Alice Oppenheimer is a dressage rider and trainer. She and her mother breed, produce and compete horses under the banner of the Headmore Stud. Her success include regional and National titles and she represented Great Britain at the 2009 European young rider Championships.
What would you do if you didn’t ride horses? I have three A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths and if I didn’t ride horses I would probably study chemistry at university but I don’t know what I would do once I had my degree. I’ve always wanted to ride horses for a living so I’ve never really put any thought into an alternative career.
Why did you decide to go into dressage? My Mum bought a rogue dressage horse in 1998 and he went on to win three national titles. I used to go and watch him compete and I remember saying to my Mum that one day I wanted to do what he was doing. Around that time I got a pony called Dusty who had me off every time we jumped so she also steered me towards dressage.
When is your next competition? I don’t have any booked at the moment as we are having a bit of a break over the winter but we will be doing the Winter Regionals in February.
How often do you muck out? I’m lucky enough that on an ordinary day I don’t have to do any mucking out but I always muck out at Christmas as we give all of the staff the day off and I also have to muck out when it snows as not everyone can get to the yard. When we go to stay away shows I tend to do the mucking out as well as I don’t have as many horses to ride. I quite enjoy mucking out when I do it, I find it very rewarding transforming a dirty bed into a lovely clean one, I’d definitely much rather muck out than clean tack!
Who has the best yard you’ve visited? When I was at the Young Rider European Championships in 2009 we were fortunate enough to visit Edward Gal’s and Hans Peter Minderhoud’s yard in Holland. It is, without doubt, the most amazing yard I have ever seen, and we got to meet Gribaldi, Nadine, and Florencio amongst others, as well as having the delight of meeting Totilas and watching him work, which was mind blowing.
What was the last thing you bought a ticket for? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one at the cinema!
When was the last time you went on holiday? I have never had a ‘proper’ holiday, Mum and I call our stay away shows our holidays! I have been on a few school trips though; the last one was a basketball tour to Holland in 2007. We spent six days playing basketball during the day and partying at night, as well as doing some day visits, one to PSV Eindhoven’s stadium and one to the theme park Phantasia Land. It was brilliant fun!
How many times a day do you ride? I normally have around eight horses a day to work, but sometimes I do more or less depending on whether I have any extras to do if our livery owners can’t make it up to the yard to ride. I’ve always said that doing horses is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle and every horse is difference so it keeps me on my toes!
Whose horse would you like to own? I’ve always loved Gemma Green’s Showtime, I saw him at one of the first competitions she took him to, an elementary at Medstead Grange, and fell in love with him there and then.
What would you change about your life? I absolutely love my life and what I am doing but if I had to choose something I would win the lottery so I didn’t have to work quite so hard, but I don’t think there’s much chance of that!
When did you last kick yourself? When I did the Medium Restricted Winter Championship with Wurlizer in 2007 because he changed in the extended canter and it cost us the title. We were second by around four marks and we scored two fours and a six for that movement when we normally got at least sevens. I knew it was completely my fault and I really beat myself up about it, but it taught me an awful lot!
How do you relax? I really enjoy reading as I can switch off and ‘get away’ from the yard.
Who inspires you? Adelinde Cornelisson as I think she has the most amazing seat and has transformed Parzival from an unruly young horse who nobody dared ride into the champion he is today whilst teaching English full time until only a couple of years ago.
What is your greatest achievement to date? Winning ten regional finals with Headmore Delegate as he is home bred and has solely been produced by me and I think that ten is some kind of record!
What is your top tip for the H&C website visitors? Always strive for perfection and never settle for anything less.
Who would you like us to spend Ten Minutes in the Tack Room with? Email [email protected]