Gearing up for his seventh CCI4* – Tom McEwen – 30 Under 30

Tom and Toledo De Kerser (owned by Jane and Frank Innes) - 2nd place at the 2014 Le Lion d'Angers CCI2*

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The achievements for Tom McEwen (GBR) began at the European Pony Championships with an FEI team gold medal and have not stopped. Winner of The Goldman Cup; winner of the Bramham U25 Championship CCI3*; the highest placed rookie at his Badminton debut in 2011 and the list goes on.

The son of an equine veterinarian and a professional show jumper, Tom is keeping with the family tradition and is making a career in the horse business. He rides, produces, and sells horses to keep his operation going. At the age of 24, he will be competing at his seventh four-star in 2015 and is indeed one of the world’s Top 30 Under 30.

Production line
He says, “I have always produced my own horses. I never had the money or the backing to go out and buy them ready-made. Always starting with young horses I produce them and sell them at some point to keep the whole thing ticking over and running like a business so to speak. When mum was running it and now that I am running it, it has always been the same.”

Badgerstown
The family has always rented a yard, rather than owning. In fact, Tom was renting boxes at Badgerstown before Sir Mark Todd purchased the facility two years ago. “Mark let us stay when he took over the place. It has worked out fantastic,” explains Tom.

Along with Ludwig Svennerstal, Tom gets to ride and hang out with Mark on a regular basis. Tom has a true appreciation for the opportunity, “He is the most legendary of all times really. Being around someone that incredibly talented and so great with the horses everyday…a little bit rubs off on you. He is always there to answer questions. Between me and Ludwig we are probably the luckiest people in Britain having Mark here full time. He will answer the most simple questions when you are stuck on something and he keeps an eye over you when you are riding in the school. With Mark, in your lessons just one word or sentence he says will just stick with you and it is really brilliant that you can focus on it.”

Mark enjoys having Tom and Ludwig and says, “The three of us all have our own barns or stable yards but share the facilities and it works very well as we never seem to be on top of each other and we can help one another out.”

Success came early
Before the influence of Mark, Tom worked with Alex Franklin (Dressage) and Rodney Powell (Badminton Champion 1991) and was already racking up a list of achievements:

  • 2007 team gold, European Championships for Ponies
  • 2010 team gold, European Young Rider Championships
  • 2010 The Goldman Cup (Under 21 rider with the most BE points)
  • 2011 team gold, European Young Rider Championships
  • 2011 HSBC Training Bursary for the best CCI4* debut at Burghley
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Tom and Diesel tackling the ‘Vicarage Vee’ at Badminton..

Currently in production:
In the last two years, his achievements are even more impressive:

 Diesel (owned by Tom): 4*

  • 31st – 2014 Badminton
  • 1st – 2013 Bramham U25 Championship CCI3*
  • 15th – 2012 Blenheim CCI3*

Dry Old Party (owned by Tom): 4*

  • 11th – 2013 Pau
  • 19th – 2013 Badminton
  • 19th – 2011 Burghley

Rehy USA (owned by John Burt and Tom): 2*

  • 2nd – 2014 Tattersalls CCI2*

Staff Des Champs (owned by David and Jane Hamilton): 2*

  • 9th – 2014 Barbury Castle CIC2*

Toledo De Kerser (owned by Jane and Frank Innes): 2*

  • 2nd – 2014 Le Lion Championship CCI2*

Tom has around ten horses in his program and is expecting that to increase to 12 or 14 for the competition season next year. Many of them are on a bit of a holiday as the season is over in Britain. Now he has some time to spend on the three and four year olds and train and show them. He lives in an area where he competes them at schooling shows to prepare them for the British Eventing season that begins in March.

Currently, Tom and his mom own some of the horses and this is the group that he usually buys, produces, and sells. The majority of his horses have owners.

One of his most promising horses is Toledo De Kerser, owned by Jane and Frank Innes. This horse placed second at the CCI2* at Le Lion d’Angers. It was bought about three years ago out of France as a four-year-old. Tom says, “He came over and no one wanted to ride him because he was too difficult. Previously, I had ridden another horse for the owners to sell it. So they gave me a go on it primarily to sell him, and now we have realized he is a fantastic little horse so we are going to keep him.”

This horse is an exceptional show jumper and in two years has not had a rail down. Tom is feeling like he could be a four-star horse. “I have developed a real bond with him, he is fantastic on cross-country and he has the best competition brain even though he is a bit difficult to train at home. He is going to do another two-star next spring to cement things because he is quirky. After that, we will look at doing some advanced and three-stars. If he feels ready to do a CCI3* he will do one and if he is not ready then that is okay. I do think he will be ready at the end of next year.”

One of Tom’s biggest goals for 2015 is competing Diesel at Badminton and maybe Burghley. He says, “I am lucky that I am close to Badminton and Burghley and it is easy to do the two of them in one year.”

Physical fitness is important to Tom and here is at a tough mudder competition.

Physical fitness is important to Tom and here he is at a tough mudder competition.

Senior team on the horizon
As a prospect for a senior team, Tom is on The World Class Development Programme, which supports talent identification and developing the talent. Tom says, “It is a fantastic program done through the lottery funding. It is based on training so we have world class trainers that I get help with. Nick Burton gives me lots of help. We have special training sessions with him and Yogi and other brilliant coaches. In addition, there is a good bit of funding that helps you with fuel and other training expenses. We tell them where the money is going and the money goes to our bank account monthly.”

The program also helps the riders off of the horses with physical and nutritional consultations. Tom takes full advantage of this opportunity. He is able to attend an injured jockey centre, Oaksey House, to improve his own physical training. “I work on my core. I have been able to ride a lot better now that I have gotten fitter.”

Tom has proven his ability on the horse and he is working hard on his own physical training. He is poised to represent Great Britain soon. Mark Todd says, “I think that he will definitely get on a British team at some point in the future. With his young horse Toledo, if things stay right it will be sooner rather than later. He has got very good backing behind him with his parents and owners so I am sure good horses will keep coming his way.”

Imagine Mark, Ludwig and Tom all on the podium at Rio…you never know.

To keep up with Tom daily:
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Royal Ascot with Ben Bobday, Tom, Ludwig and Jesse Campbell

Royal Ascot with Ben Hobday, Tom, Ludwig and Jesse Campbell

All photos courtesy of Tom

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