Isobel Lickley, team GBR pony rider pops in to chat to us about her recent successes, her ponies and new venture.
Izzy is just embarking on her 5th season as an international rider with her string of super talented ponies, Gigolo, Valido’s Sunshine and Mister Snowman. She’s been on the Team GBR pony team three times; once with each of the ponies. Currently ranking 14th in the FEI league tables; she’s chalked up 66 placings and 10 wins internationally.
Hi Izzy! Thanks so much for agreeing to take part in our Q&A series!
Tell us how you got started riding and when you realised you wanted to pursue dressage as a discipline? Did you try any other disciplines before settling on dressage?
I started riding before I could walk, my mum used to put me in a basket saddle and walk around with me on the lead with my first pony Poppet. Between the ages of 5-8 all I thought about was Show Jumping, I hated flatwork and dressage, all I wanted to do was jump. However, my talent for jumping was extremely poor, I would often spend more time on the floor than on my pony. My mum once said to me that if I could put Dexter’s (her old Grand Prix horse) bridle on then I could ride him. So, I took a stool and managed to put the bridle on Dexter- an 18-hand tall softy. So, mum stuck to her promise and let me ride him, my legs barely reaching the end of the saddle flap, she walked around with me and then let me try piaffe on him. That when I knew I wanted to do dressage. It was such an amazing feeling
Wow, that sounds like such an amazing experience - Dexter sounds like such a sweetie!! So, this is your last year in ponies which means the start of a new chapter as a rider for so many people; what’s next for you and your riding?
I will move into juniors. However next year will bring new challenges as I have decided to go to boarding school. I am extremely thankful that I have the resources and talent of my mum who will ride my horses in the week whilst I’m at school- it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m excited for what the future holds, both with school and horses.
That's a huge change, but sounds incredibly exciting for you! You’ve had an amazing pony career so far, what has been the highlight for you and why?
I think the highlight of ponies was being selected for the Pony Europeans last year on Snowy. It felt like such an achievement, so many people had told me that Snowy wasn’t good enough and that we would never make it to a championship, never mind be one of the best ponies in Europe. I always believed in Snowy and the talent he showed and still does, we didn’t click from the go but now we are 14th in the world. it feels so amazing to be able to recognise all your hard work with a reward like that.
That's such an amazing achievement; it must have felt great to be able to show people what you knew Snowy was capable of. Hes such a cutie and we've loved watching you compete him!
You've mentioned how lucky you are to have the support of your mum with the riding of the horses, tell us - what does a typical day look like for you – balancing school and the ponies training must be tricky!
Balancing school and ponies whilst in Y10 and Y11 was a struggle. However, I had to stick to a routine and a plan. I would get to school early in the mornings so I could do any homework I didn’t get chance to do the night before. After school I would ride from about 4:30-5:15/6:00 depending whether I was riding 1 or 2 ponies/horses. My dad truly has been amazing, every night without fail he would finish work and be waiting on the yard for me so he could finish the ponies/horses off so I could go and do homework.
Being organised is half the battle when you're balancing school or work, training and competing - having supportive parents is a huge help! Competing internationally, you get to spend time with some amazing riders – who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
My mum- she truly is an inspiration. She sits every night at 4:30 when I get home from school in the arena training me and nit picking every detail in the tests to get me where I am today. She sold her international horse, so that Mister Snowman could become part of our team. She has been so selfless the past 5 seasons so that I could fulfil my hopes and dreams and for that she is a massive inspiration and I’m so thankful
*wiping a tear at this point* - You must feel incredibly lucky to have that level of support.
Which is your favourite show across the world – tell us what makes it so special?
My favourite show has to be Le Mans. I have competed there 3 times- once with Sunny and twice with Snowy. It was my first international on both Sunny and Snowy and I have had a lot of success at Le Mans. The venue is such a nice place with a beautiful, spacious arena and amazing facilities at the showground.
You’ve recently started a new venture – Lickley Ponies – tell us about that? What prompted the decision to start breeding ponies?
Most people set out to breed the perfect Grand Prix horse with the aim for it to compete at an Olympic Games. I am setting out to breed the perfect ponies to take pony riders to Europeans. I am very lucky to have amazing experience around me, with my mum and dad breeding some amazing horses who have later on gone to the World Championships.
I have Valido’s Sunshine, who will be my foundation mare and also, I have a pony foal called Savoir Faire. Ultimately, I want my team to be a lot bigger, so let’s see what happens after Covid-19.
My ultimate aim is to breed or own all four ponies on a British team winning a gold medal (and maybe some individual ones). However, I am not going to sell all my ponies. I want to give talented riders the opportunity that I have had.
Watch this space for the ponies of the future..!
Quick fire round:
Favourite saddlepad brand?
PS of Sweden
Favourite rider wear brand?
Boots or bandages?
It depends on the pony/horse
Mare or Gelding?
Doesn’t matter as long as we click as a partnership
Favourite dressage exercise or move?
I do love a good walk pirouette.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Izzy, we'll be watching the future unfold with your breeding ponies closely and wishing you all the luck with it.