With a little bit of help from my team

With a little bit of help from my team

Saddlesdane, Kent, 6 August
Featuring riders Jersey Garrett, Katie Radzik, Hannah Knight, Emily Atkins, Suellen White, Ruth Wollerton and Kathryn Ovenden.

ALL RIDERS benefit from a friends and family support team but Jersey Garrett, 13, also has reason to thank the Mary-Horn-inspired coaching and mentoring scheme* set up earlier this summer as she has been selected as a Mark Ruddock "mentee".  Jersey posted one of the highest scores of the day at Saddlesdane riding Mimi Macfarlane's 14.2hh Welsh pony, Crowide The Talisman. Jersey has had "Alfie" on loan since November. They scored 76.87% to win the novice 23 overall. Jersey said: “Alfie's very good at dressage although his previous rider preferred to jump him which he loves. I jump him, too, because he enjoys it, and I know I can rely on him to take care of me!

"The score we had today was the best we’ve had in affiliated dressage. His rhythm and steadiness throughout the test were very good. I find it easier to keep the same tempo if I ride the whole test in sitting because I’m aware if he’s getting faster and so our scores are improving."

For para equestrians a team effort is essential. Katie Radzik and Lollipop recently returned from the Bishop Burton Para international where they were top-scorers in all their CPEDI2* grade V classes. At Saddlesdane they gave a 72.33% reprise of their medium freestyle which scored 67.7% in front of five judges at the international. Katie’s mum Stephanie compiled the duo’s freestyle music to a floor plan devised by Lollipop’s owner and Katie’s trainer, Joyce Wood. Joyce also suggested that the first music track had to be the decades old but still foot-tapping "Lollipop".

Katie was born with cerebral palsy ataxia and has an extremely short-term memory so that she needs a commander even for freestyles. She also has physical problems affecting her muscle control and balance. In future Katie expects to be competing at the more disabled grade IV level which approximates to elementary — but she likes to push herself out of her comfort zone. Katie said: “I do like a challenge and I’m practising to do an advanced medium. My dream is one day to ride for Britain."

Well-known Kent-based Southern Team combination Hannah Knight and Knights Parnashe produced the second-highest-scoring freestyle with 70.83%. At the Home Internationals last year they were members of the first-ever winning Southern Team and Hannah was second-placed young rider at medium level.

Unfortunately "Parnie’s" 2016 summer campaign came to an end when she suffered a check ligament injury that required four months’ box rest. Hannah has brought her slowly back into full work and the 16-year-old Parlando mare is being aimed at winter regionals at medium and medium freestyle.

Hannah said: "I had my music done by Julie Geraghty of Equivisions and the floor plan was designed by grand prix rider Steph Croxford. Steph definitely didn't make it easy for me and it’s taken a lot of training. Parnie’s very obedient and responsive but when she doesn’t understand something new, and things go wrong, she throws a tantrum. Once she’s learned something you press the button and she’ll go, so we pick up marks that way."

Hannah also has a youngster she is bringing on for local Three Chimneys Trakehner breeder and owner Marion Fuller. Hannah explained: “British Dressage RDO Sharon Walker gave Marion my name when she was looking for someone to do him justice. He’s by sire Le Rouge and known as ‘Boy’. It wasn’t nice that Parnie had to have time off, but it did give me the opportunity to bond with him.”

Emily Atkins,15, and her first horse Findon Zenpierre have notched up 14 wins in just 12 outings, including their qualification at Pachesham for the second round Petplan Area Festival. At Saddlesdane the pair produced 70.68% and 69.84% elementaries. Emily commented: “Pete’s work is getting a lot more consistent now we’re competing regularly and he’s got over the spooking.”

She added: “I still need to keep practising my centreline halts. He’s quite wobbly and he finds it difficult to sit on his bottom going into a halt. Once we’ve sorted our music out, we plan to qualify for the elementary freestyle Winter regionals then move up to medium. He can do shoulder-in and travers and we’re working on half-pass — and he’s been able to do walk pirouettes since he was a baby. He seems to be preprogrammed for most of the work and doesn’t get worried when you try to teach him something new.”

Another competitor at Saddlesdane with a valuable network of friends was Suellen White who won the bronze section elementary 43 on 68.44%.

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