Toby Pigott is the latest addition to Team SPILLERS. Described by Brazilian Olympian Ruy Fonseca in his Event Rider Masters debut at Barbury Castle as a stylish young rider who is quick and efficient across the country. At 26 years old, he has been successful up to CIC3*, has ridden in The Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge at Hickstead and placed 11th in his Event Rider Masters debut. Toby is definitely a rider to keep an eye on in the future so we decided to ask him to SPILL the Beans so we could find out a little more about him…
- How did you get in to eventing?
My sister, Emily, and I both started out riding ponies. As a family, we have always had close links to Eventing as my father was Chairmen of the Medical Equestrian Association and would volunteer as a Doctor at BE events. He was a regular working at Gatcombe Festival of Eventing. Living in Wiltshire we would also go to Badminton every year. When I was 14, I won my first ever BE90 at West Wilts and, for a moment, I thought Eventing was easy!
- What is your favourite phase in eventing and why?
It has to be Cross Country – it’s the most exciting and fun and it’s often the most influential phase particularly with a horse like Golden Forever.
- What is your least favourite phase and what are you doing to try and improve?
Definitely dressage! Although I work hard at it and I am currently having lots of lessons with my trainer, Adam Kemp. I’m also very lucky to be based at Rabson Manor where I can work in grass arenas throughout the summer so that the horses are all used to working on the varying terrain.
- What’s been your career highlight to date?
There have been so many great moments it’s hard to choose. If I really had to choose, it would be between finishing 3rd on Diamond Cove in my first Advanced at Aston-Le-Walls in 2017, winning both Intermediate sections at Nunney this year and my Event Rider Masters debut at Barbury Castle. I am very fortunate that there have been more and more new opportunities as I have moved up the levels and so I hope the highlights keep on coming!
- Do you have a favourite horse?
No, it’s more favourites for certain phases. Freestyle R is very smart in the dressage whilst Golden Forever excels at his jumping and speed across country but then there is Royal Diamond who is probably the most consistent all round and Lance A Little, who has just turned 7 years old, is a young and exciting prospect who doesn’t seem to have a weak phase.
- What do you think makes a great eventer?
Heart. A horse with “heart” is a horse that will keep working even when — or especially when — the going gets tough. They never give up and will go to extraordinary lengths to please you.
- Which is your favourite event and why?
It has to be Barbury, Wiltshire. It’s my local event, it has a nice course which is easy to view for spectators and owners and, being just 10 minutes from home, I can take the horses home and turn them out in their normal routine throughout the competition.
- What’s been your most embarrassing moment during your career?
There are so many to choose from! In my pony club days I took two horses to a One Day Event, I was sure that having two would mean a guaranteed win! The first horse stopped at the water and was eliminated. I was so determined with my next horse that I overrode the water and he jumped in too big, lost his footing on landing and we both disappeared under the water! It was so early in my career that I hadn’t learnt to bring a change of clothes and it was a long journey home wet from head to toe.
Something that you have to accept as a rider is that some days won’t go to plan, especially when stepping up a level on an inexperienced horse.
- What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
It’s important to go between the Flags – Astier Nicolas.
What he meant by this is that it is a long way round Cross Country and a lot can happen, like when the attachment between my breastplate and stud girth broke at Fence 5 in the ERM3* at Barbury Castle which caused Golden Forever to bank an arrow head however, as we went through the flags we jumped clear!
- Do you have an eventing idol?
Andrew Nicholson – he rides a lot of different types of horses very well and, having watched him as I was growing up, he has consistently been at the top of the sport for such a long time.
- What are your ambitions for the future?
My aim is always to have a good string of horses moving up the levels and, of course, their supportive owners. If I can achieve that then the rest will fall into place. Obviously, I would love to ride at Badminton and hopefully that will come true with one of my current rides.
- What would you be doing if you were not an event rider?
I think I would have joined the British Army, possibly a Mounted Regiment.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What do you like doing in your spare time?
What spare time? I have been running my own yard, with the support of my family, for 5 years now and it’s a job that is 7 days a week. However, my ideal day off is a day at the races with friends, especially if it’s during Cheltenham Festival!