Tracey Lawson Dressage: Freelance dressage trainer for HampshireFrom an early age until my mid 20’s it was show jumping that put the sparkle in my eye and in 1990 I spent the most brilliant year in Italy working with Collonello D’Inzeo (the Italian equivalent of our David Broome.) Such a super experience and I still draw on many of the things that I learnt in the show jumping world for the teaching of my jumping clients flatwork.
In 1992 I had the most fantastic year in Australia where I really got the bug for eventing. I was so lucky to be able to ride 3 brilliant event horses, Bobby, Chloe and Radar. One of my fondest memories is of a well known Ozzy eventer saying to everyone else on the cross-country clinic after one of my rounds on Radar “Now you lot, I want you to do it all just like Tracey”. Pride comes before a fall and at the next clinic I got a tad in front of Radar over the drop fence into the water (too busy looking at our reflection) and got a thorough ‘back to reality’ soaking!
Chloe then proceeded to change my life forever. Something really ‘clicked’ when I was riding her on the flat, I seemed to be pushing buttons that I hadn’t realised were there. We found a harmony, elevation, connection and a liquidity that I had never felt before and certainly at the time never knew how to reproduce! Chloe inspired me on my return to England to pursue the dressage further as I built up my freelance business. I trained weekly with Nicky Barrett and she really helped me confirm my love for dressage by helping me teach my mare tempi changes and a really quite good passage! I continued my BHS training and in 1997 (having already passed my BHSAI in 1986) passed my BHS Intermediate Teaching Test and Stage 4 riding.
Whilst attending a BHS Convention I saw something that reminded me of the things that Chloe in Australia had shown me were possible. A lady was riding (floating actually) with such a ‘oneness’ with her horse, completely invisible aids, horse dancing with calmness yet full of power, as if they couldn’t help but do it……..That’s how I wanted to ride!…….Not like all the others on the convention who seemed to be doing a lot of kicking and pulling and dare I say……bouncing!
That lady was and is Alex Cookson from the TTT (Training the Teachers of Tomorrow) in Guildford Surrey. I contacted them and they agreed to train me, the only problem being I lived 2 hours away. So in 1997 I moved from Essex to Surrey and the TTT has been my second home ever since!
My life since then has evolved around passing on all the amazing knowledge my trainers have given to me onto my clients. I just love that moment when the person you are training has a “light bulb moment” of understanding. They suddenly “feel” the concept of what I am trying to explain and start to float around the arena nodding and grinning saying “Why has nobody ever taught me this before!!!!”.
One of my most favourite journeys that I have had with a client is a girl that I started training at the age of 11 on her little pony in 2001. I remember telling her mum how talented and easy to train I thought she was as she sat laughing on the lunge whilst we developed her seat and balance. As her riding developed (and she doubled in height!) she started her dressage career first with unaffiliated, then after lots of hard work, affiliated dressage. Level by level as I trained her, she climbed up the British Dressage ladder and in 2006 was asked to be on the British National Junior Team Squad. 7 years after we had started our training together, having qualified for the regionals, she qualified for and competed at the 2008 British Dressage National Championships at Stoneleigh at Advanced Medium Open level. Helping her warm up for the regionals and nationals was all part of the service. They are now ready for Prix St George, what a wonderful journey to have been part of.