Merrist Wood, Surrey, 8 October
A professional eventer steps nearer to his grand prix dressage goal, a cavalry man’s remount gets a glass of stout, a rider ‘thinking pink’ makes the judge smile, ponies make another adult convert, 'Doogie's' mum plays a waiting game and Frodo’s mum matches him in elegance. Also learn more about the art of training driving breeds...

EVENTER Dannie Morgan has taken to dressage like a duck to water since he first competed BD in January 2016 — and he takes the techniques of the discipline as seriously as big fences. He claimed second overall in the advanced medium scoring 71.83% in the silver section to gold rider Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dirubinio’s 72.17%.

Dannie is also blessed to have crossed paths with the talented 17.2hh Breitling x Furioso-sired Southern Cross Braemar who reinforced his ambition to get to top level competition in both dressage and eventing. This came about in true eventer fashion by 'Barry' being a tricky youngster with his former owner. Commenting on his freestyle, Dannie said: “We haven’t been to Merrist for a while so, although he was little bit tight in his back, I was pleased. I love my Jackson 5 music, especially the canter to I want you back, so I enjoy riding to it. It was a good mark but I know there is also a lot that can be improved in terms of way of going. Barry's such a big horse and still relatively weak for the level. It’s taken a while for him to gain strength, suppleness and cadence in the trot.”

Dannie and Barry were fifth in the silver advanced medium at the Nationals despite lack of preparation as, due to a cut on a hock, the seven-year-old had an enforced fortnight off and couldn’t be worked until just a few days before Stoneleigh. Dannie commented: “But Barry has such a good brain on him, he always tries his best for me.”

Dannie helps with the riding of the Headmore Stud youngsters, so also benefits from Headmore eyes on the ground. He adds: “Alice helped me quite a lot with our freestyle floor plan which is basically my medium one with quite a few flying changes added, because Barry’s good at them. The idea at the moment is to qualify and hopefully increase the degree of difficulty to be competitive at winter regionals.”

Holly Colgate-Hardaway rode two very different horses successfully at the show. Her star turn in the medium freestyle was overall class winner Dalvangs Lorenzo who scored 73% but she also produced a very creditable 70.33% on Eva and Shaun Measures’ compact, quick-thinking ‘Mincer’.

Last month Holly took 17.2hh Lorenzo to the Nationals and won the Elementary silver championship. She said: "He was really good there but didn’t like the plants in the pots flapping and so I had a spook. I managed to catch him and use that to my advantage and we had a brilliant medium trot afterwards."

In her Merrist freestyle, Holly boldly medium-cantered Lorenzo onto the centreline and aimed for a simple change at G. Holly commented: “You have to do something that catches the attention or you risk boring the judge.

"When I was little and when my mum Zoe (Colegate-Sopp) was competing her stallion King of Confidence she would always gallop down the centre line and halt just in front of the judges, making them sit back in their chairs! I’ve always wanted to do that, but I didn’t have Lorenzo quite collected enough and almost fell into walk, so it only got a 6.5."

Mincer, or Renoir, keeps Holly as quick thinking as he is himself. She admitted: “It was quite a challenge to ride Mincer after Lorenzo. I haven’t been riding him long and he can be a bit nervous and throw his legs around. I was impressed how well he behaved although we did have a blip in the walk by the door when he wanted to leave, but as it was a freestyle, I just continued in the opposite direction and carried on. It’s early days for our partnership and he is a tricky horse, but I now have him on-side 98 per cent of the time and he gives you such a good feel."

Holly reported that the judge liked her pink hat decoration, stock and jacket detail — but 'thinking pink' goes deeper with the rider

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