This week’s trainer in the spotlight is dressage rider Natalie Hobday. Her competitive career includes winning in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and many places in Prix St George and Intermediare 1 at German National Shows.


Natalie has four siblings – Justin, Kerry, Candice and Giles – and comes from a sporting family including two professional golfers (brother Justin and uncle Simon). Giles and her father Jonathan are scratch golfers, and Kerry a six handicap. Candice and Kerry are also involved in the horse industry in the form of a successful international bloodstock transport company and an equine insurance company, with Candice also being a successful Grand Prix rider.

An interesting family fact is that Natalie’s great grandfather, Sir Frederick Hobday, invented the wind operation “Hobday operation”. It was for this which he received his Knighthood. Natalie’s grandmother received an MBE for her services in Africa to veterinary research and her grandfather an OBE for his veterinary services in Africa. Natalie’s Aunt, Dr. Virginia Hobday, received an MBE in 2015 for her services to palliative care.

Natalie was raised in South Africa and developed an interest in horse riding at an early age. She was awarded her first (of nine) Provincial Dressage Colours at the age of 15 and was the youngest sportswoman in South Africa to receive National Colours at the age of 23. She has won all major competitions, including the South African Individual Dressage Championship numerous times as a Junior and Adult on different horses.

A further highlight during her early years was the invitation, as a member of the South African Lipizzaner team, to attend the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, where she trained for several months.

In 1997 Natalie moved to Germany to further her international career and trained with the current German National Coach Jonny Hilberath. Her competitive career includes winning in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and many places in Prix St George and Intermediare 1 at German National Shows. During her time in Germany, Natalie backed and produced young horses as well as successfully producing and competing numerous horses up to Grand Prix.

Natalie has competed and placed successfully at major international shows on various horses, including two World Equestrian Games.

Alongside her sporting career, Natalie leads clinics in Germany, UK, South Africa and United Arab Emirates. Her students include all age groups from children to adults, ranging from serious amateur riders to professionals as well as team riders on a regional, national and international level.

In January 2015 Natalie was appointed as South Africa’s first National Dressage Team Coach and received her National Colours for the second time in August 2015, this time for her role as National Coach. In January 2016 Natalie was appointed by the FEI as a Technical Expert to deliver a Coach Education Programme to Group Nine countries.

Natalie’s graduated with Honours in Clinical Psychology, earned a Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology and then studied Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Coaching and Stress Management. Her primary motivation to further her academic education was to improve her knowledge and skills as a competitor and international coach. Her dissertation, completed in 2011 was titled “Psychological Skills use and Challenge and Threat States in Elite Equestrian Dressage Riders”, a field for which there was, and still is, very scant research, especially for the discipline of dressage.

She engaged closely with the Dutch, German and English federation to gain access to all the squad riders including, Young Riders, and Adults with “A” and “B” squad status – a total of 85 participants – with all 3 nation’s Olympic Squad Riders included.

The study tested the Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes (TCTSA; Jones, Meijen, McCarthy & Sheffield, 2009) and examined psychological skills use in elite equestrian dressage riders from the three current leading nations in the discipline of dressage: Germany, The Netherlands and Great Britain. The participants completed a detailed survey, which measured self-efficacy, perceived control, goal orientation, emotions experienced, and psychological skills use prior to important competitions. There were significant findings. This dissertation was awarded a distinction.

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Natalie Hobday on Wenckstern