We are delighted to be featuring Bennington owners. This month we speak to silver medal winner Kelly Houtappels-Bruder. Then have a look at our Archive Feature Driver page for more Bennington drivers featured over the years.
Name: Kelly Houtappels-Bruder
Drives: Bennington Carriage, Bennington Single Horse Presentation and Bennington XL Horse: Flip
Top 3 moments from the recent World Championships from Pau last month?
- Every single ride or drive with Flip was pure enjoyment, but flying through the water obstacle was pretty amazing!
- Getting to spend the week with Meike, Corine and Maud who were not only crucial members of my team, but were also a heck of a lot of fun to be around
- Watching Meike try to save our tent at 3am in 90km/h winds and nearly getting blown away in the process!
What motivated you to start carriage driving?
I began carriage driving at age 8 when I grew out of my welsh pony. At first it was mostly traditional driving, but I can still remember driving my first cones course.
Tell us about your super horse Flip?
Flip is a 12 year old Oldenburg gelding by Fidertanz. He is quite a character… always getting into mischief and making us laugh. He loves to work and even though he is quite a worrier, he never ever leaves you hanging in the ring. Flip is a beast in the marathon and has had to work really hard to get to where he is today in Dressage. He loves hacking out and doing the odd dressage show under saddle as well. And he will only eat two treats after a ride. Never one or three, just two.
Talk us through your training week with Flip, leading up to a big competition?
At the height of the season we try to balance intense and non-intense training under saddle and in the carriage. So, for example
Monday – dressage training under saddle (45 mins)
Tuesday – Dressage training in the carriage (1 hour+)
Thursday- dressage under saddle (30mins)
Friday – hack out
Saturday – Intense training in the carriage, dressage and eventually cones (1 hour +)
Sunday - turnout
What is your focus this winter for training Flip?
Flip will have a few days off after the world Championships and then a few weeks of hacking and light dressage work. I’m not a fan of setting horses still, but rather gradually decreasing the intensity of work and putting the focus on relaxation and gymnastic work. Over the winter we will work on strengthening exercises under saddle and maybe (if Covid allows) compete in a few dressage shows under saddle. In the winter we usually just have Flip in the carriage one day a week and then it is fun to go with the family for a big weekend drive through the forest.
Goals for next year?
It is always difficult to set goals when the situation is so uncertain, but we will hopefully be able to get to a few international competitions with Flip and also bring out my young horse Iggy - first just to train at the competitions, but hopefully by the end of the year the goal is to complete a 2* with him. To compete in the UK has been on my wish list for a long time, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that Sandringham will take place in 2021.
What do you do in your down time?
If I’m not off on an adventure with our son Arthur, I do love to cook and bake and read.
What would be your top tip for someone aspiring to compete on the World Championship level?
Learn, learn, learn. Invest in yourself, and not just in your horse and equipment. And never forget to enjoy what you are doing. This sport is way too much work to not absolutely love it!