in diplomas and degrees for Animal Sciences, Agriculture, Equine and Sport. It has unparalleled facilities and lecturers in all of those departments, and the opportunities they offer are fantastic!
Hartpury also showcases World-Class Sporting Academy’s and facilities to aid elite athletes in their pursuits while they study. They have several Olympic medals to their name from their Alumni, and have just had an £8.8 million sporting facility built to develop the next generation of athletes. There is a range of sports here, from golf to rugby (which we get to watch on Wednesdays, it's awesome), to pentathlon, netball, football, and equestrian.
The Equine-only facilities do not, by any means, disappoint. There are 3 indoor arenas, one of which is 70mx40m seating upwards of 550 people, multiple outdoor arenas with Olympic surfaces, XC up to FEI 4*, a recently upgraded rider fitness gym, horse dry treadmill, horse water walker (which occasionally catches a visit from Valegro), multiple horse walkers, 140 stables, manicured turn out and a 5km in-property hacking trail. There are competitions every weekend, and Hartpury has also been chosen to host the 2020 Jnr and YR European Championships, so we are looking forward to further upgrades!
As athletes, we have access to 3 simulator horses, which can perform dressage up to Grand Prix, Event to 4*, showjump, and race, Sports Nutritionists, Personal Training, Sports Psychology, coaches including the likes of Nick Skelton, Corrine Bracken, Lizzel Winter, Nick Burton, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, and a plethora of help with season & training planning.
The academic life is pretty incredible too I must say. I am studying Equestrian Sports Science (BSc Hons), which focusses on all of the aspects of top performance for horse and rider. It is performance, and how to improve performance, based on Science. For those that know me, know this is right ‘up my alley’, as I like to train correctly and efficiently to best aid the horse. My classes currently include Sports Psychology, Human Anatomy, Equine Anatomy, Equine nutrition, and my favourite, ESS, where we look at the governing bodies in our sport and our place in the bigger community. We are currently looking at FEI and where it aims to take our sport, it is pretty amazing!
I am incredibly excited to have my beautiful Evergem Perfection (Ollie) joining me here from Australia in 4 days. The students are responsible for caring for their own horses, so our days are busy!
We have Mondays off, so a generic academic day in my life will look like:
6.30 am- Mucking out and morning feed
7.00 am- Ollie Walker for 20 minutes
8.00 am- Breakfast in the cafeteria (think American style, it is so cool!)
9.30am-12.30pm- Lectures and Study. Lectures vary in times from day to day, we have 15 contact hours p/w, and are expected to do a minimum of 20 hours of independent study each week.
12.30 pm- Ollie’s lunch and turn out time
5.30 pm- Mucking out and evening feed
6.30 pm- My dinner
7.15 pm- Night Check
For those interested in attending a university like Hartpury, I highly recommend chatting to your school's careers office to gain an understanding of what pre-requisites are required. I completed the 2 year International Baccalaureate program instead of VCE/A Levels etc, and I highly recommend the IB if you plan on completing International study.
In terms of the Elite Equine Academies, you have to be Eventing at CCI3*-L or above, Dressage at BD Medium Level or Showjumping at BS 1.30m and above. There is also the Elite Development and Development squads for lower levels to aid your training and aim you at the Elite Academy. After submitting your application, you can then be invited to trial in front of the coaches, selectors and academy team. Ollie and I will participate in our trial at the end of October, wish us luck!
I took a gap year and a half to work & save for this big journey, but I won’t lie, it is a big financial investment! I am incredibly fortunate to have the support of my amazing family (my mum does not take ‘not possible’ as an answer!) and incredible sponsors including Lumiere, who have all made this dream a reality.
I am now crossing all of my fingers and toes that Ollie will arrive safely, but I know he is in the best possible hands. We will then be training hard over (our) winter, looking to showjump over some bigger tracks, before our eventing season starts next year.
Until next blog!
- Eliza x
You can follow our journey here:
Thank you for this marvelous article! I like the details and the whole story is so refreshing.
Enjoyed reading the blog above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good luck for the upcoming blog