Pachesham, Surrey, 17 September
Featuring riders Sarah Ridd, Gary Hoult, David Rumsey, Laura Gordon, Georgia West, Krystyna Monks, Debbie Moore, Stephanie Jeffery, Debbie Deas, David Gunner and Briony Simpson.
A ‘£50,000’ driving horse reject, a Jazz-sired ‘sprinter’, a 25-year-old expelled riding school pony and an abandoned Spanish import — all competing at Pachesham — remind us that our equine is our red rosette. And also, at the height of the competition calendar, that dressage should be about making any horse healthier, happier and more beautiful.
FLAMBOYANT seven-year-old Harley Beau was partnered by Sarah Ridd to a 69.19% dressage debut win in the Novice 38 qualifier. Beau is owned by Mark Lloyd-Fox. Mark was at one time an eventer and then, after visiting Germany to improve his flatwork, fell in love with dressage and competed up to grand prix level in Canada and the northern USA. He was initially captivated by Beau, a part-Friesian reject driving horse, floating across a Suffolk field, tail over back, in 2013. Mark’s bill for £50,000 arrived some 18 months or so later…
B Jazzmin repaid owners Debbie and Terry Knight, and her rider Gary Hoult’s patience and dedication with 67.79% and 71.08% Advanced Medium wins and, more importantly, showed huge progress in terms of controlling her competition nerves.
Gary commented: "Her marks were good for her trot work generally — even the extended — and she got 8.5s for her half-passes. I’ve been taking her to the gallops at Parwood once a week. She didn’t have an extended canter before; just went up and down like a pogo stick. To get 8 for an extended canter today was amazing. She loves the gallops and is very fast. I wouldn’t bet anybody against her in a 60m dash."
The Knights have owned the 16hh Rhodium x Jazz 11-year-old since she was three and experience has shown that the high maintenance mare thrives best in a home environment. Asked why she has been so patient, Deb Knight mutters the word ‘love’ and then rationalises, “She's tricky but she is very talented and so we have tried different types of feed and relaxation treatments to help her.”
These include a Horseware vibrating rug over a photonic ‘red light’ therapy pad positioned in the area just behind the saddle. This was obtained from Catherine Edwards of ‘Naturally Animals’ and Jazzie has it on her before she is ridden. Debbie added: “Gary is so good with her. He never pressurises her, but just gives her confidence. [Trainer] Mark Ruddock said to Gary the other day, ‘you’ve just got to tell her with your body that everything is okay and stay relaxed'. Gary knows that riding her forward rather than backing off helps her to feel more secure. With Jazzie you have to find her ‘off’ button, put your leg on and ride her through it.”
The Medium 61 silver section was won on the modest score of 65.66% by long-time Training the Teachers of Tomorrow Trust (TTT) member Debbie Moore riding her attractive Spanish horse Ligero XXX.
Debbie commented: “Ligero’s always amazing at home where he focuses on his work but he finds competition environments intimidating. He can shorten his neck and drop his back; it’s disappointing and it makes him appear less supple. When we have the right connection he can do all the movements much more fluently and feels quite ‘oiled’.
“Ligero is 16 and I’ve had him since he was nine. He has always been an extremely nervous horse to the point of being totally irrational in his behaviour. But he is the most gentle soul and lovely to work with. He’s very special to me and there is a very strong bond of trust between us.
"I’ve been a TTT member virtually since it started and trained my first youngster with them up to PSG. I now work with a lot of remedial horses but as a freelance trainer I’m happy to help whether the goal is to compete or it’s just about the horse’s well-being.”
New Forest pony Furnace Bright Spark moved up to Medium in June 2017 aged 25. With his rider of the past two years Debbie Deas, ‘Shadow’ or ‘Shad’ has already achieved a plus-66% personal best at the new level. At Pachesham, a run-through before the Oldencraig Area Festival second round, Debbie was reminded that errors of course can be costly. Despite the hiccup, Shad obligingly waited while his rider sorted out the floor plan in her mind and happily continued. Debbie said: “His attitude is amazing. He has been a godsend because he’s kept me going and given me so much pleasure and fun through my ups and downs with my own pony Charm of Narnia who was finally put down in January.
"When I took him on he was doing Novice and Elementary and I intended just to hack him and do the occasional show at that level. Never in our wildest
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