Step Aside (Belmoredean) 29 June
Featuring riders Hollie Lewis, Carolyn Butler, Caroline Eaton, Elaine Wilson, Harriet Mercer, Rowan Bryson, Charlotte Blain, Nicola Rapley, Hannah Powel, Suzanne Lavandera, Ed Creamer and Caroline Exley

LUSITANOS ridden by Hollie Lewis and Carolyn Butler held the top spot in both the gold and silver sections of the 11 combinations-strong FEI pick your own. Both horses are in ‘training’. Hollie is training gold winner Canhoto Laranjeira in the correct way of going and acceptance of contact to become Carolyn’s future grand prix ride — and Carolyn’s husband Robin’s Zelador is schooling Carolyn in the lightness of aids that she will need when she takes over.

Hollie Lewis is still recovering from complications associated with a Giardia infection picked up on holiday in India, which required a stay in hospital. At one point she was unable to walk and is still battling with reactive arthritis.
She said: “I had four and a half months off and I’ve been back riding for about two months.
“I’ve been training Canhoto for about a year in all as he’s had a lot of time off, too. His way of going has hugely improved and at times he’s really taking the hand and I’m confident it will get better. We’ve just done loads of transitions within, and in and out of a pace: making him wait so he listens to the leg aids, and keeping my hands still so that he takes the bit.
“We steered clear of piaffe for a long time, but we have started doing a bit now — just bringing him back in the trot, so that he doesn’t associate it with the walk. His trot is getting some nice cadence and he’s become much more powerful. It’s quite a shock when you get off him. You’re not aware how small he is, only 15.1hh, because he feels more substantial.
“My aim is to make Canhoto a similar ride to Zelador so that Carolyn’s transition to Canhoto is as smooth as possible”

Carolyn, with her PSG just 0.4% behind Hollie’s 68.16% inter I, explained: “Canhoto’s not a stroll in the park yet and very green. When he arrived from Portugal two years ago it was almost impossible to make him walk and he couldn’t concentrate for more than half a second.” The nine-year-old Canhoto is a highly reactive ride, unlike her first Lusitano and first dressage horse Xerife who over the past six years has enabled her to go from elementary to winning at small tour. But Carolyn explained: “Xerife is so lazy I have to do a lot of everything, if I was to over-ride Zelador he would probably fall over! He’s teaching me to stay very quiet and use light aids.”

Caroline Eaton is also working towards a grand prix goal, with her immediate aim being to qualify for the European Iberian Dressage Masters (MCI) championships in Paris in the late autumn. She has been riding Lusitano stallion Neve vip (pronounced Nevé) in Premier League small tour this season. At Belmoredean they went hors concors in the rider’s first-ever Intermediate B, scoring over 66% from List 1 judge Sally Merrison.

Caroline said: “I was not well- prepared for the test, but I decided to have a go anyway as a run-through for the Lusitano Breed Show MCI qualifier at Moreton Morrell at the weekend. [Christian Landolt who judged the MCI qualifier, Caroline later reported, was tough but gave an insight into the standard that can be expected in Paris: “It was a wake-up call. You can’t be mediocre, you’ve got to be good at everything.”]

Neve is well-used to the international stage — a couple of years ago he was in the same class at Hartpury as Nip Tuck and Valegro! See ‘Thank you Eva Klautke for my world class Luso’

PYO bronze winners Elaine Wilson and Ebabelou scored a very creditable 65.66% on only their second attempt at PSG. Elaine and eight-year-old Balou looked in a hurry in the warm-up. She explained: “She can drop off the leg very quickly so I was trying a new way of warming up. When I’ve got her a bit sharper, I can collect her and have her better off the aid.”

Elaine: “I was pleased with our 65.66% mark for the PSG which included a mistake in the fours and I agree with the judge’s comment about balance”

The former horse trials rider started competing her Indorado x Indoctro (show jump-bred) mare at Novice in November 2015, qualifying in just two outings for regionals. Elaine said: “I feel a bit guilty because she has come up the levels so quickly. She has a lovely temperament and copes with it but she’s a big girl and needs to get stronger.”

Elaine trains with Jezz Palmer, formerly based at Paul Friday’s Warwickshire yard, recently returned to his home county of Hampshire. Elaine, the ‘galloping granny’ said: “The nice thing about Jezz is that he teaches me like I’m still 16: he’s not shy about pointing out if there’s something wrong with me, my riding, or the horse.”

It was a day for ‘greys’ to sparkle. One of them was Harriet Mercer’s cob Moody Blue, clearly relishing his higher education. Harriet and Blue’s mission that day was to step up to advanced and they scored 64.06% for their first ever Advanced 100 in a pick you own class.

Harriet said: “I was thrilled because we actually got a clean, properly through change for the first time. Because of his conformation he finds changes quite hard and will go croup high but he always tries and he loves his work.” Harriet spent almost her entire warm-up session riding shoulder-in and travers to help the horse with suppleness through the back and with engagement. She added: “He’s not as confident as you might think and his nerves mean he needs to go back on the lorry for a pee before he does his test. This time he wouldn’t and I could feel he was holding himself.

“Jane Cannon my trainer has been fantastic helping us to be able to get changes. They are good at home and the day before Belmoredean he worked so much better, so now we just have to work out his show warm-up routine and how long he needs to be on the lorry to get comfortable.”

“We never thought Moody Blue would get to advanced medium and we take each day at a time but we are now hoping that we might be able to get him to PSG. That’s my dream”

Several horses at the show were perfecting their new advanced medium show performances. Rowan Bryson who has ridden just five, won the silver section advanced medium 98 qualifier scoring 68.68%, following a 69.59% medium 75 warm-up. Rowan commented: “‘Larry’ used to be a bit behind the leg, but I can jazz him up now and get him quite hot. The changes have helped [the impulsion] but they’re not always spot on. When I first started doing them he used to leap into the air, change, then come down on to my hand, then chuck his head in the air. The solution has been to ensure that I don’t contain him too much when he leaps. The changes have improved since he’s become stronger and more confident. He’s also working through his back better and allowing me to sit into him more in a bigger trot, rather than shortening and passaging.”

Pip Blain and Jan Palmer’s 11-year-old Donatella IV got to the recent Pachesham Area Festival with just two advanced medium sheets to their names and won their class, but Pip said: “I wasn’t expecting such good scores at Belmoredean today. ‘Roo’ hasn’t been here for well over a year and it’s one of the places where she’s been a bit nervous, so I did an 85 first to test the water. My aim was to ride a test 98 for the first time and I was expecting around 64% but we won bronze sections in both classes with over 67%.

“Our 98 wasn’t without mistakes. We had a giant miscommunication in the walk

sequence and transition to canter, right in front of the judge, and we had an explosion in the flying change at the end of the first long canter half-pass. After the melt down she was a much more relaxed horse. I stopped her, picked up cantered again, and proved to myself that as long as I can keep my cool, I can keep riding. It shows how much more mature she is now.”

Nicola Rapley, warming up on Londoner. She competed all three of her horses at Belmoredean, remembering four different tests, scoring two silver section wins, plus a second and a third in mediums — and a first and a second at advanced medium.
“I was exhausted but I had help: my mother or my daughter are very good grooms at shows”

After many years in dressage wilderness David Hunt-trained Nicola Rapley is in the enviable position of having three talented horses to compete. They are her two leggy homebred eight-year-olds, Romassino and Scolari’s Glory, and the more stocky 12-year-old Londoner. Scolari reached the Nationals in 2016 and the 2017 Winters at elementary. This time at Step Aside he won the silver sections of both mediums with plus-71%.

Nicola bought Londonderry x Weltmeyer-sired Londoner as something to ride while her youngsters were growing up and at a bargain price. Nicola: “He was eight but apparently there had been training issues earlier in his life so was ‘chucked out in a field’. I’ve managed to keep training him at home but he kept injuring himself so I only got him to his first show last November [at advanced medium level]. He was spooky last time he competed in an indoor arena, at Merrist, but here he was taking the contact and travelling round the test” — without looking for ghosts.

Nicola discovered only one problem with her bargain buy: “He was in a double when I tried him and I found out why — he gets his tongue over the bit in a snaffle.” She has found a hanging cheek snaffle or bridoon helps her with all three horses, giving her the contact and control she wants in the arena.

Hannah Powel and 17.2hh eight-year-old Show Dance have also benefited from a double bridle. The pair were 69.66% and 67.66% silver section winners of the elementary 43 and 59.

Commenting, Hannah said: “We’ve had him in a double for about four weeks. Before I was creating all this energy and it was going flying out the front door and splat onto the ground. The double encourages him to take weight back and pick his front end up. He’s a saint in a snaffle but with someone small like mum or me we can stay lighter in the hand.  He likes to feel that you’re in charge: it gives him confidence and if you are in charge he can cope, but if you’re wishy-washy he gets a bit emotional.”

Looking for a new owner: Pippa Matthews’ Keystone De Muro who was competed by Suzanne Lavandera on one of his first show outings, producing gold elementary wins on 72.59% and 70.94%.

Pippa’s business commitments and knee surgery mean that the nine-year-old on which she has enjoyed many hacks in the past, is turning his De Niro x Sandro Hit talents towards competition. Pippa said: “He owes me nothing. My priority is to find a good home with someone who will be the right match.”

Ed Creamer gives confidence to head trauma horse

Smallfield, Surrey-based List 1 Judge Marion Terry chose Haslemere-based trainer and rider Ed Creamer to help restore her 10-year-old Conexion’s confidence.

Ed Creamer — partnering Conexion at his first show since 2015 — winning the gold section non-qualifier novice on 70.63%. They also took second in elementary non-qualifier on 71.72%. Ed says he starts his warm-ups with Bertie literally on the buckle. Judge Carol Stothard speaking after their novice commented: “Ed just smiled and relaxed and gave the horse confidence”

She explained: “‘Bertie’ hasn’t competed since the end of 2015. He had become practically unrideable and went to Liphook twice for investigations. My vet told me he was a head-shaker but I knew he wasn’t, because he reacted far more on the left rein, and always twisted his head the same way: his ears to the left and his nose to the right.

“I don’t trot on the road a lot except up hills but the concussion from the movement on the hard surface made him dangerous. It was like driving a car without steering. I had told my vet that I was convinced there was a problem in his poll.

“On his second visit to Liphook they did a full-body bone scan and found a hot spot at the poll and went on to discover a scar about 2cm-long. The conclusion was that he had banged his poll at some point resulting in very deep-seated bruising but that it was resolving itself. About October last year he was definitely better and a friend introduced me to Ed and he’s been riding him recently about every week or 10 days.

Horsham Riding Club secretary Caroline Exley and Copperfield Iris won the bronze sections of the elementaries, scoring 66.88% in the qualifier. Caroline said: “That was our first go at the 59 so I was pleasantly surprised at the marks. We often get comments on how obedient and well-mannered she is, but she is slightly croup high so I also get comments that we need to get more engagement.

“She’s a Welsh section D and bred by a friend. I bought her as a four-year-old as a mother-and-daughter share. She has been a prolific winner at Pony Club and Riding Club competitions. She’s now 13 and as my daughter has moved on to other interests  — and I couldn’t bear to part with her — I affiliated her BD at the end of last year and thought, ‘I’ll have ago’.”

© Celia Cadwallader, 7 July 2017

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