Crofton Manor, Fareham, 6 January
Featuring riders Karen Shepherd, Lucy May, Ailsa Gunn, Georgina Marks, Lucy Pye, Alexis Ross, Kate Oppenheimer and Laura Taylor

PEPPERWOOD PARK’S Karen Shepherd was at Crofton rehearsing her nine-year-old Lusitano breeding stallion Esmerilhao Sernadin for his first High Profile show the following weekend. Although the partnership is only six months’ old, Karen has clocked up advanced medium scores around the 70% mark in just a handful of outings. At Crofton the pair scored 69.48% for their Advanced Medium 91.

But the rider has her sights sent on the big time. She explained: “I want ‘Merlin’ to compete internationally so I can’t spend all year fannying about! I will put him in a big atmosphere at Addington — and see how he handles a sleep-over. If I can retain his focus and the advanced medium goes to plan I’ll ride a confidence-giving PSG and be delighted if we get a clear round.

“He’s settled into his new lifestyle at Pepperwood Park and already he’s much calmer and less stalliony in warm-ups at shows. He doesn’t puff himself up and scream at everyone now.”

She added: “Over-the-back-and-through can be an issue with Iberian imports so I’ve been doing loads and loads of stretching and lateral work with him. He can still shorten sometimes in a test but the contact is getting better and better. Now he’s using his back properly, the hind leg is really coming through in the flying changes and they’re becoming bigger and more expressive.”

The majority of the winners at Crofton's efficiently-run and visitor-friendly show were people who combine dressage training and competing with busy full-time jobs. Eye-catching Bashful Suitor, is a first horse project for Lucy May who has a day job as engineering works access planner for Network Rail. They won the bronze section advanced medium 91 with 66.15%.

Lucy said: “We haven’t competed anywhere since July and as our arena at home is flooded ‘Sterling’ has had hardly any preparation. He always gives me 110 per cent but he felt like he was 'buzzing'.” Sterling who, she says, looks like a small warmblood is the result of breeding a gypsy cob mare to TB sire Blushing Groom. Lucy has trained him since he was four and he’s now 13. She added: “He’s never been ridden by anyone but me and he’s my first horse so we’ve learned together with the help of some really good people on the ground. I’m currently training with Sara-Jane Lanning.”

Despite flying changes not called for in the medium the combination of Ailsa Gunn and Force Ten Gale impressed test 75 class judge

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