The Olympics is not only about the athletes and their horses
"Whatever happens now in Rio it will still be a fairytale for me," said Jane de la Mare, co owner with Carl Hester and Nip Tick, better known as Barney. "The journey so far has been amazing, and I am very lucky to do this my friend Carl who is kind, generous and funny." We now know what happened on the magical trip to Rio, where Great Britain won Gold, Barney's travel and stablemate Blueberry (AKA Valegro) won Individual Gold, and Jane de la Mare's feisty foal earned personal best. Now they are all back in England hacking the trails, and hanging out.
When Jane de la Mare posted this photo and text July 6 "Just a normal hacking day for me and Barney. Wait a minute, the bloody horse and Carl have been selected to go to Rio!! Now who's even more nervous than ever? Can't quite believe it, don't want to say too much, jump up & down or cry as I don't want to jinx the fairy story."
Charlotte Mogensen of horse2rider.com caught up with co-owner (along with none other than Carle Hester himself) Jane de la Mare of the British top horse Nip Tuck, AKA Barney, for a chat about how it all began leading up to now being on her way to Rio with one of the very valuable accreditations as an owner.
"I first met Carl in 1992 when I went to work as a groom for Dr. Bechtolsheimer. Whilst growing up in Jersey, Channel Islands I'd had a pony and was horse mad. When I left school I worked in a showing yard and then went backpacking around the world. At 21 I arrived at Dr B's as the dressage bug had bitten me. With Carl being from Sark and me from Jersey we had a Channel Island connection and became firm friends. I loved my time at Dr B's but after 18 months I returned back to Jersey to work with horses and teach dressage.
In fact I taught Gemma Green on her ponies before introducing her to Carl who then steered her to great success in ponies and horses. After a couple of years I realized I wasn't a good or brave enough rider to make it a career, so I did some secretarial training/exams and became a PA. I still rode and taught in my spare time. Carl and I remained friends as he would come to Jersey for clinics and stay with me.
In 1999 I split up with a boyfriend and was pretty miserable. Carl called me up and told me to leave Jersey and come and be his lodger and make a new start in England which is what I did! I lived with Carl (and Spencer) for a couple of years whilst being a secretary in several jobs. I did spend every minute I could at Carl's yard and used to hack Escapado!
In 2002 I got a fantastic job as a traveling PA earning great money, which enabled me to buy my own home about 15 minutes from Carl.
I remember in 2004/5 saying to Carl that I would love to go halves with him on a young horse as I missed horses now that I was away so much for my job (USA/ Caribbean/Europe).
Carl bought 5 yearlings and pointed to one and said I was to have that one! I do remember him saying a few weeks later "I've sold that one so you're having to have this one now". He never told me at the time but I think that's when he mixed up the passports and sold the wrong one which meant we ended up with Barney!
Barney lived with the other youngsters at Carl's so visited him often. Getting trampled by young horses in a field is never much fun! Barney was broken in at a yard a couple of miles away by a couple who are wonderful horse people, so he had a great start with Greg Smith being the crash test dummy.
He went there when he was 4 as he was so big and I don't think Carl was in a hurry to get him started. He was terrified of rugs and nervous of most things on the yard but was very sweet natured in the stable. As soon as he moved back to Carl's I would go as often as I could (I'm away 2 weeks every month) and groom, tack him up and finish him off (I still do nowadays).
Barney was never bought for me to ride and having seen some of his exploits as a young horse I was never brave or good enough to ride him but I love being around him and hope that he feels the same about me, and not just because I give him carrots!
Up until the age of 10 Carl would train him at home and his stable rider Katie Bailey would compete him. I would bath and plait Barney and drive him and Katie in a little lorry to the shows. I loved those days as Carl had no expectations, he just wanted him to get out and see the world.
It's only now when I hear Carl talk about Barney's early years that I realize how hot and tricky Barney was. Carl never let on to me so I was oblivious to it all, although I could see that he was a nervous, hot horse.
When Barney was 9 I plucked up the courage to start hacking him. I hadn't ridden for a couple of years, so I think everyone was terrified it would be a disaster, but Alan (Valegro and Barney´s groom) took me out on a quiet one and Barney was great. We have had a few scary moments as he can be spooky on the roads, but everyone says Barney looks after me and is much worse with anyone else! If I am at home I will hack him twice a week.
I have to say after the Rio selection was announced I was a little nervous to hack him, but took a deep breath and had a lovely ride!
New email address in 2012 called Barney2016
In 2012 I applied for dressage tickets for the Olympics and had to use a new email address - I chose Barney2016. At that point Barney was 8 and hadn't done a Prix St. Georg, let alone a Grand Prix. Carl had always said to me Barney would be nothing but a grand prix horse, so his faith and belief made me believe and secretly hope it would happen!
He did his first Grand Prix at a local indoor show in April 2014. I was more nervous that he wouldn't go inside than what marks he would actually get. Carl hadn't ridden him at a show since he was 5, so he had no idea what he would do either! I think Carl was shocked at how well he went and that he had enjoyed riding him. Carl had talked previously about selling him as he didn't think he would be good enough for him, I just kept pretending I hadn't heard him! Even though we are 50/50 owners Carl always makes the decisions!
Emotional When thinking of Barney at WEG in Caen
They did a couple more shows before being picked for WEG. It was an exciting and terrifying whirlwind, but Barney just kept getting better and more confident.
I still get emotional when I think of him at WEG. I have never shaken so much in my life during his test. Alan held my hand through it all and I burst into tears when he'd finished.
It took me about 6 months afterwards to be able talk about it without crying! I get teased now all the time about crying at shows and Carl hates it but I'm so proud of Barney, not just because of his successes but because he is so honest and tries so hard. I do get fed up when people criticize him because of his shape, size and movement as I think forget the negatives, there are plenty of positives - look what he's achieved!
How many horses have done that?! He absolutely loves and trusts Carl so much which makes me happy too!
I only ever want Carl to come out of the arena and be happy with Barney, and I only ever want Barney to have a good experience. So far that keeps happening!
When Barney retires (whenever that is) he is definitely coming home to me to live out the rest of his days."