Cobham Manor, Kent, 12 March
Featuring riders Katie Radzik, Amy Widdows, Charlie Grieve, Nicky Harrison, Tania Dahdi, Maria Collins, Natalie Chapman, Sarah Jepheart and Jake Poynter 

SOUTHERN’s new para rep Joyce Wood’s horse Lollypop was a star of the show on her debut with grade V para rider Katie Radzik. Katie and Lolly produced 71.03% and 69.11% to become double overall elementary winners. Katie was born with cerebral palsy ataxia that affects her core strength and fine motor skills but puts her in the most able-bodied of the para grades. However, she also battles with severe short-term memory loss.

Her mum Stephanie explained: “Riding is second-nature to Katie because she has been doing it since she was four. She learns by constant repetition, but she cannot remember a test and never knows until she enters the arena which test she’s about to do — so relies on her caller. Katie said: “I’ve been riding Lolly since last year. I love her and she’s such a character. You can tell by her face what she thinks and she’s very tolerant when I’m trying to learn new things.”

Charlie Grieve, 15, and her nine-year-old Dutch pony Mandor van de Groenhelivel produced a show stopper of a pony FEI freestyle which was an HC practice run for the Keysoe International in a week’s time. It was rewarded with a round of applause from the spectators. Charlie commented: “I last rode it at the Keysoe CDI last year and it was a disaster because they were having trouble with the music and they had to restart mine three times before I could do my test.

“The floorplan was worked out for me by my trainer Leanne Wall and there are a lot of movements away from the track including shoulder-in on the three quarter line. It really highlights your straightness." The music included a vocal for the walk, sung by Charlie, who has sung at important family occasions.

Charlie now has her own horse, Espirit, on which she won the silver section Elementary 53 qualifier with 67.79%. Charlie said: “We looked at horses that were a lot more expensive, but we bought her as a project to work on and to go back to basics with. 'Effy’s' quite thoroughbred-looking at the moment and not very strong, but she has a very good temperament. There were lots of potential spooks when I tried her — a railway crossing, a tractor, horns sounding and rustling woodland, but she took it all in her stride.”

Amy Widdows and Hortons Pink Panther, for many years stalwarts of the very successful Moat View Riding Club Quadrille team at Olympia demonstrated some of their knock ‘em dead performance skills. They scored 70.76% in the elementary freestyle to a floorplan and music compilation by Mary-Anne Horn which involves lots of flowing circles and curved lines.

Amy said: “I love freestyles and ‘Kuba’ does too. The music and an audience lift him up. We do a lot of circles because he can impress with his suppleness in flexion and they give me more control. He’s not naughty but he can take over, it’s ‘hold on mum I know exactly where I’m going’ — so although we do everything, it’s his version not how I wanted it.

"Kuba can canter almost on the spot and do tight circles so he has often been at the end of the line in quadrilles, but because he's so brave he has also led the Moat View troupe and I can set him in a pace and leave him alone and keep track of where everyone else is."

There were a number of plus-80% sheets handed out at the show but these were due to calculation errors. Such errors occur at all shows from time to time when staff are under pressure. Best advice is, always check your sheet — sometimes your score should be higher!

High Chaparral-sired thoroughbred High Office, who last raced in 2015, is one of Virginia rider's racehorse to show or dressage horse projects. The 11-year-old is being competed by Tania Dahdi and at Cobham Manor they achieved 72.22% in the novice freestyle, one of their best results to date.

Sheppey-based Nicky Harrison is anticipating an exciting year with three horses to compete. She has Mona fit after recovering from surgery for an ovarian tumour and back out competing at medium, and hopefully advanced medium soon, too. She also has two youngsters that she is training and starting up the competition levels. Her own Connemara, Oakside Master Fergus and Jan Woolgar's "dream horse":

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