The Climax of the National Championships
We had the climax of our national show season last week, our National Championships at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. I had qualified three horses; Wiz (Wurlizer) at Grand Prix, Del (Headmore Delegate) at PSG and Inter I and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) at Medium Open.
We arrived on Wednesday with plenty of time to settle the horses in before I had to ride Del as he was competing on the Thursday. Mum was redundant as we had two grooms with us, Amy, my best friend, and Tor, so we were very organised! Del went very well on the Wednesday so I was feeling confident, and we had a rather leisurely build up as I wasn’t in the arena until 4:15pm on Thursday.
I had ridden all three horses in the morning, and I was pleased with how they had all gone and was feeling confident with Del. However, unfortunately we didn’t get his warm up quite right for the PSG and he was a little bit tight as we went in the ring. There were no major mistakes in the test but it didn’t flow as well as we are capable of. We still scored a respectable 65.7% to finish 12th in a big class.The foreign judge who was judging awarded us over 68% and had us in 4th, so it wasn’t dreadful, just a bit disappointing as I know we could have done much better.
Friday morning was also very leisurely as Del and I weren’t competing until about 5:30pm, so it was another very easy, laid back day. I rode all three horses again in the morning and Wiz and Bracks felt ready for their tests on Saturday. We also decided to compete Del in a snaffle bridle in the Inter I as he was softer and more settled than in the double and we thought I would be able to ride him more and ask for a bit more power and expression. We were very pleased with his Inter I test; it was much better than the PSG. There were just a few green mistakes, but he was the youngest horse in the class. We still scored 67.7% to finish 7th, but we were only 1% behind 2nd place, so without the mistakes we could have been much higher. Hopefully next year when he is a bit more established!
Having had a very easy first couple of days at the Nationals, Saturday was a bit of a shock to the system as Bracks was in at 8:48am and Wiz at 10:43am, so it was all systems go on Saturday morning! Having finished 7th on Friday, Del was also in the Inter I Freestyle on Saturday afternoon, so we had to be a bit more organised than on the previous days! Bracks was very electric to ride on Saturday and was quite tense and rather over excitable, which led to a rather interesting test to ride! It was very definitely not nearly our best, but she is still young and just now needs to go out and do a few more big parties like that so she gets used to the atmosphere, but in a few years time I will be needing that expression and energy!
It was then a quick turnaround to get Wiz ready for his test and as Amy and I were walking down to the warm up Amy said “I can’t believe it’s only 10 o’clock and we are already on test number 2!!!” That just about summed it up! Wiz was not at his most cooperative but with Erik’s (Theilgaard, my trainer) help, I managed to get him ready for our test. Wiz was super, he just almost tried too hard as we had a few mistakes where he was trying to trot too big. Overall we were very pleased with it as we are both still new to the level and we did all the hard bits, it was just the simple bits where we had mistakes! It was a very good outing for us and the piaffe and passage is definitely much more established, hopefully next year we can aim to be competitive at that level!
This just left Del in the Inter I Freestyle on Saturday afternoon. He warmed up fairly well but there was a lot of atmosphere as it was a sell out crowd and there was quite a lot going on as we warmed up. As a result he was a little bit tense and so the trot work and walk in the test was not as good as it could have been. However, overall I was very pleased with him as he did settle down and the canter work was some of the best that I had had all week. We finished on 67.5%, but the foreign judge awarded us over 70% and had us in 4th place, so overall we were pleased. Consistently over the course of the week the foreign judges awarded me higher marks, so we can’t wait to get abroad next year!
Although it wasn’t the best Nationals I have had in terms of results, we had brilliant fun and I and all of the horses learnt a lot so next year will hopefully be more fruitful and all three horses are now having a well earned holiday before we start the winters training.
Riding has been in our family for generations. With my mum, Sarah, competing at HOYS and RIHS it was only natural that, as soon as I could walk, I'd end up in the saddle!
As I was growing up I joined the Hampshire Hun
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