Step Aside (Belmoredean), West Sussex, 2 November
Featuring riders Kay Maxted, Pip Blain, Lovisa Olen, Daniel Timson, Cheryl Hammerson, Joanna Henbrey, Sally McLean, Stella Gibbs, Tina Pardew, Jackie Selway, Thomas O’Brien, Zoe Sopp and Alice Knight

NAUGHTY Feiner Fritz seems to be taking his competition responsibilities more seriously since he became one of Kay Maxted’s top competition prospects with the retirement of her grand prix veteran Privaldi. Fritz extracted a 65.79% Inter I from Kay’s fellow international rider, the List 1 judge Dane Rawlins, who commented to Kay from the box ‘Really nice horse’!

Kay Maxted and her husband Geoff have always taken a horse on holidays abroad with them, rather than a bucket and spade. She recorded her first international GP with Trapani in 2003.
Commenting on Privaldi, above, Kay said: “In the six years Valdi’s been at top level he’s won three international GPs and three Specials on the Continent. He’s put me on a British team and he took me to the Lyons World Cup Qualifier — I owe everything to that horse.
“He did his first international GP with me in 2011 and, aged 20, we’ve won a few grand prix together in 2017.
“I wanted to retire him still sound so that he can enjoy himself and although he didn’t like being out in the field as a baby, he’s loving it now”

Kay agreed: “Fritz is a super horse, but at the moment marks can range from a four to an eight.” Kay retired him from one of the last Hickstead shows of the season when his naughty side was definitely to the fore. Kay explained: “He got upset because he’d had to walk through a puddle, so since then I’ve been going around finding puddles for him. He can do most of the grand prix work a bit at home and if he settles he will be a very good grand prix horse, but he has to get used to going out.

Kay bought the 16.2hh Furst Heinrich x Donnerhall gelding 18 months ago from a dealer in Denmark. She continued: “He had been taught all the tricks but lacked basic education and hadn’t been anywhere or done anything. He was a very bad traveller to begin with and my husband Geoff had to change our lorry partitioning from herringbone to facing forward because he would fall down!”

Kay trains with Emile Faurie: “Tom Goode at Emile’s took him out for me the first few times and both of them have helped me a lot with him. Fritz will go back up there later this winter to work on his grand prix.”

Pip Blain and Donatella IV are already making progress at their new advanced level. At the end of October at Merrist their first Advanced 100 attempt scored 64.86%. This time in a pick you own class the tally was just under 68%. Pip commented: “The changes generally were better and the tempis looked better on the video than they felt: that’s part of my learning curve to assess when it’s good and when it’s not while I’m riding. Roo definitely felt more confident and she was a lot bolder. The next step up will be to do an A102 or 105!”

The silver section winning horse in the same class, Patricia, was a powerful presence in the indoor school, and scoring just under 64% for their advanced medium 85, there are surely heaps more marks to come. The substantial Crelido x Comeback II eight-year-old mare is just under 18hh, and an exciting prospect for her 24-year-old Swedish rider Lovisa Olen.

Lovisa found Patricia rising four at Hasse Hoffmann’s yard in Denmark. She is now based with trainer Sune Hansen at Spring Hill Dressage near Heathfield. She said: “Sune has been very patient with us and he’s very supportive. This is only Patricia’s third outing this year. She’s a lot of horse when she explodes, but she’s not a heavy horse to ride. She can do the work at home but at competitions she’s been very hot and tense. This time, despite moments of miscommunication, she allowed me to put my legs on and ride her.”

The advanced medium 92 qualifier was won on a best-yet 70.81% by Tucker Anderson’s Bellagio under Daniel Timson. The combination went to the Medium Winter Championships and they have made just three appearances since to compete at the higher level. Daniel said: “I’ve been working on getting the flying changes more established and the canter more collected so we can move on to advanced level and PSG . It’s a big step up when you move on to tempis and pirouettes.

“Bellagio’s taking to the work really well. The only challenge can be his active mind, but I see that as an advantage. He wants to do the job and he’s naturally active but he has to have the strength to balance everything.”

Daniel also headed a very competitive Medium 73 qualifier gold section riding his own Dresden Mann-sired Dirty Harry to win first place with 72.94%. Not far behind the pair, on 72.35% were Cheryl Hammerson and Dimaggio 12-year-old Dimondez.

Cheryl is always an interesting study because her rides are often less than perfect dressage models. She says of Dez: “He’s not strictly croup high, but what he does have is a high wither and his back is lower than his croup which places you in a ‘bucket’! He’s also pigeon-breasted and has the tendency to anchor his shoulder down.

“And you wouldn’t believe how lazy he is. The relationship between us has taken 

Cheryl: “There’s a funny posture issue with Dez that most people don’t notice but judges do.
“He gets a bit short in the jowl area: he’s light in my hand and uphill, but he hasn’t wanted to take his chin and his poll forward.
“Most horses relaxing in the stable will drop their neck down and relax their bottom lip; when Dez is relaxed he tips head back and stacks the neck vertebrae upwards — he finds that the easiest way to balance himself!
“We worked on this problem on my last session with Damian Hallam. I told him that judges say that I’m not letting him go forward — which is not the case and quite upsetting — I’m not holding him!
“Damian says it’s a question of suppleness and teaching him that he can stay under with his hind-legs while releasing his neck. I must unlock the neck then speed-up the hind legs and keep repeating that until the horse realises he can do both at the same time.
“Damian said that if I can get him to accept that I’ll get the extra neck length the judges want. I felt I got it this time”

taken a long time to develop. If he doesn’t look lazy in his tests, I see it as a compliment as he will take every opportunity to just rest a leg. I used to say to myself, ‘I just want three steps where I don’t have to ask’.

“It’s a basic principle that a horse must go forward as a starting point. The horse not only has to go forward physically he also has to be forward in terms of his attitude and be committed to taking you forward. That is something I thought I knew and logically I understood but did not insist upon sufficiently. If I’d had that at the beginning, our journey might have been easier.

“Most people wouldn’t have persevered with Dez. He’s been the most frustrating article but we have come a long way together. I’m fond of him and I’ll never lose what I’ve learnt with him.”

Stella Gibbs returns to affiliated dressage
The highest score in the Elementaries was achieved by Stella Gibbs riding Marilyn Turner’s Copperfield Ellie Mae. The pair’s 67.07% headed the Test 43 class on their debut affiliated outing. Stella said: “I was delighted because I haven’t done any affiliated dressage for five years since my old horse Rescue Remedy retired.”

The seven-year-old homebred combines Welsh, TB and Danish bloodlines. Stella added: “I first saw Ellie floating across the field at a day or two old and I helped Marilyn back her. Right from the beginning under saddle I was impressed with her balance and her canter felt amazing. We plan to enjoy ourselves and improve with the help of trainer Robbie Carpenter. There’s no pressure, we’ll just see where we go.”

Do you remember your first horse? Unless it was as a care-free small child, Becky Kew’s story will bring it all back! Joanna Henbrey took the reins of Sandro Summer in the Elementary 59, as a confidence booster for both the horse and his usual rider Becky.

Becky explained her reasoning: “At shows he looks to me for confidence and I look for it from him, as I’m so inexperienced. I wanted him to have a nice time as he’s now at a level where the work is starting to push him quite hard. It also gave me confidence to see him in the arena with Jo, my long-time friend and trainer, and compare that with how he goes for me. I’m not a competitive person and I used to feel bad that ‘Goofy’ wasn’t progressing. With Jo’s help I can move on in my own time and enjoy what I’m doing without any pressure.

“Goofy’s my first ever horse and it’s been a dive in the deep end after just riding different horses a few times a week. When you’re the only person riding the horse, your issues become the horse’s issues”

“You feel the pressure and the responsibility but it’s also been rewarding. He’s the perfect horse for me, a new owner, as he’s so forgiving. I can make the most idiotic decisions and he’s there doing it for me.  At the Pachesham Area Festival he was tense, so I gave him his head. He’s usually very well-behaved but I ended up on the floor and as Jo commented after, it was 100 per cent my fault!”

‘Farmer’, aka U River Dance, is back out on the lists after having a summer off due to an undiagnosable ‘not quite’ lameness. Rider Sally McLean, competing him in Elementary 59, won the silver section on 65.16%. She commented: “Touch wood, he’s come through whatever was wrong. When I started training him again I focused on getting the basics right and doing ridden physio with lots of stretching and flexing. Having had a problem makes you re-assess things, like his age, he’s 17, so I now give him longer to warm-up than I was doing previously.

“Farmer’s quite a short-coupled horse and gets a bit sore in his lumbar region so I put a hot water bottle on his back to warm up that area before I ride” 

“I’ve learnt to take everything a lot slower. I’m at the point now where he needs to take more weight behind but I’m not prepared to rush him. It’s about how he feels on the day. He felt really good and supple in his test. It was like an early birthday present to win [birthday three days later].

“I’m quietly looking for a next horse. I don’t want a youngster, because I haven’t got the time or energy — and it hurts when you fall off. ‘Farmer’ found me and I often think that’s the best way.”

Crabbet Wood Stud, Limpsfield-based Hot Spot GW won the bronze section Elementary 43 under Tina Pardew. The elegantly marked coloured Dutch gelding is by Haico (Haarlem) out of a Jazz mare. Tina said: “I bought him a year ago and he’s now eight. We qualified for the Petplan finals at Novice and this was only our second Elementary test. We did a few flying changes in the first one when he was being spooky but he can do counter canter. I think he’s quite trainable — just an anxious boy— so I treat his first tests as part of our warm-up.”

Tina who has had a career in nursing, added: “I’m now doing what I would like to have done as a teenager and in training with Mark Ruddock we’re starting the shoulder-in and half-passes for medium.”

Jackie Selway: “As well as Ernie, I’ve still got Shere Indulgence who is working harder now than ever.
“He was always very tense at shows but I love training him and we have lessons with Rhett Bird. We’re doing grand prix movements — even though putting them together in an arena is another thing!
“Rhett, who is based in Warwickshire, comes to us at Hollister Farm in Shere and gives clinics in our indoor school on Tuesdays every three weeks or so and anyone interested in training with him is welcome to contact me”

Jackie Selway, who continues to compete Shere Dreamboy at Novice, could well have a future star on her hands. The Dream Boy x Houston eight-year-old is only 17hh, she thinks, but his body size looks expensive to worm! Known as ‘Ernie’ he is stablemates with Jackie’s sister’s much lighter and smaller ‘Eric’.

Jackie and Ernie have only been out some half-dozen shows this year and compared with when last seen he has developed some impressive cadence. Jackie commented: “He is a big horse and so we haven’t done much with him because he hasn’t been able to carry himself and he was just pushing himself onto his forehand. I’ve had to wait until he gets stronger but the ability is all there. We’ve turned a corner in the past few weeks and he’s starting to come up in front and have more suspension is his trot and his canter is improving, too.”

Thomas O’Brien and Zoe Sopp were each introducing interesting young dressage horses to competition for their owners, Abu Dhabi-based Al Shira’aa. Al Shira’aa is already heavily committed to the world of international showjumping and became Hickstead Derby sponsors in 2017.

At Step Aside, Tom rode Krack C x Hotline six-year-old Vilan who stands a leggy 18.1hh — a good match for Tom. At the moment, their medium performance can show some wobbles, but Tom who trains with Sarah Millis commented: “Vilan’s incredibly talented. We’ve only had him four months and have just been getting acquainted. The ride is improving very quickly now.” [The pair scored 70.57% in the Elementary qualifier in front of Nereide Goodman at Wellington the Monday after this show.]

Zoe partnered 17hh four-year-old Temptation x Come On-bred Tacoma Dreams and they won the novice 22 with 70% and their score included an 8 for paces. Speaking of the mare, Zoe said: “Dream has big loose, but not exaggerated, movement. She’s one of the most balanced young horses I ever remember riding, but because she is only four and she finds everything easy you have to remind yourself not to rush the training.”

Furstano, previously featured on this website, is now the ‘first horse’ ride of East Sussex-based 13-year-old Alice Knight. The 16.2hh Furst Piccolo x Brentano schoolmaster has been fortunate enough to have passed through some skilled dressage hands, including Hayley Watson-Greaves and most recently, Sara-Jane Lanning.

Alice has already produced 70% Elementaries on Furstano this Autumn but at Step Aside, the 7.5 stone rider and Zebbie dipped toes in medium waters together for the first time.

Mum Wendy commented: “He’s one in a million because although he knows the party tricks like changes and passage, he’s very kind and allows Alice to take him down the levels.”  The hope is that Alice and ‘Zebedee’ may be able to compete in ‘Children on Horses’ classes.

© Celia Cadwallader, 11 November 2017

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