Merrist, Speedgate and Parwood, 11-16 March 2023
Younger riders were on winning form at shows across the south in a week that also saw some of our more seasoned riders and horses make their comebacks into the arena
THREE GRAND PRIX within seven days have confirmed Hicks Equestrian-based Dylan Deutrom’s senior rider partnership with San Marco. Dylan immediately put a 62.83% ‘car crash’ test at Myerscough premier league on Sunday 12 behind him and the following day rebuilt confidence at Wellington with a 69.35% win. He then rode his first ever plus-70% grand prix at Parwood.
Commenting, Dylan said: “San Marco hadn’t been out since the Europeans in August when I rode him in the U25GP. The GP test comes up thick and fast. You have to know the test and then find your way around it. We restored our confidence with the win at Wellington and confirmed it at Parwood. We can build on that in the coming months. I still have a lot to learn and Marco needs to become stronger.
Another combination with a strong fan base, 22-year-old Megan Turner and hackney Plains Timeless, were at Parwood scoring 67.35% for their debut PSG. This followed a 69.61% overall win in the Advanced Medium 91.
Megan said: “I couldn’t be more happy with that PSG mark! Even though ‘Toby’ thought he could count better than me it was so good to feel how willing and confident he was doing tempis in the arena. It’s one thing to do them at home but shows are a different sort of pressure.
“We always get high marks for our trot work and as he’s become better balanced the transitions are looking smoother all the time. He had a 7 for his first canter pirouette and although he lost some activity and scored a 6.5 for the second one, pirouettes will be where in future we can show off because he can sit so well behind.”
“Everything about him is hackney, including his brain, but over the past few years he’s come into his own. You ask him the questions and instead of having a melt down, he says, ‘okay, I think I can do that’.
Megan who started riding Toby when she was 13, trains with Char Lassetter and more recently has also had input from Nicky Pasco. Commenting on her journey, Megan said: “When I started out with him I didn’t know anything and he knew nothing, so we’ve grown together. He’s taught me to be patient and to persist and, at the same time he has been so rewarding.”
“He tries so hard but if a movement goes a bit wrong like the tempis I have to remain very calm — as if he’d done it perfectly — otherwise he panics and becomes stressed.”
Tegan Ball’s Woodcroft Magic Jewel showed his potential in the short arena tests at Merrist Wood where they followed a 70.16% Elementary 42 with a near 75% qualifier. Commenting on her personal best performance, Tegan said: “We’ve been working on producing our test trot and using his power and impulsion to lift his front end. We also scored an 8.5 for his free walk on a long rein.”
The powerful short-coupled Ferdinand x Davino gelding’s performance suffered from tension at the Wellington winter regionals when he took fright at the flowerpots. Tegan explained: “For the past two years we have worked more on building his strength with hacking, hill work and pole work than on competing. His hind legs are so active that the first six months I had him his legs were everywhere. He is only six this year and has the best of temperaments. I’m thrilled with him.”
Tegan, 18 last December, has set her sights on U25GP. She continued: “I’m trying to do lots of competing before Easter as I have A levels this summer but I hope to get him up to advanced medium in training by September. His lateral work is to die for. Anne Keen who judged us at National Academy camp recently says as long as I ride leg yields correctly and accurately I could easily produce a leg yield for a 10!”
Tegan, who was selected for National Academy this year, is combining her A level studies with a Diploma in Sporting Excellence at Hartpury.
Currently on the Foundation Academy Stella Fagerstedt was caught on camera riding Jigranta at Parwood recently. Moving on from their lower than expected scores there, they won the medium bronze classes at Fairoak Grange (11 March) on 67.42% and 66.77%. Stella said: “At Fairoak she perhaps took her weight back onto her quarters more. The test was more fluent and that was reflected in our marks.”
Jigranta, a Cover Story x Scandic nine-year-old mare, was found at Richard Barrett’s yard. Stella, 16, added: “Josie tries hard and that is why I like mares. They tend to put their all into it. She is very forward and has a big engine but she can struggle to collect at the moment. I think with her work ethic she has a lot of potential.”
What stood out particularly in the tests produced by 22-year-old Josephine Fenton and Kashan Maheer Ibn Montroze at Speedgate was the horse’s obedience and their harmony. They won the silver section of the Elementary 53 on 64.41% and went on to score 62.73% for their first medium. Josephine said: “I was very proud of him today and pleased with how easy and comfortable he was to ride.
“Everyone is surprised to learn how little experience I have. I started riding six years ago when a friend at secondary school introduced me to horses.” Bitten with the bug Josephine got herself a weekend job mucking out at a private yard. She met Kashan, now eight, as a rising two-year-old and at the bottom of the field pecking order.
She explained: “He was so sweet and wanted me to be his friend, so when his owner decided to sell him I bought him. I didn’t know that Arabs can be hot and sharp.
“I broke Kashan in myself with no clue what I was doing but he has a good brain and we trust each other totally.”
“I have struggled to do dressage with Kashan’s conformation but I put everything into ensuring that he has the best possible life and training outcome.”
Josephine chose a top Kent-based trainer and List 1 judge Leanne Wall to help her in her chosen discipline and, just under two years ago, got into competitive dressage via My Quest. She added: “And I also train with Emile Faurie. I was lucky enough to meet him a year ago when I took a slot that became available on one of his clinics in Essex.
“Emile has helped me learn movements and because Kashan’s built on the forehand he’s helped me to teach him to use his core muscles and engage his hind legs which is something we’ve always struggled with. I went to his training yard in Oxfordshire for a few days at the beginning of February and because Kashan was being difficult in taking the bridle he suggested we try a double and it’s worked like a dream and he’s much happier in it.”
Isle of Wight resident, UKCC trainer and now at 26 also an estate agent, Amy Hose is a frequent traveller across the Solent for competition and for training with Jezz Palmer. At Parwood Amy was competing her own elegant 17.1hh seven-year-old Enrique where he produced 70.97% and and 69.85% overall winning performances at his new level of elementary. Amy only got the Escolar x Florenciano late starter last June in time to qualify for the novice regionals but, placed second at Sparsholt, he took her to her first ever national championships in September. Amy said: “He has a lively mind and he found the Somerford experience mentally exhausting, so he went flat. There was an even bigger atmosphere in his Wellington arena at the winter regionals and out of the blue he had a melt down.
“My other horse Billingbear Rex is a rearer but Eric has been brilliant from the start. He has a great brain, not at all spooky, and lets me focus on riding my test. He also collects beautifully but after my experiences over four years with Rex I am perhaps still building my confidence to send him forward always.”
Amy also rode Hammerwood Sir Scrumptious scoring 67.08% in the Novice 23. The Woodlander Sir Gorgeous-sired five-year-old bred by and jointly owned with Pippa Drew has been with Amy since he was weaned.
Amy said: “We only backed Scrumpy last August. I back a lot of horses but the first time I cantered him I went ‘wow’. As he’s 16.1hh and I’m 5ft 10in I’ve decided reluctantly to put him up for sale. If I can find the right home that will be the right decision for him. Eric, who was bought for me by my godfather Nick Morrill to enjoy and excel with up the levels won’t be going anywhere. I adore him.”
Lindsey Dawes’ Fairoak Fairytale, ridden by her daughter Melissa Dawes this time at Parwood, won the gold section elementaries on 69.84 and 67.94%. The six-year-old bred by Lindsey is by For Romance out of her Inter II Trakehner mare Holme Park Silk.
“Buzz didn’t spook once and although he is still very green at elementary we had two great scores.”
Melissa commented: “‘Buzz’ is the spitting image of his dam but a nicer mover. He’s such a talented horse when he feels confident and happy but when there are flowerpots or sandbags he shrinks into himself. Mum has done all the training and last year made it her mission to get him out to see the world nearly every week. At last he’s beginning to gain confidence but Mum doesn’t have the leg power that I have and I was able to tell him ‘this is where you work’.
Lea Davies, who travelled a rocky road initially with tall and beautiful eight-year-old mare Kalypia, posted their first 70% test to win the Novice 23 silver class. Lea explained: “I had lots of training issues before we sorted out her problem: it used to be walk, trot and then hold-on-for-dear-life canter.
“We investigated her back and tried her on Regumate before we discovered that she had ulcers. As soon as we put her on AbSucralfate she became a different horse and I could start training her properly. She was almost a bag of bones when I got her but she’s now putting on muscle and getting stronger.
“I’m based with Nicola McGivern but I take Kalypia to train at lots of different places to de-sensitise her. We have just started in-hand work with Ryan Shannon and her talent for piaffe-passage is wow.”
Kalypia is by Sandreo but Lea believes her high knee and hock action comes from Gelderlander blood on her dam’s side. She added: “My previous horse went up to advanced medium but was never quick enough behind. With Kalypia I’ve now got the power I wanted!”
Happy returns to competition
Several horses and riders returned to competition over the past week following a long break. At Speedgate, Kent-based trainer Mariana Broucher rode Funny Finn at his first show for over a year, scoring 66.67% and 65.66% for their advanced mediums. Mariana said: “I took it easy today, and just aimed for nice calm tests. We had a few mistakes but Finn feels established at the level. We qualified for the advanced medium silver at the Winter Area Festival Finals in 2022 but didn’t go. Hopefully we will have another opportunity this year.
“I share him with his owner Julie Kinloch. We don’t know his past history but we think he possibly had a bad experience at some point. He’s come a long way in the six years that I’ve been riding him and he is no longer a stressy horse. He’s always happy to do his job and never says no to anything. He was not born to be an athlete but he has nice regular clear paces and I would love to take him out at PSG. As he’s 17 this year that is probably as far as he will be able to go.”
Nicola Rapley, formerly a regular competitor in the advanced classes through the summer season shows at Hickstead with Romassini and Scolari’s Glory, is back on the circuit with a new ride, Four-Tune. Nicola has owned the Foundation x Sir Donnerhall nine-year-old for two years. They won the Medium 61 overall on 67.76%. She said: “It was Four-Tune’s first ever show. He had some spooks at the benches and at the photographer at the gate but I could not have asked for more.”
Nicola who has a health issue and suffers particularly in cold weather, added: “My life has become easier since we have moved house and now have the horses at home. I have started training with Damian Hallam at his clinics and he will ride for me if I’m feeling unwell, so that we don’t miss a training session. I shall play it by ear but it would be nice to do the medium summer regionals with Four-Tune and I’ll also be bringing Scolari’s Glory out again soon.”
Two good scores for the mediums at Merrist Wood confirm the strength of the partnership that Inga Diggens has been dedicatedly building with Camiro II. The pair produced some big scores at lower levels at the start of their career together back in 2017, but Inga says that it has been a long haul to produce the dressage horse he has now become. She said: “Aero is 18hh and built like a cruise liner. He’s a lovely boy but sensitive and takes all his confidence from his rider. He has always been spooky and difficult to ride forward and there were a few incidents that knocked my confidence.
“Fortunately, when I moved to the Selways’ yard near Dorking I met trainer Roddy MacDonald. Working with him we have been able to build Aero’s strength. The connection was still very difficult until we adopted a double bridle about a year ago and since then I’ve been able to engage his hind legs and make progress in his training.
“Over the years, we’ve not only developed his strength physically but also the strength of our partnership. Occasionally Aero will still throw things at me if he perhaps notices that something has been moved in the school, but Roddy keeps saying to me, ‘don’t get drawn into the drama’ — I mustn’t take notice of him noticing. We know each other now. He tries hard for me and when he understands what I want he tries even harder.
“I was pleased that we managed to produce something that looked like half-pass in both tests at Merrist instead of grinding to a halt: he’s allowing me to ride the movement forward now. I intend to get out a bit more this year and I’m hopeful that we will continue to progress.”
Commenting on an exuberant 18-year-old Lipizzaner, Pluto Batosta, Ruby Lewin said: “‘Picky’s very enthusiastic and is happy to be back out again.”
“The vet who came to make one last check on him before decision time said it was a miracle!
“He had got a significant amount of his vision back in both eyes.”
Ruby first competed Pippa Bassett’s former driving horse at novice in 2020 but, soon after achieving a third place at elementary bronze at the Winter Area Festival in January last year, the rider had a fall. She said: “Last year was a roller-coaster. First I fractured my collar bone, suffered nerve damage in my arm and fused vertebrae in my neck from my fall, then, just as I started riding again, Picky went three-quarters blind in both eyes. Neither the antibiotics, nor the high dose steroids, nor the ointment I was putting in his eyes three times a day was working. By October, with still no progress, it was time to decide whether to put him down. The vet who came to make one last check, turned round and said, ‘it’s a miracle! He had got a significant amount of his vision back in both eyes!’
“Once we got the all-clear to start riding him again my trainer Craig Messenger helped me to get him fit and rebuild his lost confidence. There have been a lot of backward steps but finally we have got him to the stage where he has enough confidence in himself and is going well enough to go back between white boards and down the centreline.
“I wasn’t bothered if Picky got the worst score ever, I just wanted him to go round happy and confident. He was a bit hesitant about the differences in light in the indoor warm-up but he was able to take confidence from me.”
© Celia Cadwallader, 21 March 2023