Clooney after his first lesson with Richard Davison: "I didn't die, which is always a bonus!"
Steph Croxford and Mr Hyde suffer a set back but things are on the up for her youngster Clooney
It’s been a while since my last blog and as always in the Croxford household quite a lot has happened. Some good and some disastrous…
The Nationals were defiantly the latter – as I found out 30 minutes before I was due to go in that I had learnt the wrong test! I was told by British Dressage (BD) back in March it was going to be the new BD 2014 Intermediate II. It suited us well, as it’s quite different from the grand prix, so it wouldn’t confuse Mr Hyde with his grand prix training.
We practiced the test all summer and were ready and raring to go for the Nationals. We arrived in plenty of time and even had time for a spot of shopping, which was when I bumped into fellow competitor Roger Gregory.
He started teasing me that the test wasn't a BD Inter II, but the FEI Inter II. I thought he was just winding me up, but it turns out they had changed it – but failed to let anyone know! By this time I had around 20 minutes to warm up for a test I hadn’t ridden since January!
We started off going the wrong way down the centre line. Then Mr Hyde got all confused and thought he was doing the grand prix test, as he’s so programmed to do it!
So we decided to do our own 'Freestyle' Inter II. He gave me some beautiful one time changes, but I was saying to him ‘No that’s grand prix!’
By this point Simon, who was calling the test, said we said we might as will give up and go home!
We made seven major mistakes and must have dropped 10%, so to come out with a score of 62.79% is a minor miracle. But it was also slightly frustrating as we would have been top three.
I completely lost confidence in him after that. I didn’t want to go to Fieldhouse to do the grand prix earlier this month, but Simon said we should go along and do it without putting any pressure on ourselves.
Mr Hyde tried his socks off, bless him, and we got 67.1%. There were still green bits, but it was the best test he’s done to date.
I feel a bit more confident now, and am going to Vale View to do the High Profile Show at the end of the month.
I threatened Mr P with doing the Inter II there as well, but I sat down and thought about it. I don’t want people saying ‘why’s she dragging that poor horse out again!’ But I’ve got to keep his brain active and he’s still working at grand prix level at home, so it silly to have him just sitting there.
He really wants to do something and has been trying to bite Clyde’s bottom as he’s very jealous. He needs to get out competing, but not the High Profile stuff, so I’ve decided to do a test somewhere a bit more low key.
I’d like to retire him and put him out in a field, but he won’t do it. The day he retires is the day he will drop dead. He’s a worker and we owe it to him to keep him happy and active as long as he wants to be. When he turns round and say, ‘I’ve had enough’, we’ll say ‘of course, mate’ but he still refuses to to that at nearly 21!
We’re also busy with our next dressage star, Clooney, who had his first lesson with Richard [Davison]. I didn't die and he didn’t tell me to sell him, which is always a bonus! He was less spooky that Clyde – touch wood he’s behaving himself really well. There’s no point competing him yet, but we might take him out to a show just to have a ride around.
That’s it for now, I’ll let you know how we get on at the High Profile with Clyde… It can’t be any worse than the Nationals!
Phillip Miller groomed for Chris in the Hickstead Celebrity Scurry
Scurry driver Chris Orchard gets ready for HOYS and hopes for a little less drama in the season ahead
After a successful season, with too many placings to mention with Carriagehouse Insurance Touch & Go and Rough & Tumble behind me, I don't seem to have had time to catch my breath before we found ourselves washing harnesses and clipping ponies in the final preparations for Horse of the year Show (HOYS).
It’s been a great summer with some lovely sunny days, along with all those superb county shows and two memorable Hickstead meetings.
The celebrity scurry at the Derby meeting in June was once again brilliant fun. My groom for the day was last year’s Derby winner Phillip Miller, who certainly seemed to enjoy his new experience. After some coaching in the collecting ring, and explaining how it all works while we walked the course together, we were ready to roll.
As we entered the international arena and made our way over to the start, I was surprised to hear Phillip shouting to me, “Oh, they are soo fast”. To which my only reply could be: “Phillip we haven't started yet, hold on and lean!!”
I headed the ponies for the first set of cones and said the magic word – “Go!” – and off they went. At this point Phillip started yelling very loudly and very excitedly, and didn't stop till we had finished the round!
He did an excellent job of grooming and we were placed fourth, which in no way reflected the enthusiasm and delight of my passenger! Phillip went on to finish second in this year’s Derby, so a great time was had by all.
The New Forrest show was memorable for a completely different reason. About two hours into our journey down to the show, Paul suddenly said: “You know we put that spare padlock on the carriage trailer because we had lost the combination lock?” Yes… “Well did you pick up the key?” No!! Oops. It meant that when we got to the show we wouldn’t be able to get the carriages out of the trailer.
After some quick thinking we called Jeff Osborne to see if he had an angle grinder on his lorry. He's the kind of chap who usually has everything, but he didn't have one on board. So we put in another call to one of the competitors, who lives near the show, and got them to bring an angle grinder along for us. Phew! We duly arrived at the lorry park, and before we had time to even mention the imminent arrival of said grinder, two of the other competitors swooped on the offending padlock with bolt croppers. In no time at all they chopped it into small pieces, releasing our carriages.
Scurry drivers always seem to be good in a crisis and are great at problem solving. It’s a case of ‘one for all and all for one’. Needless to say, the combination lock was replaced immediately and only combination locks will be used from now on.
So, with drama and crisis firmly behind us, the preparations for ‘the big one’ (HOYS) are in full flight. I for one am looking forward to a little more luck this year!
Louise takes a trip to Aachen to see the world's best - including Valegro - in action
Showing rider Louise Bell reflects on a successful summer in both the show ring and the dressage arena
I am not quite sure where the time has gone as my feet don’t seem to have touched the ground for weeks! I have been having an incredible season.
In the showing ring, I'm delighted to say that W Get Smart and I took this year's Supreme Working Hunter title at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. It was a record twelfth time so a great result.
Meanwhile, in the dressage arena, I made my debut representing Great Britain at the Hartpury CDI. I won the Advanced class and was fourth in the Prix St Georges on Into The Blue, while I also had W Get Smart in the Small Tour classes. A great achievement for a rider and two horses that have only been competing in dressage for two years!
Then I had the opportunity to go to Aachen to support Team GB, including my dressage trainer and great friend Michael Eilberg. Wow, that is the best show I have ever been to in my life! Getting to watch the best of the best in action - including world number one Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro - and dreaming one day I can be good enough to ride at Aachen myself. I also got to catch up with my show jumping buddies out there too.
There was a slight panic a week later on my part. Having been so focused on my dressage this summer, I realised I had only left a window of a week to qualify both my horses for HOYS in the Cuddy Working Hunter class – eeek! For once luck was on my side and Into the Blue went champion at Wales and the West and while W Get Smart was champion at the BSPS Championship show..... Phew!
The following week saw my super star Dynamo became crowned National Working Hunter Champion and Supreme Working Hunter at the National Hunter Championships held at Bury Farm. Then as luck would have it, the British Show Horse Association had their championship show and were taking late entries for the HOYS hunter class. So with a last minute entry I trotted off to the show with Dynamo to see if he could qualify for the lightweight hunter class.
When I got there I discovered 23 of the best hunters in the country! I knew I would have had to pull off something special with Dynamo to even get a look in. All I can say is that my horse was perfection and in the evening performance he shone. To my left, Katie Jerram kindly informed me that I got the golden ticket and I was totally and utterly elated! All I can say is that dressage had made my horses so much more rideable than ever before and I'm forever grateful for my training. I feel I learn more every day.
The next big outing was The LeMieux National Dressage championships – and my nationals debut. I was straight in at the deep end - Small Tour and the Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I. I have to say that W Get Smart and I loved doing our test. I nearly cried coming down the last centreline, he was such a star. Looking at the judge’s comments and point of view, I have a lot to work on - with 'Watson' not always consistent in the contact - he gets distracted easily. But we did a 'clear round' and just need to spend the winter perfecting it. I was so proud of my horse that a couple of months before was a Working Hunter Champion at Hickstead and now looking like he may well be a dressage champion in the near future! I am a very happy but totally exhausted girl!"
Showjumper Yazmin Pinchen fits in some sightseeing in between showjumping classes in Vienna, and questions whether horses would jump if they didn't love it...
I'm writing this blog on a plane, on the way home from the most incredible week spent in Vienna at the Longines Global Champions Tour. As usual, it was a lovely show, great atmosphere and I learnt a lot. It is always an incredible experience getting to ride at shows like these.
The first day I came fifth in the 1.45m class with Ashkari, then Van de Vivaldi jumped the big class that evening. We tried him in a new bit, which he had been going well in at home, but I guess the atmosphere, the floodlights and all the excitement got too much for him and he took off. It was a bit of a battle all the way round and it did not go to plan at all!
The next day was the Grand Prix, the big 1.60m class that everyone wants to win. My mare Ashkari - known at home as India - warmed up extremely well and I had a good feeling with her. But I rode into the arena feeling so nervous, and proceeded to do the most crazy, stupid thing ever. I took way too many pulls down a line to a wall, and unsurprisingly India came to an abrupt halt four strides away from the fence. I don’t blame her! I had to turn a circle and come back round, I was determined to now jump clear and prove that we were capable and that was just a stupid mistake. And that we did, she jumped amazingly. Never touched a fence, of course I was gutted, but mistakes happen and I will definitely not do that again in a hurry!
On the final day I jumped India in the Vienna Masters which was 1.55m - 1.60m. As she only jumped one round the day before, I felt she could easily jump another class. She jumped her heart out and produced a clear round, so we went into an extremely tough jump-off with all the top riders. I knew I wouldn’t be as quick as them so I made a plan to have a clear and keep it tight. Of course, adrenalin took over and something came over me and we started going faster… It was all too much to and I got way too close to the third fence, an oxer. Bless India, she jumped it, however we didn't clear it. It was totally my fault but we finished nicely, ending in 11th place overall.
In my spare time myself, my family and boyfriend went into the town of Vienna to explore. We even took a horse and carriage ride to see all the sights. We were recommended to go the Spanish Riding School so we ventured there and it was a beautiful building, ancient but elegant. I would love stables like that!
Watching the horses did get me thinking though. It takes years of training to get horses to perform as they do, and this applies to any equestrian sport. Sometimes I get the odd bit of feedback from people who think showjumping is cruel. But I know that horses enjoy jumping, at whatever level, or they would not do it. My horses have their ears pricked forward when they're jumping, and I'd never overjump them, or press them to do something they are not enjoying, because you can tell how a horse is feeling, and sense if they're nervous or tired. I know my horses love jumping, and that is why we get the results we get.
In other exciting news, my new website launched this week. I have a new logo, a new layout and a newsletter that everyone can sign up to. Please have a look and sign up to the newsletter to keep up to date with all my results, travels and news.
I am off to Arena UK tomorrow with six horses, I can't wait to get back to an English show and see old friends - and I'm excited to hear that the Grand Prix will be shown live on Horse & Country! I am aiming to try to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show on a wildcard, so I can jump the international classes at HOYS with Ashkari and Van de Vivaldi. Fingers crossed!
Alice has some fantastic results at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships...
"Our final prep run before the Nationals was the last ever Advanced Medium Freestyle to Music Final at Wellington. We weren't competing until 8.30 pm so it was late and dark, which can unsettle a nervous horse, but fortunately Socs was amazing. He scored over 76% to take the title, and since it was the last time it was going to be run, we get to keep the enormous trophy. It has some amazing names from the world of dressage, going back 30 years.
We headed to the Nationals feeling pretty confident. Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) was the first to compete. She was quite hot and excited to be out at a party, but thankfully my trainer Erik was there to help me warm up so we managed a reasonably calm test in the Prix St Georges. There were a couple of little mistakes but we still scored 68.9% to finish just out of the placings, but I was thrilled as it was a very strong class.
The following day was the Intermediate I. Bracks felt more settled in the warm-up but was still quite hot in the arena so we had a few annoying mistakes, which meant we missed out on qualifying for the Freestyle. I think she is bored of Small Tour now and wants to move up to Grand Prix! I had some lovely comments from other riders after I had played with the piaffe and passage when I rode her, so I'm very excited about next year with her.
Saturday morning brought a very early start as Socs was first to go in the Medium at 8am. He was a bit nervous so had some uncharacteristic errors, but still managed to finish fifth with nearly 70%. It was then time for the big one, Del's (Headmore Delegate) Grand Prix. Charlotte Dujardin was on hand to help me warm up which was amazing and Del was fab! He gave me an amazing ride and produced the best Grand Prix test he had ever done to score 68.34% and finish fifth, which was incredible. We got loads of lovely comments from people who had seen the test as well which is always lovely, including a few people saying I should have been placed higher!
We had a lovely meal that evening with Socs' and Wilbur's (Headmore Wrubinstar) owners as well as friends of ours who had come up for the weekend to support, although I was exhausted by about 9pm due to the early start, but it was good food and a good night.
The final day started off with Socs' Advanced Medium. This was a really strong class and he gave me absolutely everything, even with all of the applause that was going on around him, to finish an amazing fourth, beating some successful horses. He has come so far in such a short space of time, and all the hard work we have put in to help him with his fear of clapping has paid off, hopefully he will keep growing in confidence and climbing up the placings at Championships.
We finished with Del's Grand Prix Freestyle. I was thrilled to be competing in it, since only the top 10 from the Grand Prix qualify. We hadn't practiced either as we were concentrating so hard on the Grand Prix! He felt amazing in the warm up but got very lit up when the music started, so most of my trot work was completed in canter!
Overall it was a very good week and end to the season. Roll on next year's Championships!"
Our blogger Sarina has had a fun season, mixed with some frustrations
Our blogger Sarina Stokes won H&C's competition to write a guest blog for a year. Read her latest update to find out why she went swimming during a cross-country session, and why she keeps having mental blanks in the showjumping...
"Following my Badminton error, when I took the wrong showjumping course, I have been determined to ride as well as I can and not let my mare down. So we have been doing lots of training, with the aim of doing a BE100 Plus.
To get started with this new training drive, we went to Boomerang Farm cross-country schooling. It was a stunning day and we started off well, with Cheeky practically pulling me over the logs into the water. I was feeling confident, and that is where I should have taken a moment to stop and think. Jonathan (my boyfriend) suggested I jump over the scariest fence - a white log with a plastic loop over the top with rattling sticks attached to it. I pointed out that it was a little too much at that stage of the training session and I was fairly sure it was not a good idea. However, after a brilliant leap into the water, I decided to give the scary rattling jump a try.
Just at the moment we approached, the wind caught the plastic sticks and the jump made quite a weird sound, not unlike a rattlesnake - at least according to Cheeky. She spun once, and I thought, okay, I can save this. Then she spun again, and I realised, no, I can't.
All last season I was wondering if my air jacket worked properly, as I had dismounted a few times without unattaching the cord and it hadn't inflated. Well, in the water at Boomerang, it went off with a pop. One very soggy Sarina and a slightly surprised Cheeky as she watched mummy fly off with a bang and make a scary splashing sound in the water.
A few lessons to learn there. Lesson one, always show your horse a jump first if you think it might cause problems. Lesson two, take a change in clothing or you might have a very soggy journey home. Lesson three, don't let your boyfriend put your muddy air jacket in the washing machine!
So for our first competition after Badminton I chose Farley Hall, since its fairly local. I'd been looking at the fences online and was hoping to avoid a certain picture frame fence that I'd spotted. Sure enough, when I walked the course, there was the picture frame - but as it was the last jump on the course and the rest of fences looked fairly large, I decided the likelihood of getting that far was slim anyway!
I am in awe as always of the way horses sometime surprise us and relish a challenge as much as we do. Cheeky flew round the cross-country, picture frame and all, and with a decent dressage score as usual we got close to the top 10, so I was very pleased.
But with Farley Hall and then Berkshire College behind us (where we scored a 23 dressage), there was still no top 10 rosette. I just need to sort my showjumping, as I seem to have a total blank when I go in the ring. I could be in a meditative trance every time, as when I come out of the ring I can only recall small glimpses of the previous three minutes!
Also, I am not sure if horses and humans contract each others colds, but whenever I have a cold, I'm sure Cheeky becomes off colour too. The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes it's best not to compete at all if you feel unwell. At Carlton, all the wheels fell off our wagon (so to speak). Walking off the cross-country course is neber a great feeling, but it's better to pull up than have a serious fall. The end of the season is now approaching, and I would dearly like to utter the words double clear!"
International event rider Sharon Hunt tells us about the horse she believes will take her back to the top…
"The last six weeks have just been the best. We have had incredible weather, with well-timed thunderstorms or showers to help soften the ground. We have travelled hunreds of miles, from Scotland to Sussex, and we have just come back from a brilliant week jumping in Milllstreet, Ireland.
All the horses are going superbly - they just get better and better. There is no doubt in my mind that my new yard and amazing facilities are responsible for this. They are happier as they have a much more varied routine, gallop work, field schooling and jumping, and also they live out - so they are far more relaxed. I too have a different mindset, as there isn't any monotony having so many different places to ride. I am also able to train others more as I have so much more available time, since we are not off to the gallops every five minutes.
The Hickstead Derby meeting was great fun as always, my horses always jump well there and after a week long intensive jumping session, I really improved. I am lucky enough to have help from Loughnatousa Stud owner Tim Beecher now, his help (and horsepower) has been invaluable to me and everything is going from strength to strength.
I qualified with Superman (Loughnatousa Fabio) for the main ring for the Foxhunter. Just to jump in it is great experience for him, he went very well all week. Harriet was the shining star - she won the 1.15m Derby, out of 120 entries. It was pouring with rain and you did need an event horse really, she is proving to be very competitive at both disciplines. Several very classy wins in Millstreet has left me scratching my head as to which is her best route for the future.
Superman is the horse of the summer for me though, he has been incredible. We started with some good Intermediate runs, then a very successful Hickstead, then we went to Barbury for the CIC2*. He was lacking mileage for this event, as it's a fairly strong two-star, but he went superbly, except for me relaxing at the end resulting in an annoying run-out at a corner. I needed to sharpen up!
We then went up to Burgham CIC2*, an event I thoroughly recommend. It was a great location, albeit a long way up north. They really made the best of it and the cross-country course was testing enough and educational. Superman scored a 40 in the dressage to lead it, then double clear with a few time faults, aware of my needing a good clear for our qualification, we finished eighth, so job done really.
We then went to Gatcombe for the Novice Championships. We had the worst of the weather for his dressage test, which was disappointing as I felt he performed a near perfect test. One judge had us 26 marks below the other, a massive discrepancy which really affected the mark, and he scored a 29, which was very disappointing. However he jumped a beautiful double clear and finished third. He was so impressive in the warm-up for the show jumping that several people simply stopped what they were doing and watched. This horse is one for the future and will bring me back to the big time. I have no doubts about that whatsoever. He is pure pleasure to ride and own, and I do know and appreciate how lucky I am."
Alice has had a mixed month of weather and results, but it culminates in a fantastic result in the Young Horse Finals...
"We've had a fairly manic few weeks recently as we are definitely starting to near the business end of the season. It began with Socs' (Tantoni Sir Soccrates) in the Regionals at Sparsholt in the immense heatwave that was our summer. In the medium on the first day he was quite nervous but still managed a mistake free test to score 73% to win, even though I hadn't been able to ride on full power. The following day for the Advanced Medium he was much more settled and was simply incredible, scoring nearly 75% to win again and complete his qualification for the Nationals at both levels.
We also went to Addington for the Regionals with Wilbur (Headmore Wrubinstar) and Tank (Headmore Wimoweh), where the weather couldn't have been more different with hailstones and gale force wind. Thankfully the storm had passed through by the time I had to ride so I stayed dry. Wilbur was first to go and I was thrilled with his way of going and rideability in the test. There were just a few green mistakes but I thought the test deserved about 69%. Two judges awarded that but unfortunately the other judge only awarded him 63%, but that's dressage! I was also pleased with Tank, although there were also a few green mistakes, but he still finished eighth in a strong class with 68%. It's a shame that I'm not allowed to ride below Medium level because Tank and Wilbur would have been better doing Elementary this season, but hopefully that rule will be changed soon.
Sandwiched in the middle of the Regionals we also had Hickstead CDI. Both Del (Headmore Delegate) and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) sailed through the trot-up. Bracks competed in the Prix St Georges first, where she was in a bit of a weird mood. She felt like she was bored of the test and wanted to step up to big tour so it wasn't our best but we still got through to the Inter I freestyle. She was awesome in the Freestyle and we both really enjoyed it.
I also had Tank at Hickstead in the Young Horse finals. In the National class, we had to do our test while there were prizegivings going on in the other arena, but Tank was amazing and really trusted me even though he was a bit unsure. We were rewarded with the highest mark of the show, 86.2%, to win the final, which was awesome. We also contested the international final the following day and I was pleased with him as the test was very difficult, but he was tired from the effort he had put in the previous day. He still finished fourth, so overall it was a very good week's work.
Del has also been awarded a wildcard for the Nationals at Grand Prix, so he will be joining Socs and Bracks at Stoneleigh – so look out for us there.
Finally, I would like to mention what a fab result for the British team at the World Equestrian Games, and particularly my friend Charlotte Dujardin who has now won everything there is to win in the sport of dressage! I've told her now she just has to teach me how to do it!"
H&C's web editor Victoria is in Normandy for the World Equestrian Games - read her blog from a soggy Caen...
"A few days before I left for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, I went back to Scotland - my homeland - for a few days. It rained. It often does in Scotland, so I wasn't surprised. It wouldn't be summer in Scotland without a steady downpour - it would alarm the locals.
And I had two weeks in Normandy, France to look forward to, when I could bask in glorious sunshine. I came home from Scotland, unpacked my coats and warm winter layers, and repacked for France. Into my suitcase went my sundress and my sunglasses, while I deliberated between factor 8 and factor 15.
Well, that was a mistake.
It rained heavily all day yesterday. While the H&C TV team got to grips with complex accreditation systems and multiple venues that stretch the length and breadth of Caen, it poured incessantly. Bewildered tourists pulled on plastic ponchos and umbrellas popped up all around the stands, while I thanked my lucky stars I don't have to be on camera as my hair quickly started to resemble that infamous non-swimming rodent.
Even my minibreak in Scotland was starting to look like a week in a tropical paradise compared to this.
As the Grand Prix competition got underway, it got steadily wetter. The arena started to glisten like a lake and I wondered which would be the first horse to start doing front crawl down the centre line. It's rare that you can judge the tempo, impulsion and rhythm of an extended canter purely by listening to the splashing noises made by the horses' feet.
The forecast for this week remained as gloomy and doom-laden as your average tabloid newspaper, and I cursed my stupidity in bringing a sundress when what I actually needed was a full-length waterproof coat topped with a sou'wester, and enough warm layers to restock your average tack shop.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I opened my curtains this morning to see - shock horror - a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Off we set towards the Stadium D'Ornano, umbrella-free and full of spring.
It rained again about two hours later.
In a way, it felt kind of apt - after our brief golden run of being the leading dressage nation, Germany have raised their A game. Even without star horse Totilas, they have produced an extraordinary lead here at WEG, with three riders in the top four so far. No one else has come close. They are ridiculously good.
In just under an hour from now, our shining ray of hope Charlotte Dujardin will ride into the arena on Valegro. They've consistently beaten all these horses and riders over and over again, so hopefully they'll produce the goods again this afternoon and score more than 82% to take the lead and boost British chances of winning a team medal too.
But a surprise result in Aachen, when Valegro scored 76.9% to finish sixth, reminded us that horses - a bit like the weather - don't always do what you expect them to. Hey, sometimes you get boiling hot days in Scotland too.
And Aachen was then, this is now. The sun is back out, and our hopes are high. Charlotte and Valegro, you can do this. We have every belief.
Alice has had mixed marks at the Festival of Dressage which leaves here wondering -is there room to debate dressage judging more...
"So I have had an exciting few weeks that started off as we headed to Hartpury for their Festival of Dressage, which incorporates the young dressage horse championships as well as the Hartpury CDI, as Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) was competing in her first International.
After we had settled the horses into their stables we got Bracks ready for her trot up, which she sailed through, before I got a chance to ride her in the competition arena. She was very keen and quite excited to be at a party, but at least she was enjoying herself.
At the draw in the evening I was early on, which is standard for me, so we had a reasonably early start. Bracks felt a bit tense and had a couple of small mistakes but overall I was pleased with how it went. Unfortunatly we had some massive discrepancies in the marks, one judge awarded us 69% for sixth, while another gave us 61% which had us in last place! This meant that we finished somewhere around the middle and once again reignited the debate about dressage judging, however as yet no answers have been found.
In the afternoon I rode the young horses Tank (Headmore Wimoweh) and Billy (Tantoni Sibellius) before having a lesson on Del (Headmore Delegate) with Charlotte. We had decided we would be better not to compete him at Hartpury to give us a bit more time to consolidate everything after our dodgy ride at Hickstead! We were treated to a lovely meal in the evening by Tank's owner, Joanne Graham, who had made the trip down from Northumberland to watch him.
Saturday held a very early start as Billy had been drawn early in the four-year-old championship. He was a star, finishing sixth despite his early draw. Tank was quite nervous in his test as it was held in the Hartpury indoor arena so unfortunately didn't show himself off to his best so finished just outside the placings. We hadn't finished yet however as Bracks still had her Inter I to do in the afternoon. She felt more settled than in the PSG, just had an unfortunate mistake in the first set of changes which worried her for a couple of movements, but overall I thought the test was better than the PSG. Once again we had some bizarre judging as the judge that had really liked her on the first day marked her lower, but the judge that had her last gave her a better mark in the Inter I, that's why we love dressage! We did make it into the freestyle however, so I was pleased we would get to do that.
Sunday held another fairly busy day which threatened to be rather stressful as I was drawn first in the music (standard) as it clashed with Billy's time, but thankfully the other competitors were very understanding so we could move my time. So we finished off the week with Bracks in the Inter I freestyle. She was fab, we just had a mistake in the three's, but they are on a circle so it's quite difficult. We finished ninth which was her first international rosette, so a good end to the week!
I then had a change the day after we got home as my sister, some of her vet friends and myself went to Thorpe Park for the day. We had a wonderful time and went on all of the big rides as well as the old favourites. There were some funny comments from Kate's friend Alicia at times as she had never been to a theme park before, but I think she enjoyed herself! It was also a nice break after our busy time at Hartpury."