Alice Oppenheimer on breeding dressage horses and why it’s so special to produce and train home-breds up to grand prix
Young British dressage rider Georgie Nicholls is set to take over the reins of Headmore Difinnity, the 12-year-old dun gelding ridden to international grand prix level by Alice Oppenheimer.
Georgie, 20, is the second rider at the Oppenheimers’ Headmore Stud in Hampshire and is already a multi-national champion, having taken the medium silver title at this year National Dressage Championships, with Headmore Briarwood, adding to the novice and elementary titles she won in 2021.
Alice said she has handed the ride on Caroline Dibden’s Headmore Difinnity – known at home as Finn – to Georgie, who will now target under-25 grands prix with the Don Primero gelding.
“I backed Finn as a three-year-old and have had a fabulous time producing him up the levels to grand prix, competing at many winter and national championships along the way,” said Alice. “We always thought he’d show his best at grand prix and we certainly weren’t wrong, as he made his grand prix debut aged nine.”
A field injury ruled Finn out of action during the latter part of 2019 and 2020, but he returned to top level in 2021, clocking up several plus-70% scores at Premier Leagues that season. Alice rode him to eighth in the grand prix freestyle at Wellington CDI3* this year, and more recently finished 12th with him in the grand prix at the National Dressage Championships at Somerford Park.
“He tried his hardest for me at Somerford this year and I was thrilled with the test, knowing it was my last competition on him,” she added.
Georgie described it as an “incredible opportunity” to be offered the ride on Finn.
“I’m so grateful to his owner, Caroline Dibden, and everyone involved at Headmore stud for their unwavering support on this exciting new journey,” she told H&H. “Finn and I have always had a great relationship on the ground, as he’s always been one of my favourites and I spent a lot of time with him during his rehab, but I am now so excited to see how this develops as we begin our new partnership together.”
Georgie’s success this year has followed her recovery from serious injuries after she was involved in a horrific car crash in January this year. She returned to the dressage arena at the end of April, and has enjoyed a prolific season, also securing a medium win at the Sheepgate under-25 championships in August.
“I know Finn will thrive in his new job of teaching Georgie. She’s already been getting to know him and he absolutely loves showing her all the tricks,” said Alice, adding that Georgie has a steep learning curve ahead of her, having not yet competed above medium level.
“Huge thank you to his amazing owner Caroline, who has always been such a wonderful and generous supporter to us and who has always allowed us to do the very best for Finn no matter what. I know Caroline is also super excited about this new chapter for everyone,” said Alice.
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