Daisy Bunn brings you all the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"What. A. Day.
While it may have been a case of history repeating itself, one really doesn’t mind that at all when it’s because yet again we had a stunning day of world class sport, a thrilling grand prix with a storming jump off, crowds as far as the eye could see, and a truly glorious British Summer’s Day!
So she did it again, not content with galloping into the history books last year as the first ever lady winner of our prestigious King George V Gold Cup, Beezie Madden today became the second ever lady winner, and the first person to win it back to back since Piero D’Inzeo in 1961/2! “No one has managed it back to back since before I was born,” said Beezie, “which is really saying something these days, that was aaaaages ago!” Bravo Beezie, we salute you, thank you for giving us such a masterclass in keeping your cool and producing the goods.
Another super fun and glamorous day, rugby legend Will Carling kept us all entertained, saying that he’d far rather take his chances in the bottom of a scrum with a 15st Samoan bearing down on him, than attempt to tackle any of the “monstrous fences” in there – “at least if you make a mistake with a rugby ball it doesn’t try and bite you.”
We were delighted to welcome our old Sky Sports family back to the showground. One of my favourite ‘special privileges’ is being allowed to sneak around behind the scenes, watching the live broadcast magic as it unfolds. It’s literally like hanging out with a bunch of wizards – Sam (who is furiously working out stats as they happen live) leans over and whispers to producer Trish that six people have had the first of the two gates down – Trish whispers down her radio, and hey presto commentary legend Mike Tucker casually drops in for the benefit of those watching at home that ‘we’ve really found the first gate to have caused a lot of problems today’ – wizards, I’m telling you, the lot of them.
One particularly special moment today was seeing course builder Bob Ellis (Bob The Builder) receive the Dorian Williams trophy for his outstanding contribution to the show. Having racked up an astonishing FORTY YEARS working on the Royal International Horse Show, people don’t perhaps understand quite how impressive it is that he’s still alive, let alone still building, bearing in mind quite how many ‘working suppers’ his great mate my Dad and him had late into the night! I’m not sure if anything could have illustrated better quite the level of esteem in which Bob is held by world-class riders, officials, sponsors and his building crew alike, than the honour guard that spontaneously popped up around him for his presentation… or the fact that William Funnell, Shane Breen, William Whitaker, Marcus Ehning etc picked him up after he’d won and fired him into the water jump! A classic Hickstead moment, that ranks up there with the best of them, seeing Bob emerge with bright blue trousers from his dip in the water! Thank you Bobbit, from us all, you are one in a million.
I must fly, as the travelling circus is about to leave our neck of the woods for another year, and there are many amazing individuals who I need to go and thank. I know it sounds like the slightly tipsy ramblings of an over-tired and over-sunned Bunn, but I cannot emphasise enough just how much we rely on our amazing team here at Hickstead. So thank you, one and all, you know who you are, you’re all complete wonders and we quite simply just couldn’t do it without you."
Showing star turned dressage diva Louise Bell has had a hectic few months of competition travelling the world and breaking the 70 percent barrier - but it's all in a days work...
"Since my last blog back in April for Horse & Country TV my feet have not touched the floor.
I got the call from British Dressage on the way home from Barcelona asking if I'd go to HAGEN! I had put my name down but...Yes HAGEN! So as GB representative with Dynamo, off we went.
I felt very honoured to be competing amongst the world’s best dressage riders and horses and I finished twelfth amongst the giants of dressage. I had a few ‘green’ mistakes but my God did I love competing there. I would like to say thank you to British Dressage and the Kassleman family, because it’s a great show. I also want to thank John Whitaker and friends for coming to watch his homebred Dynamo in between his jumping classes. Who would have thought you would have seen a Whitaker at the side of the dressage arena?
I have been to Hagen as a spectator and groom with Michael Eilberg and always thought one day I’ll ride there - and I did. I really hope to be able to go back as I loved every minute.
After a few weeks at home it was on to Somerford Park Premier League where Dynamo and I broke the 70% barrier in the Prix St Georges.
I was only home for a week when I get a formal invitation to the new state of the art CDI4* ES Fangar in Mallorca. They had invited me when I was competing in Barcelona back in April, but thought they were just being kind and didn’t really mean it. But when I got the formal invitation by the wonderful Victoria Krauss from Top Iberian it was official – I was being invited to an all-expenses paid show and even though it was a long way to go this was an opportunity not To be missed.
So in June off I set for the long drive to Mallorca. My great friend Tim Sillevis came as co-driver and care taker/groom. He was a star and we planned to drive through the night due to the heat which worked beautifully. We had stop overs in Lyon and in Barcelona – I didn't think I'd be back there so soon – staying at Barcelona Horses so a big thank you to Annabelle, Augustine, Lukas and Noria for their hospitality.
There were about 15 of us that night getting ready for the long boat trip from Barcelona to Palma, Mallorca and we all went in convoy – it was very exciting. I was worried about the long boat trip, but all the lorries were on the open deck with the wonderful breeze and ALL horses travelled peacefully. We stayed with Dynamo the whole way and the next morning we woke to the most beautiful scene – I had to pinch myself and say to my groom Jo: “Oh my God, look!” The sun was rising over the Mediterranean as we looked out at beautiful Mallorca.
We were first off the boat and the wonderful 'Dave Directions', also known as my iPhone satnav, said we were 40min away from the show. He has never let me down yet and for the last two miles I got a police escort, hugely impressive and I think they just wanted me to feel looked after.
To then be greeted by the whole Top Iberian team on arrival with a special plaque with my lorry registration and personal hook up all waiting – yes that is what they gave to all the competitors, not just me. However we arrived before the others as they didn’t have Dave Directions and took a longer route.
Dynamo came off the lorry to be met straight away by the show vet to check all was OK after the long journey. Dynamo was shown to his room for the week, his stable was bigger than my house and he loved it. Tim and I were taken to the hotel all riders were staying in – 5* all the way.
However there was training and riding to do – not lay on the beach all day – plus I was the official FEI foreign rider representative so I did have work to do. The facilities and arenas were spectacular. The horses wanted for nothing, nor the riders, judges, grooms and trainers, this was some show. Prizes included BMW cars to all Freestyle winners. Big tour and small, scooters, bikes and jewellery, you name it.
Into The Blue and I came a credible fourth in the small tour overall in both the PSG and Inter 1 and as the huge prize money paid for my diesel all the way over there and back it made this dressage show on a par with the Global Champions Tour in showjumping.
It was a great competition with great hospitality from the Eisenmann family and Matthias Rath’s (rider of Totilas) parents-in-law who own the ES FANGAR estate who invited all of the riders to such a spectacular event – a massive thank you to them!
Dynamo loves international shows as much as I do and I think that his endless energy makes him a prime candidate for long journeys and hot weather.
The best news is Get Smart is really coming on with his Grand Prix work and both he and Dynamo love piaffe, passage and one-time changes. They will both be ready for the next step this autumn. My young horse Zack has done brilliantly in the International six-year-old classes and I will do some Advanced Mediums on him soon and hope he will be my small tour horse by next spring – if he can get over his horror of other horses in the warm up.
I am also extremely proud of Michael Eilberg and Marakov for being selected for Team GB for the forthcoming FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen. I always told him he would do it but no one believed me. After the sad sale of Half Moon Delphi I prayed good news would come.
I wish our amazing team of Carl, Charlotte, Fiona and Michael the very best out in Aachen.
So... This has been a massive blog... But I have had a lot to tell you!"
Daisy Bunn brings you all the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"As I write, from Day three of international competition at this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show, it is with that bitter sweet Saturday feeling – the best night of the week is ahead of us, followed by the best day tomorrow… But it is the last night, and the last day of this year’s international shows, and I wish it could go on forever.
Ladies’ Day today, our judge world number one Scott Brash admitted that gold medals and Olympic fame aside, this was one of the best bits of his job. “For a lad from Peebles, whose job is riding horses,” he said, “not bad that I’m now actually encouraged to look at girls and say which one looks the best!” And for what it’s worth, Scott my friend, if the whole being the best in the world ever gets tiring and you’re thinking of a career change you actually have an incredibly good nose for fashion, and a killer outfit, and I know whose door to knock on next time I need some sartorial advice.
Without being too indiscreet, I’m not sure why I’m surprised! Despite protestations, when Scott turned up to my brother-in-law Shane Breen’s 70s themed 40th birthday without a costume, I forced him into one of mum’s old gold lamé creations and he LOVED it… and didn’t take it off all night. I actually have photographic evidence, but I think that would just be too mean.
To be quite frank, it’s a miracle we actually came up with a winner for Ladies' Day at all, as left to their own devices for five minutes, Scott and fellow judge Jay Halim had the finalists ‘trotting up’ so they could judge best conformation.
Another beaut of a day (three cheers British Summer, you totes delivered on the sunshine and accompanying blissed-out summer vibes that I ordered) we were treated to some more edge-of-your-seats action. Chloe Winchester stole the show today, adding her name to the history books with a convincing win in the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup, putting a field of old pros, not to mention three former Hickstead Derby winners, firmly back in their boxes. The Suffolk-based young-rider kept her nerve against a far more experienced field, illustrating yet again the fact that our sport really is a meritocracy, and that the best on the day will out.
Great friend Jodie Kidd and new friend Davina McCall helped send the glamour factor stratospheric, and we had a super-fun day in the Master’s Box today, with some great mates to entertain us, including Made In Chelsea’s Janie and Anna-Louise Felstead. Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca stormed to victory in our British Speed Classic this afternoon. Despite the fact that we do our best to give our non-horsie guests a crash-course in showjumping over lunch, I have to admit that the reason Davina, Jodie et al went home with particularly big grins on their faces is because they backed Lorenzo. While I could pretend it’s because we gave them all the inside info, it’s in fact because they sat next to two of my Italian best-friends (we went to Sevenoaks, an international school) at lunch, who had convinced them to bet on their compatriot.
Another night, another party, I do appreciate that no one feels sorry for me, but I must, go, so until tomorrow… Ciao! xx"
Showing reporter Felicity Clifford asks the question "why are the show pony classes getting smaller?"...
In recent years the numbers of show ponies seen in classes have got smaller and smaller, while their hairy counter part, the Mountain and Moorland (M&M) classes have got bigger and bigger. The sudden influx of M&M's have some judges calling the classes "death by M&M" because there are often over twenty horses in a class.
So why have M&M ponies become so popular? Granted they are less high maintence, you dont need to plait, trim and put quarter marks on them like you do Show Ponies and Hunter Ponies.
“They can do more jobs," said Debbie Gregson who has Connemara Walstead Pageboy, who her daughter Terri rides. "They can hunt in the winter and maybe jump as well. There’s no upper age limit, so you can keep your pony forever. They are often cheaper to buy and keep. Their kind forgiving nature makes them ideal for amateurs.”
If you’re lucky enough to have a hairy that is a keen jumper, and you yourself don't mind all four hooves leaving the floor, you could do M&M workers alngside flat classes. Potentially you could have four classes. You could do flat M&M and M&M workers, and plaited flat classes and plaited workers. However watch out for restrictions your ponies height and the age of the rider might be a limiting factor.
Show ponies are to some the “envy of the world” because of their grace and elegance according to judge Penny Clifford. While they are “man-made” through years of breeding, you can still have a lot of fun with them.
Another advantage of the show pony is that you are not restricted to just one class, if your horse or pony is either part bred Arab or part bred Welsh you can enter them in these classes as well. The part bred Arab classes now have a place at Horse of the Year Show, and is one of the most hotly contested classes in showing.
A lot of people think you can’t have fun with show ponies, which is rubbish. Recently on Facebook I saw a very well-known producer take her show ponies to the beach and to Somerford Park cross country to give them something different to look at and it looked so much fun I wanted to have a go.
I used to take my 14.2 show pony out hacking, where we would go for gallops in the cow fields and try and pop a hedge and ditch (sorry Mum!) I think things like that are important as it gives you and your horse something different to think about and it helps create a bond between horse and rider. Now I have a Novice Show Hack who is showing a lot of promise over the odd fence, which she loves and its keeps her interested in her work.
It would seem to some the native pony has a lot more positive points than the show pony. But I don't think it's had it's day and people shouldn't underestimate them. Hopefully we see more show ponies in the future.
Daisy Bunn brings you all the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"Hello, hello, and welcome back to my blog on the second day of international competition at this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show. A proper scorchio of a day, French-riviera-eat-your-heart-out-stylee, we have a bevvy of happy sponsors, spectators and riders alike, after a beautiful English summer’s day, and some world-class competition to boot.
First though, for those of you who remember the good old days of ‘blog fodder’, and the summary daily sacrifice of one of our incredibly hard-working team members for everyone else’s entertainment! Well, it’s back. Sadly, however, it is I who seems to have fallen prey today. Much to my delight, as I was walking elegantly/desperately focusing on not tripping over in my enormous stilettos as I walked across the International Arena, I realised that the marching band were playing ‘It’s Raining Men’… Not realising that they were T minus 2 from recording a huge showground piece for international television, and were miked up accordingly, I leaned into the play pen (esteemed Olympic course builders Kelvin Bywater & Bob Ellis’ mid-arena home) and hollered “Raining men? I don’t think so! Certainly not at Hickstead, and I’ve been looking hard!” Funny little in-joke with Bob and Kelvin thought I, another most entertaining thing about which to take the mickey out of Daisy thought the several hundred showground and television staff to whom it was transmitted. Super!
But back to the business of the day, and the only chance to watch team GB compete on home turf in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup presented by Longines. As I said yesterday, as one of the last chances to jump as a team before this year’s Europeans, the field really was the crème de la crème, and produced an absolute treat of an afternoon of top-class showjumping. You really couldn’t have scripted it better, as after two rounds of nail biting competition, we did in fact end up with a three-way jump off – not a common occurrence after 60 odd rounds of jumping at such a level.
But despite coming so close, it was the Belgians who lifted the famous Prince of Wales trophy and left the Swiss and the USA languishing in second and third respectively. A testament to the incredibly unique nature of our sport, that can see teenagers competing head to head with those not far from pensionable age, it was great to see some young faces on the podium, including Hickstead first-timer Judy Ann Melchior and Belgian legend Ludo Philippaertes’ 22-year-old son Olivier. Congratulations guys, and here’s to all the exciting talent currently surging up through the ranks of our sport.
And on that note… It is of course my responsibility (tough but someone’s got to do it) that Nations Cup winning Hickstead first-timers (not to mention incredibly good looking young Belgian men) experience the kind of Hickstead winners’ party that we have become famous for, and so to our garden I must fly, for one of my favourite nights of the year – our riders' and officials' BBQ.
Until tomorrow, and our Ladies Day, which reminds me, I really must find a hat"
H&C cannot wait for Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain this afternoon at Hickstead, but - as we all know - the nations cup can all get a little complicated...
So we have put together a simple short preview of today to help clear things up. We hope we have got things straight, but it's tough so bare with us...
Crowds are poised for some edge-of-your-seat showjumping action at Hickstead this afternoon as the Brits fight to continue their Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup winning streak.
Chef D’Equipe Di Lampard has her fingers crossed for a strong performance today at the team’s penultimate chance to score points to win a place at the final in Barcelona.
Brits have been on flying form so far this season, scooping a hat-trick of wins at La Baule, Rome and most recently Rotterdam in June.
But because the team have saved their remaining point-scoring opportunities until the competitions on home turf at Hickstead and at Dublin in August, they are only seventh on the leaderboard and still need to secure a top placing to guarantee a spot in Barcelona.
Fighting for Team GB’s ticket to the final are stalwarts Michael Whitaker, Guy Williams, and Olympic gold-medallist Ben Maher who are joined by rising star Holly Gillott.
The 25-year-old, who is fast becoming a Nations Cup regular, helped the team to victory in La Baule and Rome with her horse of a lifetime Dougie Douglas.
But the Brits will face a top field of international riders, including Penelope Leprevost for France, Laura Kraut for team USA and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum for Germany.
Race to Barcelona
Four other teams (Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany) are also hoping to score vital points today to get to those all-important finals in Barcelona in September.
Teams to watch out for include Belgium and Germany, who lie in fourth and fifth on the leaderboard, and will be hoping for a win at their last point-scoring opportunity of the series.
The riders will face two rounds over a whopping 1.60m track, with each team allowed to drop their worst score.
The team with the fewest combined faults wins – picking up maximum points as well as the coveted Prince of Wales trophy and the lion's share of the €200,000 prize-fund.
Daisy Bunn is back with all the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"So we now officially have an answer tolast night’s musingsabout who might win the Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge… none other than Kiwi eventing legend Andrew Nicholson. Hoorah, hip hip bravo, what a round, what a winner, and what a class!
It was ‘family day’ in our box, so we were packed to the rafters with godchildren and old friends galore. One of our guests was great friend Harry Wallace, showjumping stalwart Malcolm’s son, a Captain in the King’s Troop for many years. Well everyone was doing very well at being terribly civilised and grown up and sensible until Matt Broome suddenly realised where he’d met Harry before (after which the entire table was so hysterical that all order and sense had been lost completely for the day) and regaled everyone with the following story:
Our fathers being great, great mates, Harry and I hadn’t seen each other since we were tiny until about ten years ago, when we all reconnected at Olympia. Fast forward a month and Harry arrives at my silver-themed birthday party – fresh from the saddle of a point-to-pointer. Always game for a laugh, and finding himself lacking a costume, Harry simply stopped at a Halfords on the way, and via a can of silver spray paint and the skimpiest pair of speedos, arrived as the silver man! Calling his Dad on the way there for directions, having not been here since childhood, Malcolm said simply "Just get to Hickstead, and don’t worry you’ll hear them." Harry duly did just that, and following the noise found himself at the top of the Members' Grandstand… at a corporate Christmas Party where everyone else was wearing black tie! Much pandemonium ensued when several somewhat over excited ladies assumed that the stripper had arrived! Harry was eventually re-diverted to our house and party, but not before an incredibly embarrassing half an hour of making small talk in his tiny silver knickers with lots of fully clothed people.
It was back to serious business though for our new eventing class, and everyone was glued to the action unfolding before us. The new format proved to be a huge success, and it was very interesting talking to victor Andrew Nicholson just now about why he thought it had proved so tricky (there was a flurry of thrills and particularly spills into the lake!) He said his horse was “excellent at jumping fences, it’s just the in between bit we tend to struggle with”, and in fact Andrew had bought him specifically to fast forward his education of crowds and train him out of being a bit 'nervous and lookie’ – I quote! He went on to point out that it really is a unique class, with the new format of staying entirely in the arena, and not what most eventers are used to doing at a normal event, and hence why it had proved so challenging despite the quality of the field (six of 20 didn’t complete the course, with one retirement and five eliminations.)
Even though I hadn’t actually paid him to say this, Andrew pointed out that despite it being a relatively small field of 20, it was a testament to how much the riders enjoyed coming to jump here, as in that 20 were some of the very best eventers in the world; Tim Price, Pippa Funnell, Tina Cook, Elizabeth Power, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen to name just a few amongst them.
Panic not though, the home of British showjumping has not ‘gone all eventy’ as someone remarked earlier, and we had two great wins by Trevor Breen and Michael Whitaker earlier in the day. Rock on tomorrow’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, the only chance to watch Team GB compete on home turf – it promises to be a mega competition as we have some of the strongest teams in years, serving as it does as one of their last competitions before next month’s European Championships. Come on Team GB!"
Daisy Bunn is back with the latest behind the scenes gossip from Hickstead...
"Hello and welcome to the first blog of the Longines Royal International Horse Show. We're nearing the end of our country's summer season, having had a fantastic run of shows with Royal Windsor, Bolesworth, the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting and the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour under our belt. It's great that the amount of top-level international shows in this country now reflects our riders’ standing on the world stage.
When lucky enough to be on an organising committee of a five-star show like ours, you become well used to your familiar understanding of a working day being thrown entirely out of the window. Your days end up being split into new time chunks – pre-show opening, morning, middle and afternoon of show day, and post show day. Well I’m writing this well into post show-day I’m afraid, which means I'm already late for at least one exhibitor's cocktail party, not to mention all the people staying at the house whose supper will not magic itself onto plates.
After some ribbing last night from reigning Equestrian.com Derby winner Trevor Breen about the ‘simple supper’ I had produced not being quite as elaborate as my normal wannabe-Nigella offerings, he was told in no uncertain terms that he was lucky he was eating pudding with ‘pie’ in the title, because from tonight onwards it is strictly handheld puddings of the cornetto variety, which require no making and even less washing up.
Our first day of competition in the international arena today was full of exciting national championships, and I’m always amazed how many top-flight riders appear on our balcony to watch proceedings. The reason why is because it is one of the most important days of the year for spotting the stars of the future, and if I had a pound for every Wednesday Winner who had gone on to the very top level, both human and equine athletes alike, I wouldn’t be naffing around with hand-held ice creams I can tell you!
Despite the somewhat embarrassing green-screen moment in the presentation earlier when, too overexcited for words, Chelsea Skelton’s mount wouldn’t come within 6ft of the shiny red rosette I was trying to proffer, 18-year-old Chelsea’s win stands out as a real highlight today, after a super round against a serious field.
I must fly, as late has become seriously late since I’ve been sitting here typing, but all eyes are turned to tomorrow’s Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge. Back by popular demand (and that’s not me pedalling out that over-used phrase) we were genuinely inundated by members of the public demanding the re-instatement of the class after we had discontinued it last year.
Some of our classes, like the Derbies, are wonderfully perpetual, but sometimes change and innovation are essential, and our old Eventing Grand Prix had come to the end of its lifespan. So tomorrow sees an entirely new competition, with a different format, and we are VERY excited. We are lucky that the word Hickstead is synonymous with the very best of the best, and we took the decision to raise the quality of the competition by making it a pure eventing class – the showjumpers will no longer go head to head with the event riders, and the competition will remain entirely in the confines of the International Arena – rather than the horses and riders disappearing up into our garden!
With a field strong in top event horses, our gamble has paid off, and the ante really has been uppped - I for one cannot wait to see who will have been on the winner’s podium by this time tomorrow.
Para-dressage rider Erin Orford has had a hectic few weeks of competition, plus she looks ahead to a sporting challenge with a difference...
"Well…so much has happened in the last few weeks, I’m not entirely sure where to start! I went to the RDA Nationals, I was asked to go on the British Dressage stand and to also present the rosettes and trophies in the prize giving. It is such a fantastic competition and the attendance has grown so much over the last few years, they’ve had to add an extra day to cater for everybody. About 10 years ago I won my first RDA National title, so to be back there presenting the prizes was a strange feeling - but it was great to get the chance to chat to people interested in developing their riding and helping them to realise what other opportunities are out there.
Our trip to Holland didn’t go quite as expected but we managed to finish with two respectable scores, which suggests that the judges like my mare... Always a good start! When you take a new horse in that sort of environment, anything from a change in their routine can affect them and until you try, it is difficult to know how best to manage them in order for them to produce their optimum performance. It was a great learning experience for her and for us and since then we have a made a few simple changes, which have made a huge difference.
Before we knew it, Hickstead Spring Championships were here – it’s a fantastic competition, and tied in with the Premier League it offers a great opportunity to showcase Para Dressage but with so much going on, there is an undeniable atmosphere so it really does test the horses’ concentration. I have had several 'challenging' rides there over the last few years including face planting at X in the Jaap Pot arena and being asked to leave the warm up due to a minor loss of control, so it was refreshing riding without my main objective being to stay in the arena!
Nearly 40 riders had qualified for the Championships so it was great to see full classes with some new combinations coming through. Pimms got better and better over the competition and entering the arena for the Championship test I felt like whatever I asked she offered even more, which for a rider is just an amazing feeling. I had my best Hickstead ever, finishing a close second with scores of more than 70% on both days – that was more like it!
Next stop was Hartpury International, and with both Hickstead and Hartpury acting as final selections for the Europeans, the pressure was on for everybody to perform. I was looking forward to building on the positive experience we had at Hickstead and she raised to the challenge. It was a strong class with the Canadian bronze medallist from WEG last year, and Natasha Baker, the current Paralympic Champion, so I was delighted on Championship day to finish third with 71.2% - the top three were all within 1% and one judge even had us to win on a massive 76%! Each day she grew in confidence and despite the hot weather she finished the week as fresh as she started.
The final day, in the main arena for the music she seemed to grow in the atmosphere, so much so I had to make an impromptu floorplan change when we were way ahead of our music! With the quick change at the end, I was grateful to finish both in time with the music and facing the judges so when I saw the results I was thrilled. It couldn’t have been closer, with two judges having Natasha to win, two having me to win and one judge having us both to win on exactly the same score. We ended second on a personal best of 74.8%, just 0.8% behind Natasha. It was great to have Pimms' owner Annie and her mum along with the rest of her support team come and see her dance and they were thrilled when Pimms was followed down to the hand grazing area for some chill time by the one and only Valegro!
With only five spaces available across 5 grades, the selectors for the European Championships had a tough job as always and massive congratulations to the riders selected – it’s another strong and experienced squad for Team GB and I look forward to seeing the collection of medals that return home with them!
Until then, we have Bishop Burton 3* International in two weeks – another opportunity to gain valuable points for our World Rankings in preparation for Rio selection next year! Sophie Christiansen and I haven’t planned our diaries particularly well though as the following day we take part in a team triathalon for the Para Tri competition at Dorney Lake. I’ll be swapping my breeches for a wetsuit to do the swimming before Sophie takes over for the cycling section. If I’m honest, my approach to swimming is more with a purpose of ‘not drowning’ rather than speed, but I’m looking forward to a different type of challenge even if it is starting to get a little more real!"
Moody Dressage apprentice Bea Burnham in the lecture demo organised by Becky
In dressage rider Becky Moody's new blog, she reflects on a productive lecture demo, and looks back on two fantastic dressage competitions...
"In May, with the help of some amazing volunteers, we ran our first ‘Northern Dressage Extravaganza’ – a charity lecture demo held in aid of various different charities. Although slightly stressful(!), I was really pleased with how it went – I hope it was educating, entertaining and inspiring for all those who braved the coldest EVER day in May to come along.
As with any new venture, there was a certain amount of experimenting in terms of the format. I tried to make things a little different by having a ‘panel’ of experts: myself, my sister Hannah - who as well as being a Grand Prix rider and international coach is also heavily involved as a coach educator; Jo Graham – international judge and Grand Prix rider/coach, and Peter Scholefield – one of the North’s most highly-regarded vets.
All of these fabulous people, as well as my demo riders and a host of volunteers gave their time for nothing, and Askham Bryan College were kind enough to give their great facilities free of charge. Add to that my ‘super sponsors’ (Childeric Saddles, Spillers, Throstle Nest Saddlery, the Swan Hotel, and NCP Carparks) whose very generous donations covered the tiered seating and great sound system, meaning the entirety of our £6,000 ticket sales were able to be split between the charities. And our impromptu raffle raised £600 for the DEC Nepal Appeal. Happy days indeed!
When we have recovered from organising this one, we may start building up to the next one – in a year or 10....
BUT, one of the reasons I brought up this event, was a section that we did about what qualities you look for in a good coach. We had some audience participation, and came up with a pretty good list - good communication skills, knowledge, empathy, honesty, challenging (in a good way), patience, thoughtful, logical, adaptable, persistent, consistent, and so on...
When talking through all these things it made me really conscious that these are very similar things to what you need not only as a coach but also as a rider, after all – you, the rider – are coaching your horse. Maybe something to think about when you are riding by yourself and feel you are getting a bit lost with what you are trying to achieve...
During the past month I have been to two great events that are most certainly going to put dressage even more on the map in the North of England than it already is. Somerford Dressage, the brainchild of Julian Sebire, has always been a brilliant event, but this year, under the new management of Jo Graham and her great team, things were taken to a new level. With an international show planned for 2016 it was really great to see how it is going to develop.
The second event was Bolesworth International, a 4* showjumping event that dipped its toes in the dressage pond with an invitation only Inter 1 freestyle. This show has an amazing atmosphere and setting, and the main arena – almost like an amphitheatre, has its own moat – yes – an actual flippin’ moat. And more relevant is that there is no fence between said moat and the arena.... Luckily the space is so large that the 20x60 dressage arena was positioned nicely in the middle – far enough away for my horse to not notice the water while doing his test! It was only in the prizegiving that I really wished I had packed a pair of armbands..."