Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Ringside Chat With Leslie Law: Exploring His New Role

Great Britain’s Leslie Law may be best known as the individual gold and team silver medalist in eventing from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, but for the past nine years he’s made his home in the United States, and now he’s exploring a new role in the sport as the U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Developing Rider Coach.

As part of his program for creating a pipeline of riders, U.S. Eventing Chef d’Equipe David O’Connor created the Under 25 and Under 18 training lists to identify and mentor talented youth riders.

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Great Britain’s Leslie Law may be best known as the individual gold and team silver medalist in eventing from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, but for the past nine years he’s made his home in the United States, and now he’s exploring a new role in the sport as the U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Developing Rider Coach.

As part of his program for creating a pipeline of riders, U.S. Eventing Chef d’Equipe David O’Connor created the Under 25 and Under 18 training lists to identify and mentor talented youth riders.

O’Connor initially conducted the training sessions himself, but this year he decided to hire someone to focus solely on listed developing riders, and Law was chosen from seven applicants.

In addition to his Athens medals, Law also represented Great Britain and earned team medals at the 2000 Olympics (Australia), the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games (Spain) and multiple European Championships.

He’s based in Ocala, Fla., with his wife, Canadian eventer Lesley Grant-Law. The couple have a 5-year-old son, Liam, and run a thriving sales and teaching business. Law has continued to compete, racking up wins at three-days and the U.S. Eventing Association American Eventing Championships.

The Chronicle caught up with Law, 49, to chat about his new role and his current lineup of competition horses.

Chronicle: Why did you apply for the job of developing rider coach?

Law: After riding, teaching and helping, it’s really my passion quite honestly. Some people go on to be course designers or officials, but really it’s always been my passion.

As I came up through the grades, I got a lot of help myself. I really appreciate the people who helped me and mentored me and got me to where I got to, so I’m really looking forward to helping that age group.

Hopefully they’re going to be the ones that fill the shoes as the seniors move on in other directions. It’s important to give depth to the team and have the next generation coming through.

How will the job work? How closely will you work with David?

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The job description is for about 30 days a year. We’re starting off now in January by doing a five-day camp out in California, then we’re going to do two four-day camps in Ocala.

From there, we’ll look at doing more training somewhere in mid-summer after the spring three-day events, then probably something else going into the fall season.

[I’ll be available for individual coaching], and anybody who wants help at some of the competitions I’ll be at, I’ll be available for that as well.

I’m going to work very closely with David. It’s obviously very important to have the continuity with what he’s already started.

What are your initial plans for the training sessions?

These first camps will be me getting to know them and them getting to know me as well. As somebody once said to me, riding is not about reinventing the wheel. You can never go wrong if you keep going back and working on the basics. I think that applies to everyone—to myself when I’m working horses, to everybody.

This time of year is a time to go back and look at the basics. Sometimes it gets a little bit missed or hard during the competition season because the competitions become more of the focus. I think that’s a good place to start with everybody this time of year.

What do you think of the overall program David has laid out so far?

I think he has a very clear plan and very clear ideas of what he wants to do and where he wants to go. Personally, I think we’re all going to see the benefit of that in the years to come. Sometimes when change is taking place, it doesn’t always happen as quickly as it can.

The attention to detail that’s going into it, I think there’s not too long a time before we see the benefit of it.

Who were some of your mentors growing up?

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Chris Bartle was quite a big influence on my dressage, and when I was 18 I spent two summers over here as a working student with Ian Silitch with jumpers. He was very much a mentor in those early days and helped me considerably with the jumping.

There have been a lot of people over the years who have contributed to what I’ve done—far too many!

Talk about your business since you’ve been in the United States. Do you still have aspirations to compete at the four-star level?

My business involves doing clinics, students and some sales. Right now I’ve got five really nice competition horses of varying age from 5 to 9. I’m very fortunate that Lesley and I run the business together or else I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I do.

She very much runs the business side of it, which frees me up to do my riding and teaching, and she has her competition horses as well. It works really well.

If the horses I have now will become four-star horses, I’m really looking forward to it.

I think some of them are going to be four-star horses. All my life, most of my top horses I’ve had as 5-year-olds that I’ve brought through the grades. It’s very rewarding, and it’s very enjoyable training them. When they get there, they get there. Then we enjoy it when they get there.

Tell me about the top horses in your barn right now.

Tout De Suite will be turning 8 in the new year, and the idea will be sometime next year to upgrade him to the advanced. He’s a truly wonderful horse who is owned by Beatrice Rey-Herme. He’s got so much potential and quality. He could be a competitive four-star horse.

I’m hoping Fernhilll Whatever will upgrade to advanced as well next year. He’s a good horse in all three phases.

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