Lydia Heywood & Cool Ridings’

Words byLydia Heywood
Lydia Heywood & Cool Ridings’

Cool Ridings’ is an organisation set up by event rider Lydia Heywood to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds get involved in horse riding, celebrating and supporting diversity in equestrianism. https://www.coolridingsequestrian.com/

Lydia says “Cool Ridings’ continues to raise visibility for diverse talent in the equestrian world whilst creating opportunities for committed riders to affiliate with brands that are driven to stand with us. Our mentorship has provided a relatable and much needed point of contact for motivated riders looking to pursue a competitive equestrian career.”

Q&A session with some of Lydia’s Cool Ridings Members:

What is your favourite Lemieux product/clothing and why?

LeMieux Fleece rugs are so smart and multifunctional, so they come straight to mind! I have the navy blue and adore the new colours that have been released recently.

What has drawn you to Eventing?

There was a transition from show jumping to eventing when I was a teenager which was mainly due to my passion for cross country. As soon as I started BE I was hooked! I have always found big XC tracks enticing and putting the work in with my main coach Lisa White allowed me to improve my scores and rise up the levels, placing top 5 at Intermediate on my self-produced horse Billy. Training hard & consistency really pays off in this sport which is what I like so much about Eventing. 

What is the biggest sacrifice you have had to make in order to become as successful as you have?

Socially sacrifices though secondary school were made because a good night’s sleep before a competition is a must! I must also mention the sacrifices that my Mum made in order to keep the dream alive and have enough funds for a competitive equestrian lifestyle because Claire Heywood made it happen and I'm eternally grateful. 

Best piece of advice?

Be resilient, remain positive and try to help others. 

If you could collaborate with LeMieux on a new product, what would it be? 

I am meticulous about keeping my show breeches clean and I have been struggling to find suitable equestrian joggers... however LeMieux has just released the stunning Ladies Elite Jogger in black. I do have a real eye for trainers and was an avid Nike collector! I would love to bring my expertise to the table!

How do you manage your time between work, horses and personal time? 

Balancing horses with life can be a challenge that I'm sure lots of people experience too! The help I have from Phoebe Locke and her team is so valuable to me and I have enormous peace of mind that my horses are happy whilst I'm working. I discovered early on that it's important to keep money coming in when you own horses and I am in my 6th year working for A Plan Insurance who have always celebrated and supported my riding, even more so now that I am their Equine Development Executive. 

What are your top 3 training tips for producing young horses?

Easy does it- no need to hurry the process Simplicity & comfort is key- be sure to give the horse clarity and praise. Comfortable tack is also important, I recommend LeMieux sheepskin girth covers. Focus on the foundations- I find long reining correctly will create confidence in the early stages and beyond 

What’s your favourite LeMieux colour? 

Ink Blue is definitely my favourite because it suits every horse I've tried it on. Also, it was the first Cool Ridings x Le Mieux saddle pad colour selected in 2020 for Members to represent Cool Ridings across the country.

Representation is something that still needs improving in the equestrian media but over the years has begun to improve. How do you think LeMieux as a brand are doing in terms of representation? And is there anything you’d like to see them do in the future? 

I would agree that progress is being made in the media and I have enjoyed being introduced to equestrians from all around the world via LeMieux's Instagram stories which is something that always excites me. It has been empowering for myself and Cool Ridings Members to feel part of the team, celebrating our alignment will send out a message that everyone belongs in equestrian sport which I believe is essential for the future. 

What are some of your goals for this year? For yourself or cool ridings?

Cool Ridings Members have their own show calendars which we will celebrate and support; looking to the future it is the distribution of opportunities to participate in photoshoots, clinics, articles, TV shows and more that will create well rounded athletes and I believe that is the key to realising podium potential. I am looking to continue refining my skills eventing and get back riding at International level whether that be on my 7 year olds or a new addition to the team as I'm always keen to discuss taking on new rides.

Do you enjoy getting to work with LeMieux?

Yes it’s the opportunity of a lifetime! Along with the support I’ve previously mentioned, LeMieux recently contributed to a Caribbean Care Package that Cool Ridings will soon send to Jamaica! I’m very grateful for their generosity and know that we can continue to make a positive impact together. 

What’s your most used LeMieux product?

Well I was riding in ProShell Brushing Boots everyday but I've begun using bandages for flatwork and I'd like to start growing my collection of colours because I think they provide the ultimate comfort. LeMieux also have a thoughtfully design saddle pad for every activity so I will always be seen in their pads; my competition ones were embroidered with my Jamaican logo which is so special to me.