15 minutes with… Nana Dalton

Nana Dalton (35) is an event rider based in Haslemere on the Surrey/Sussex border. Formerly Susanna Barker, she represented Great Britain at the 1999 Young Rider European Championships in Necarne, winning team silver on Romany Tinca.

She is married to Adam Dalton and the couple now has an almost two-year-old son, Toby. This season Nana is back in the big time with five three-star horses and two of them, Absolut Opposition and Romany Piper, will hopefully complete a four-star. She’s also preparing for her Badminton debut on 10-year-old Absolut Opposition owned in partnership with Rosie Glaister and Catherine Coventry.

When did Susanna Barker become Nana Dalton?

When I got married in 2010. I was always known as Nana – it was a nickname that stuck – although on my eventing records I was Susanna.

Are you still friends with your former Young Rider team mates?

It is amazing that all of us, Tor Brewer, Nickie Roncoroni and Tom Crisp are all still eventing and we are all good friends. Tor Brewer is my very best and special friend who I speak to everyday and all because of meeting her through Young Riders.

Why will riding at Badminton be special?

Firstly because it will be my first Badminton which has always been a dream, but also because I will be riding Absolut Opposition (Miley) who has been in my care since a two-year-old. We have gone every step of the way together and he is a huge part of my life. However me and his co-owners have been around horses long enough to know it won’t happen till it happens and even if, for whatever reason, Badminton doesn’t happen this year he is still relatively young (10) for four-star and will get there another time.

Who bred him?

He was bred by my friend Rosie Glaister (nee Gunn) and is by Fleetwater Opposition out of Ruffo’s Star another mare I rode. She was by Ruffo who was also the sire of Riva Ruel who my sister (Patricia Price) rode to complete Badminton in 2005.

How did Miley get his stable-name?

Because his legs are so long and go on for miles.

What is special about Miley?

He is a huge character and I trust him implicitly. We have enjoyed a special journey together.

Which is your favourite event?

I absolutely loved Hopetoun when I competed there in 2012. It was my first three-star, there was a big screen for the Olympics and the atmosphere was amazing.

Which riders do you admire?

Tina Cook because she is so level-headed and approachable. When Miley was a challenging five-year-old and I needed help she was the one I rang. She is very hard-working, successfully juggles work and motherhood and gets on and makes the best of what she has. She is modest, most certainly not a diva, very real and practical.

I also admire Christopher Burton who is currently helping me. He is very professional and yet accommodating. As I have a young son he will work around me and is incredibly generous and flexible with his time.

What is a perfect day for you?

Most days are structured and routine to accommodate the horses in the morning and my son and family in the afternoon. A perfect day would include hunting with either the Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds or the Mid-Surrey Drag Hounds on my pony Romany Sayla. She is out of Romany Tinca with who I won a young rider medal and also by Fleetwater Opposition. She only grew to 14.1hh and I was going to produce her to sell as an FEI pony but I grew too fond of her. She is the smallest I have ever ridden although she rides like a horse and is the perfect ride out hunting.

How do you spend a day away from horses?

Quite happily. I was brought up on cricket and love going to Lords, or either to Twickenham for the rugby.

What are your strengths?

Producing young horses and respecting and understanding them as individuals and characters and working on their strengths.

And your weaknesses?

Showjumping, cake and anything naughty.


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