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Owner in Profile: Shearwater Insurance


Leslie Law AthensMy Olympic Experience; Jeremy Lawton

Jeremy Lawton, Managing Director of Shearwater Insurance Services refl

ects on being not just an event horse owner, but the owner of two Olympic medal winning grey geldings who were full brothers; Shear H2O ‘Solo' who was part of the silver medal winning British team in Sydney and Shear L'eau, winner of eventual individual gold and team silver from Athens.

Sydney memories

As owners, we went to Sydney with no expectations at all, I was completely out of my knowledge level to be honest, I had no idea of the format or how things really worked so everything was new.

We had known what it was like to go to competitions such as Burghley and Badminton but were so overwhelmed at Solo and Leslie being selected for the Olympics we never really got out of the ‘this is so surreal' stage, it was completely new territory. I tried to just play a supporting role to Leslie, to listen to everything he and Yogi said, and hopefully become a bit wiser about this level of competition but generally I was just overawed to be at our first Olympics!

A sport loving host Nation
I found the whole thing a totally superb experience; the country and culture of Australia is inherently sporty so the atmosphere was fantastic plus you were free to drive in an out of the venue, it was all very relaxed and enjoyable.

Jeremy LawtonTeam spirit
Chef d'equipe Yogi Breisner did an absolutely fantastic job of making us feel part of the Olympic experience as owners, inviting us for team meetings and making us feel at ease – that was until I walked the cross country course and saw the combination at the water, ironically considering his name means water!

Cross country nerves
Once I had walked the course the first time and seen that water, the stress levels rocketed, I smoked in those days and definitely smoked more than ever there. By the time cross country day arrived my wife had found the grooms tent which was perfect for watching my horse, I don't like people to watch me watching my horses as I can look a bit of an idiot, so watching it there in a small group was perfect.

I had nothing to fear, Leslie and Solo went clear across country, inside the time, and it began to really feel like a medal, a team medal in fact was in sight for us even though Leslie, Jeanette (Brakewell) and Pippa (Funnell, then Nolan) were all first timers, they had all pulled out excellent performances. The team, which also included Sir Ian Stark took team silver for Britain; it was a wonderful experience and one I love to recount.

The Athens Experience

How lucky we were to have another wonderful horse in Shear L'eau and then yet more good fortune to be selected for Athens. But it was a completely different experience from Sydney for many reasons.

The venue was very different to Sydney; everything was restricted, from travelling between venues (you had to get on a coach to get anywhere) down to how long you were allowed at the venue.

We fondly referred to our accommodation as the Big Brother House; we were with the Lincolns (owners of Pippa Funnell's ride, Primmore's Pride) as well as Pippa's parents and various other people who stopped in for short periods including at one point a 5Live commentator!

medalsDigging Deep
The mood in the ‘BB house' after cross country became very depressed when it was discovered that Tamarilllo had a bone chip and that we could well be pushed out of team medal contention. But I remember saying to the gang that ‘we have been here before, we can pull this back' (referring to a similar situation in Jerez) and was positive we could claw back a team medal.

Though if you had told me that it would actually happen, I would never have believed you. We weren't feeling that lucky as Shear L'eau literally climbed over the second boat, a heart in mouth moment but still we lay in 10th place after cross country individually.

Then the next day were faced with the fact that he quite reliably liked to have planks down, they were his favourite in fact. Then everyone in the team competition was having the ‘bogey' set of planks down, we thought that was it, he would too. He gave them a good whack but somehow the fence stayed up, ending as one of only two double clears.

Medal controversy
It was a year of highs and lows for everyone and to be frank no one really seemed to know what was going on, it was as exciting a games in every way that you could expect but we came home with team silver, and Leslie with a well-earned silver which then later turned to gold following the overturning of the German's appeal for Bettina Hoy's unfortunate error in the show jumping phase.

Team GB Athens OlympicsRetirement
Shear L'eau is with Leslie in California enjoying a sun-drenched retirement – read about him here. Shear H2O died in his sleep aged 21 in 2014 having been retired at 15, he had enjoyed a wonderful retirement with Claire Llewellyn. He owed us nothing, he was a very hardy horse who always tried hard and had a habit of bouncing back from any illness or injury; we were so very lucky to have had him.

Shearwater – generous supporters of Eventing

This year sees an exciting new addition for the eventing world – the Shearwater Insurance Tri-star Grand Slam; find out more online.

Those heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials will see Jeremy in person as he will be presenting the Shearwater silver salver to the highest placed EHOA members in the prize giving line-up at the BE90 and BE100 Mitsubishi Motors Cup competitions on Wednesday 4th May in front of the spectacular back drop of Badminton House.

Useful Links
Find out how to become an EHOA Member http://www.ehoa.org/

Read more about Shearwater Insurance https://www.shearwater-insurance.co.uk/equestrian 

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View all British Olympic medal wins here.