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Brendon Stud (Pyecombe), West Sussex, 16-17 June, 2016
Featuring riders Kerry Mackin, Sharon Edwards, Harriet Mercer, Laura Greenwood, Hannah Knight, Luke Baber-Davies, Rachael Hawkins, Louise Ritchie and Southerly Roberts.

“HOT AS HELL” was Kerry Mackin’s succinct summing up of Zatterhorn in the warm-up before competing in the advanced medium 98 qualifier and turning in a 71.32% test and achieving one of the highest scores of the two-day show at Pyecombe. Kerry had been away just prior to the competition and the day of the show, she explained, “was a bit stormy so I didn’t turn him out in the morning to settle him and give him a leg stretch as I usually do. He was hot as hell to start with but after 10 minutes or so I was able to turn it into positive energy — which is a bit of a corner I’ve turned with him. He’s now allowing me to ride his body and the judge loved his half-passes and extensions and also gave us some eights for changes.

Margaret Drewe, who was at C, said after: “You could see he was looking at things at times and I wondered whether he was going to explode and I know in the past Kerry has had to ensure that she remains in control. He’s very talented but today it was the best I’ve seem him go.”

I have several horses to compete and as Rivaal belongs to my mother there was no pressure to get him back out to shows. I spent more time on way of going: strengthening his core muscles to ensure he was lifting his back by doing raised pole work, lots of hacking and, particularly, lots of genuinely connected stretching. It’s no good just having the head down. You have to be really strict on yourself as a rider that you’re not just going along with the reins flapping. You have to activate the hind leg from your seat and from your leg so that you have the engine motoring forward into the rein. I worked on that connection in walk trot and canter with probably what I’d describe as a “half” long neck. On the bit and with the wither up, if it’s down the horse is not stretching their back, then it’s pointless.

Sharon explained, “I have several horses to compete and as Rivaal belongs to my mother there was no pressure to get him back out to shows. I spent a lot of time at home working on way of going: strengthening his core muscles to ensure he was lifting his back by doing raised pole work, lots of hacking and, particularly, lots of genuinely connected stretching.
You have to be really strict with yourself as a rider that you’re not just going along with the reins flapping. You have to activate the hind leg from your seat and from your leg so that you have the engine motoring forward into the rein.
I worked on that connection in walk trot and canter with probably what I’d describe as a ‘half’ long neck — on the bit and with the wither up, if it’s down the horse is not stretching its back and it’s pointless”

Cool as cucumber, Jenny Edwards’ Romanov x Rubinstar 12-year-old Rivaal was piloted by Sharon Edwards to head both advanced mediums the day before with solid scores of 70% and 68.29% at the horse’s first show for 18 months following an injury, see right. Sharon said: “He’s always been very hot to compete and has not changed entirely but he’s come back a lot calmer.”

Always in the mood for work
COB Moody Blue will always score top marks from his rider Harriet Mercer for his effort and attitude. Harriet competed him at advanced medium and won the bronze sections in all four classes on offer over the two days, starting with a 66.91% advanced medium 85 and 64.34% 98, followed by a 64.47% test 96, and rounding off his achievement with a second plus-66% advanced medium 98.

HarrietMercer&MoodyBlue2smallHarriet said: “The only issue we have is his changes. Because of his stamp — long in the back and short-legged — he finds it hard to lift his body, but he thinks he’s one of the big boys and will try his heart for me. He’s 15 but I don’t think he realises that.

“We gave him the whole of last year off, because we felt he deserved a break, but he’s come back into work, ready and eager to learn. We’re established at medium but are now going up to a new level for both of us. We’re lucky to have trainer Alison Short on the ground and she’s helped so much with different exercises to help with suppleness. As well as lengthening and shortening exercises to get the weight back, we do canter leg-yield into counter canter and then shoulder-in [renvers] as preparation for the change to get him to release through his body and allow the new inside leg to come through.

Alison Short also trains Laura Greenwood and 14-year-old Dunvullen Clovers Hero who won bronze section elementary 53 qualifier on their first British Dressage affiliated outing with 66.32%. Laura explained: “Originally I wanted to event ‘Archie’. He’s bred to jump and he has a cracking jump but he injured himself three or four years ago. He came in lame from the field after the hunt had come through unexpectedly. He damaged a collateral ligament in a front foot, so getting him right has been a long process. We have spent most of the time since rehabbing him. We started training with Alison 18 months ago and we have a good partnership going between the three of us.auraGreenwood&DunvellenCloversHero2small

“I was a bit disappointed with our score, but the Paris arena at Pyecombe is in an amphitheatre and Archie gets a bit shy when he goes on stage and sucks back into himself and is difficult to get forward. But I also learned a valuable lesson the following day when I was eliminated in the elementary 45:

“I was doing test 45 during heavy rain and forgot where I was going and panicked. That was my lack of ring experience and I won’t do that again!

HannahKnight&KnightsParnashe2smallFlying changes everywhere
Knights Parnashe and her rider Hannah Knight posted 71.21% and 66.62% mediums. Medium has become slightly more complicated as Parnie has also been out at advanced medium this summer: “She loves changes so much that she throws them in everywhere,” Hannah explained. “I don’t allow myself to be tempted to do them when I’m warming up for medium tests. In the medium 75, a test I’ve never ridden before, when I rode the 20m half-circle in counter-canter, I was careful to sit very quietly and not to move my seat. She listened and stayed on the counter-canter lead. I was riding quite cautiously and wasn’t asking for too much collection because she was treated by the physio three days before. She had put her pelvis out because she gets very excited when she does flying changes and throws her legs everywhere.”

Hannah’s 15-year-old mare by Parlando was fifth in the medium restricted Petplan finals in April and sixth in the elementary restricted freestyle. Hannah and Parnie are stalwarts of the Southern inter-regionals team.

LukeBaberDavies&JaspersmallLuke Baber-Davies has picked up another ride for an owner, Katy Davey, who is a friend of his own Keystone Disaronno’s previous owner Sinead Fenn. Katy’s showjump-bred Jasper won the gold section medium 69 with 69.7%. Luke told Out and About Dressage: “Jasper is eight but when I got him less than a year ago, he couldn’t do a circle in canter and just went long, low and on the forehand. He’s got better and better and about two or three months ago he found he could put himself together and collect so we thought we’d bring him out for some experience. As I don’t like the ele tests I decided to do the medium. He’s green at that level but he’s found lateral work and flying changes easy. Katy rides him twice a week and he looks after her but I can hot him up and he’s developed some lovely cadence in the trot.

Sean Burgess rode careful elementaries on future star Keystone Can Doo recording gold section wins on 70.86% and 67.14%. Despite the novelty of new surroundings and the stormy weather, the outing was the positive experience for the horse that the rider was after.

Rachael rides her schoolmaster Don Antello to score 64.47% in the advanced medium 98. Donny’s coming on but I’ve got to learn to let go, because he gets strong if I hang on but I’m not used to such a powerful forward horse. I think he will be nice once I’ve got the hang of it and our scores are improving. Rachael also competed Fre’re Jacque at Novice. Jack has been a bit naughty recently. Rachael said: we discovered that he wasn’t quite right physically and that’s been sorted out now, so there was a reason for it. He just wouldn’t go forward. Hopefully everything is now all right. He’s freer now and we got eights for medium trot. I finished our summer qualifying with our 69.14% score”

Rachael Hawkins rode her advanced schoolmaster Don Antello, above, to score 66.97%% in the advanced medium 98 behind Kerry and Zatterhorn. She said: “Donny’s coming on but I’ve got to learn to let go. He gets strong if I hang on but I’m not used to such a powerful forward horse. I think he will be nice once I’ve got the hang of it and our scores are improving.”
Rachael also competed Fre’re Jacque at Novice. Jack has been a bit naughty recently: “We discovered that he wasn’t quite right physically and that’s been sorted out now. He feels freer and we got eights for medium trot and completed summer qualifying with our 69.14% score”

A new name on the local circuit, Louise Ritchie, recently moved down from Scotland to work for Andrew Gould. Louise explained: “After university I had a ‘normal’ job, but decided that what I really wanted was a career with horses, so I came south for the greater opportunities available.” She competed her own Lingh x Ferro nine-year-old mare Coconita and won the gold section of the first day’s novice 22 with 71.72%. Louise said: “I’ve had Coconita since she was four but she’s been a bit of a stop-start project. I was at Pyecombe getting my last points for regionals. I plan to sell her as I’m hoping to get some of Andrew’s younger horses out to competition at some point.”

Fiona Mackay owns the promising eight-year-old grey Wurlitzer Fair, who won the prelim 17 qualifier gold with 67.88% ridden by Southerly Roberts. Fiona explained: “He’s 17.2hh and so has taken time to mature. I bought him last September as a dressage horse for myself but he’s turned out a bit more challenging than I thought so I have someone a bit braver than me competing him until he feels more confident.”

SoutherlyRoberts&WurlitzerFair1small

British bred by World Fair, the showjumping stallion, Wurlitzer Fair is being aimed at a career in dressage with owner Fiona Mackay

 

© Celia Cadwallader, 1 July 2016

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