Step Aside (Belmoredean), West Sussex, 22 February
Featuring riders Jenine Jones, Rachael Hawkins, Joanne Curling, Suzanne Lavandera, Joanna Henbrey, Rebecca Gibbs and Heidi Reed

JENINE JONES’s competitive career has been re-energised by new ride Keystone Rock Chick. Jenine, who was making her debut on the 16.1hh black version of sire Rhondeo, won the silver Elementary 57 qualifier on 72.14%.

Jenine bred the Rhondeo x Depardieu eight-year-old mare but sold her to her friend Tracy Cooper as a youngster. Until recently Rock Chick was being produced by Luke Baber-Davies with a view to being sold. Jenine said: “I have been riding her since around Christmas and I think Tracy has decided that she loves her too much to sell!

Rachael Hawkins won the silver section of the FEI pick your own class scoring 67.89% riding the inter I test on 19-year-old Don Antello for only the second time.
Rachael commented: “Antello has done a lot of PSGs in his time and knows it so well that it helps doing a test where he doesn’t anticipate movements — this was a problem particularly in the extended trots and canters across the diagonal.
“He hasn’t been out since the beginning of December when we went to the high profile at Keysoe, so he was really hot in the Belmoredean warm-up but when we went in to do the test he seemed to relax and listen to me.
“I’m try to ride him through situations like that by doing lots of different lateral movements to get him thinking about his job rather than panic.”
Rachael is currently working on the Belmoredean yard and plans to start start studying Business and Finance at Sussex University in September

“Tracy and I are able to give her more time than Luke now that he is so tied up with Tracy’s Drummer Boy and other Premier League horses. I train mainly with Suzanne Lavandera but Luke gave me some tips how to ride her more up and forward in her neck. She can be quite buzzy so I need to focus on keeping her relaxed and working through her back. It was a shame this show that we got stuck in traffic so only had a 15-minute warm-up for our first test. Rock Chick needs half an hour to relax through properly so there were a few mistakes. With the additional warm-up her second test was much better. She got eights for canter work and her leg yields. She also scored an eight for medium trot. Suzanne says she has about 12 different gears but she still has to learn which ones she should be in.

“The aim is elementary and medium regionals this year. We don’t want to rush her. She can do a lot of the tricks but she needs to be more established in her basic work. She is so willing it would be easy to keep pushing and pushing.”

Stepping up to PSG
Rhondeos these days are getting a bigger share of the attention that comes with the success enjoyed by his Keystone ‘brother’ Dimaggio’s offspring. Rhondeos, however, are reputed to be easier for amateurs to produce. Joanne Curling, who won the advanced medium 92 qualifier on 67.84%, will be competing Keystone Renaissance in both the medium and advanced medium Petplan Finals in April. Joanne combines an 8am to 5pm day job with keeping ‘Mika’ on DIY livery at The Dover Stables, near Arundel.

Joanne commented: “I was really happy with how Mika went today. He’s getting the hang of the flying changes. They were good in his test. We also had good half-passes and a lovely rein-back. He was very off-the-aids so I was able to be accurate.”

Joanne describes Mika as “a sturdy little chap who works very hard”. She added: “Mika is 11 this year and we’ve taken our time to allow him to gain strength. I’m glad we did because that’s paying off now and the past couple of seasons he’s progressed quite quickly. He has come into his own at this level because he finds the lateral work easy and once he understood what we wanted him to do he took the changes in his stride.

“We haven’t had to go out much over winter because we’re doing Petplans at Hartpury so we’ve just focused on training. His canter pirouettes are coming on and I would like to step up to PSG this summer. My plan is to do the summer regionals at advanced medium and do Petplan PSG. Then we will probably stick at that level for a little while.”

One of the last Rhondeo stallions?

Another Rhondeo to watch out for is Rhomio, bred by Suzanne Lavandera out of a Dimaggio mare.

A chestnut like his maternal grand-dad, Rhomio is now part-owned by Pippa and Matt Odell. The seven-year-old has only been to a dozen or so shows but Suzanne has said that being more Dimaggio in type he has taken time to mature. They won the gold section novices on 69.38% and 67.88%. (Image below taken in June 2017.)

She commented: “He feels more educated and worldly this season and is happier being a stallion among other horses. He’s very reliable and genuine and has three gorgeous paces with an amazing extended trot. He’s lovely in the hand and can really sit in the canter, so the advanced work is going to be super easy for him.”

A year ago Suzanne was thinking she might have to part with “Duke” because she has so many youngsters to ride, but last March Pippa came to her rescue. Pippa said: “Suzanne said, ‘someone is coming to look at Duke’ and I replied, ‘Suzanne we need to talk’. I always loved his father and nine years ago in the summer when I first walked the fields at Peppers Farm with Suzanne I had said that I would like a boy by Rhondeo.

“We never found one then and Duke was one of the last he sired, so I said, ‘I don’t want him to go’. Suzanne also competed and won the gold elementaries on Pippa’s Keystone De Muro with 71.03 and 72.68% scores.

Still uncut ‘on probation’, Rhondeo son (x Breitling) Rhonderful Dorrels strutted his stuff last summer. He was bred by France-based breeder Jane Philo and is seen here being competed by Kirsty Mepham. He may come out this season as a six-year-old ridden by her pupil Rachael Hawkins.

PSG is also the goal for Rebecca Gibbs and former 2* eventer Tally It Up. The pair have been Upping their dressage game together over the past two years. Their latest success saw them silver top-scorers in the day’s pyo advanced medium/advanced class in which they produced 67.5% test 98.

Rebecca commented: “I was very pleased with my serpentine and flying changes. It has taken me ages to get it right. My trainer Damian Hallam has been helping loads. He’s told me ‘don’t rush it, give yourself plenty of time’. He calms me down and makes me think about what I need to do, then I can do it. He has also helped change my mental attitude: where once I would have thought, ‘that will do’, he says, ‘no, it’s not good enough’ and he makes you do it again and again until it’s exactly how he wants it.”

Rebecca competes British Eventing at advanced level and has some big dates in mind for her top horse De Beers Dilletante. However, she re-routed Tally towards ‘pure’ dressage when he stopped enjoying the jumping: “He has improved my eventing dressage because he enjoys it. When you’re sitting on something that wants to do the job, it makes it a lot easier. Tally has also made me a lot more confident. He’s a bit of show-off and you know when you go down the centreline on him that he’s there with you listening and waiting for you to ask.

“Damian is trying to get me to PSG this summer so I’m going to go for it and somehow combine my family, eventing and dressage”

(Note: image dates from 2016.)

“Tally is an Irish Sports Horse by The Artist (an Irish cob really, but we don’t say that too loudly in his presence). “He’s 15, but very supple and good at half-passes and has fab medium and extended trots.”

Two other riders have their sights set on PSG. Joanna Henbrey acquired a serious warmblood prospect last year, SJL Zandor (Blue Hors Zach x Romanov) but is happily taking her time producing his talent while playing with her “toy boy” DCF Jelly Bean. He is a solid-bodied, short-legged grey cob believed to be of Irish extraction of no recorded breeding.

As Joanna rightly observed, “the cob” scoring 67.43%, “came within whisker of winning the advanced medium 92 qualifier”. And he will be going to Hartpury for the advanced medium Petplan Finals on a wild card.

Jelly Bean combines public appearances with a day job at Deen City Farm, SW London. When Out and About contacted his “agent” Joanna Henbrey, she said: “Jelly Bean is [just the boy next door] a genuine riding school pony. He has two lessons tomorrow: one with someone who can walk, trot and canter;  the other is a lead-rein, complete beginner. As well as his lessons, I ride him myself about three times a week. He keeps on improving.

“Having two different sides to his career doesn’t seem to faze him. He’s a Jekyl and Hyde, switching from bumbling around to doing more advanced work where he has to put in more effort quite easily. Possibly his riding school job is a form of ‘endurance’ work-out? The two work styles seem to complement each other: he’s an easier ride in the school and he would never challenge the children in the way some ponies would. But I don’t get on and feel that I have a job to get him to do higher level stuff for me. He has got a lot fitter over the past year and no longer runs out of steam at the more advanced level, although I only do one test at shows.”

Another combination who have PSG in their sights are Heidi Reed and her Welsh D, Ilar Vincent. Heidi successfully combined advanced dressage and eventing with her previous partner The Merchant of Venice (Iago) and hopes to do the same with Vinnie whom she is also aiming at the 2018 BE90 Mitsubishi Motors Championship at Badminton.

“Vinnie loves all the collected work and is very good at canter pirouettes. It’s the push through in the changes that he struggles with at the moment and show tension doesn’t help”

The duo made their advanced medium debut at the Step Aside show. Heidi explained: “I train with Char Lassetter and just before Christmas she said, ‘go out and do some advanced mediums. We know it’s not going to be perfect, but Vinnie being the way he is, needs to get a few under his belt’. I can then consolidate and finally polish them. He has a thing about push-chairs and it was unfortunate that there was one beside the warm-up on this occasion.”

Heidi, a BHSI and BHS examiner, keeps Vinnie near Haslemere which gives them easy access to hacking on Blackdown Common. She concluded: “My tailcoat has been hanging in the cupboard since I had Iago. It’s fun to try to take Vinnie up the dressage grades and I want to wear that tailcoat: I won’t do that if we don’t compete.”

© Celia Cadwallader, 3 March 2018

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