An Interview with Sponsored Rider Natalie McGoldrick

Based in Hampshire, Natalie McGoldrick is a vet, event rider – and magical time creator, as she somehow manages to fit full time work in with caring for a number of her own horses – and she even events! She was recently shortlisted for the 3* GB team and finished in 9th place at Gatcombe, being the only amateur rider in the top 10. She evidently worships her ‘Mr Perfect’, Johnnie, who flies XC courses in his sleep – but surely not without the work she put in behind the scenes. Natalie is incredibly committed to her work and her horses, and it’s evident to see from her happy customers and healthy horses. We caught up with her recently to see how the bout of Equine Flu has affected her, and to learn more about her eventing career.

PP: Hi Natalie! It's already been an interesting start to the year, with the equine flu outbreak. How has your workload changed since the news?

NM: I have certainly been doing a few more vaccinations than I normally would! Lots of my clients already had their horses vaccinated, but sensibly decided to give their horses extra boosters in light of the outbreak, whilst others correctly decided to re start retired horses whose vaccinations had lapsed; I advised that any horse in a yard where other horses go out competing or training, needed to be vaccinated. 

PP: How do you believe this outbreak will affect the awareness of horse owners, in regard to their horse's health?

NM: If you can take any positive from a viral outbreak, then the fact that a lot more horses will now have their 'flu' vaccinations done, has to be a good thing. I believe that a vaccination should be on the same page as worming and dentistry; an absolute essential. It was a real eye opener to see that lots of people have actually been out competing for many years at unaffiliated level, with unvaccinated horses. This is all now starting to change, which is great from a welfare point of view. 

PP: Many competition venues have called for strict regulations to ensure that events go ahead, as safely as possible. How has this affected your usual competition schedule?

NM: Not at all! It has been admirable to witness centre managers turn horses away in large numbers, if the rider hasn't been able to produce an up to date vaccination record. It has been shocking as to how many riders thought they could still turn up and compete, with no vaccinations! My horses are obviously all fully vaccinated, so it didn't disrupt my winter show jumping at all, although it did mean persuading my wonderful local small animal vet to quickly give my horses their boosters, as we aren't allowed to vaccinate our own horses! 

PP: Interesting! This should certainly boost herd immunity. Moving on from the flu, could you tell us why, as both a vet and a rider, you think that PolyPads are so useful?

NM: I have used PolyPads for over 20 years now, and love the fact that they provide a comfortable cushioning layer, whilst not moving at all. It is essential that a saddle pad doesn't slip down and put pressure on the spine, and PolyPads always stay put. Not many horses have their own, perfectly made to measure saddle, and often change shape throughout the year even if they do; a PolyPad will gently lift the saddle away from the essential pressure points, such as the withers, spine and shoulder. 

PP: Which is your favourite style of PolyPad to use? 

NM: I love the double thickness dressage squares; I like to use these even on my short, mono flap jumping saddles, as it gives some comfort under the girth straps. 

PP: That’s great to hear; we love how versatile our saddle pads are – and they really suit Johnnie! You’ve had a great start with him this year already - what are your plans for him?

NM: I don't ever really start the season with an exact plan, and having gone clear XC at his first Advanced last season (Little Downham), he really has nothing left to prove now, so I'll aim to have fun, whatever we do! We are currently on the short list for the GB team for the 3* European Championships, so it would obviously be nice to make the team! I am also hoping to have a go at our first 4* in the second half of the season. 

PP: You’re doing fantastically with him – it’s great to see how much compassion you have for him too! One last question for you now – if you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

NM: I'm typing this having just got in from the most perfect sunny day, spent with my wonderful horses and lots of my super clients, so would it be really "un cool" to say exactly where I am now?! Fortunately, I love my job, and spend any spare second with my own horses! Maybe one day I'll realise what I'm missing out on?! 

Best of luck for the rest of the season and for your training, Natalie. If you want to see Natalie’s favourite PolyPad, click here.

You can keep up to date with Natalie on Facebook too - click here to see her Facebook page!