Exclusive Q&A with top pony rider Izzy Lickley

There will be lots of people watching talented pony rider Izzy Lickley this season, we are delighted that despite a busy schedule Izzy found some time to tell us a little bit more about her journey so far and ambitions for 2020.

What was your favourite moment/highlight of 2019?

I think my highlight for 2019 was, of course, competing at the Europeans in Poland. It was my first international season on Mister Snowman and his first Europeans – nice to have been able to take him to Europeans for the first time myself. We had such a great season and to finish 10th in the Kur was a highlight for me along with the amazing experience we had this year with the team. It was so much fun, especially our smoke grenades at the opening ceremony! To be the first person to take 3 different ponies to European championship level really felt like a great achievement from those early days being bounced around the arena by Gigolo!

Smoke bombs at the Europeans.

Early days with Gigolo!

What are your goals for 2020?

2020 is my last pony season and along with GCSE exams and a very early Europeans it has limited our early international season. I hope to finish qualifying Snowman for the Euros shortly and then just concentrate on perfecting the tests as much as I can so we have a real chance of a higher place in Poland. My music needs some tweaks so we will be working on that too. I had a great start to the year in Le Mans with a 6th, 1st and 3rd and two personal best scores. The German riders are always the ones to beat so it was great to hear the British national anthem for a change!

What is Mister Snowman’s personality like and what is he like to ride?

Snowy has just the most amazing personality. He just loves humans and is always in your pockets! He is so simple to take away to shows. Nothing is ever a problem and he is happy going along with anything you want to do. He never even moves when we travel so that means we all arrive at the show ready to go! Riding wise he is sensitive and always tries his hardest. He is really light on the aids and off my leg so it is never a case of working harder than he does which is the best way to be. Once he trusts you he will do anything. The funniest thing is that he won’t walk up the ramp of the lorry. If you try to make him he just stands at the bottom and won’t move. He has to have a short run up and then 2 or 3 bounces and he is on. He is hilarious, especially when he tries to share his lunch with you by getting it all over his face and then rubbing it down your clean jacket.

Snowy enjoying a cuddle at the Europeans.

What is your favourite movement from the Pony FEI tests?

You have to learn to love the double marks. The test is so unforgiving that you just can’t make any mistakes – and an extra 0.5 in a double movement like the simple changes or the half pass can make the difference between 1st and 5th.

How do you balance GSCEs and school work with international competitions?

The simple answer is by working long hours! Our day starts at 6:30am and finishes on the yard with me riding after school at 5pm. Then homework and revision. I took the decision to retire my other pony Sunshine to stud this year so I could get some foals from her before she was too old – and to spend 100% of my time on Snowman. I have learnt to make the most of the travel and down time at shows and fortunately my current school is very supportive of my riding and allow me to go home at games times so I can ride and catch up on school work.

Now you have a pony foal Savoir Faire and will hopefully have some foals from Sunny – what are your plans for these ponies?

We have such a shortage of good ponies in the UK right now. It doesn’t appear to be something that is going to change anytime soon – so I decided that I would set up a breeding and production programme. Ultimately I want to be at the point of having a handful of ponies at FEI level so British riders have a real chance of winning medals again. I can’t tell you what an amazing process the whole journey has been and it makes me sad that more people are not having the chance to grow as riders and people – competing at the highest level and making friends from around Europe. We bought Savoir Faire to breed from because she will be quite small – and with the new FEI height rules quite strict it is going to be important to keep the ponies under 148cms!

Sunny at the Europeans.

Who is your favourite rider or a rider that you really look up to and why?

I don’t really have a favourite rider to follow – I look up to so many people for lots of reasons. Charlotte Fry is a big inspiration as she has worked so hard to get to the point where she is competing and beating the worlds very best. She started on ponies and made the transition to top professional. She gave up her time to video chat with us before the Europeans last year and was full of so much useful advice. We have spent quite a lot of time at Van Olst and I can tell you she never ever stops working and riding. She just wants to be the best and is prepared to put the work in to get there.

If you could have one ride on any horse in the world (still competing or retired) who would you want to ride?

I wish that my mums old horse Dexter was still alive. He was the world cup ride of Anne Van Olst before he came to us. I rode him when I was just starting and he was so amazing. My legs didn’t go past the saddle flaps but he still managed a piaffe – I used to tack him up and he would put his head down for me – he was massive but so kind. It would have been great to have the chance to compete him. Of the current top horses I would love to ride Glamourdale. I have been able to follow his progress right from the stallion show as a 3 year old and I think he is the most exciting horse around apart from Snowman of course!