An interview with Emma & Kevin McNab – International Event Riders

September 2, 2020 9:26 am by
Posted in Kevin & Emma McNab, News, Olympics

Absorbine Ambassadors, Emma & Kevin McNab moved to the UK from Australia in 2011 with the sole purpose of competing in UK and European events.

Since then they have developed a team of horses and made an impact on the eventing scene with four horses qualifying for the Olympics in 2020. They now have their sights firmly set on representing Australia in Tokyo 2021.


What did you do at the yard during lockdown?

​We were fortunate as lockdown ran very smoothly for us. We are normally out schooling or competing a couple of times each week, so having to stay at the yard gave us the opportunity to do things that usually get put to the bottom of the list. We did all the odd jobs like, painting the show jumping rails, laser levelling our indoor arena and just generally tidying up around the place.

We decided it was best to reduce the horses’ workload during lockdown until we knew a definite competition start date. The horses were ridden 5 days a week and had the weekend off, I guess you could say we spent our weekends like ‘normal people’! It was really nice for us to be with our little girl, Annabelle, and having this quieter period we spent a lot more family time together.

The horses all felt great coming out of lockdown and starting to compete again, especially our younger horses as we got to put a lot of time and work into them which would normally be trickier with the event calendar being so busy for the older horses.

Despite everything going on around us with Covid-19 the positive was that it was nice to have our schedule a little quieter for a while. However, by the end of lockdown everyone at the yard was definitely ready to get back out competing again.

Did the long “down” time between competitions have any effect on the horses?


​For our young horses it was fantastic as we got to put a lot of time and work into them, so they definitely benefited.  We prefer to give the older 4/5* horses shorter periods of time off and away from competition. They get fit easier and feel better in their bodies when they are kept doing something, so these horses they were kept in light work.


Towards the end of lockdown when we were getting closer to the start-up of competitions, we were lucky that   our Aus Squad Schools began. These are days organised for the Australian High-Performance Team riders to all come together and train. This meant we were able to take the horse out to train and practise in a mock competition environment. We were also lucky when the lockdown restrictions lifted slightly to have weekly help from Sune Hansen who is our fantastic Dressage coach. Before the horses started competing again, we made sure that they had all been cross country schooling, so they were prepared for the start of events.

For the horses that are at 4/5* level it is always disappointing if you miss part of a season as their time at this level is always limited. Hopefully the second half of this year will be a good start to their 2021 season.

Did the long break have an impact on you?


Not really, we are both very active busy people and were still riding the same amount of horses, so our fitness level was good. We also benefited from the Aus Squad School days that simulate a competition environment so by the time were went out eventing again we were competition ready.


What are the new Covid-19 rule competitions like?


​We think the new format is great, its all very well organised and efficient. The only difficulty is with such a large team of horses to compete it’s been trickier with events being so oversubscribed. It means we have to go to a lot more competitions to be able to compete all our horses. The whole team behind these events have done a fantastic job.


As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, have your goals changed?


​Our goals have remained the same and Kevin still has 4 horses which were qualified for Tokyo this year. To bring their qualification back up to date for selection in 2021 they will all have to do a 4*S. Kevin is also aiming to do the 5*L at Pau this Oct on both Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam and Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend. The original plan for these horses this year was to do Kentucky on Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam and Luhmuhlen on Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend.

As the horses have had such a big break from competition, they will do more through winter and have a busy first half of next year to be able to put them forward for selection with the best results possible.