Comeback post-injury, balancing equine mind and power, novice/trainer sharing, riding with an international career — or starting one in dressage — all take determination

ACHIEVEMENTS, expectations of future achievements — and past histories — accompanied winners into the arena at Parwood, Surrey (17 May). Michelle Nichols, attempting her first advanced medium on SJL Dom Perignon, led the advanced medium pyo with a 70% test 85.

‘Perry’ who has competed successfully in qualifying outings up the levels, has so far failed to make the ‘curtain call’ on the bigger stages. Michelle has had the Don Primus x Raphael eight-year-old for three years. She explained: “It has taken that long to understand him and I only now feel that I can really ride him. He’s a lovely person but when it comes to training he’s quite complex. He has a lot of naturally energy — great as I’m told for the grand prix work — but containing it has been a challenge because our ideas don’t always align. That’s why in the bigger show atmospheres he’s not had the confidence to show what he’s capable of and boiled over.

“I’m based at Kilbees Farm, near Windsor. Sune Hansen, who comes once a week, has been our calming influence. In the six months we’ve been working together I feel the horse has moved on quite significantly. We’re working at PSG at home and without Sune’s help I don’t think I would have made such a big step forward.

“Our advanced medium pyo was just testing the water to see how far off the mark we are and what the judge thought of him at the level. It’s probably a bit late to qualify for regionals but he will contest them at medium again where he’s very confident.

“Changes are still quite new to him because I’ve held off doing them due to his temperament. I’ve been saying ‘no’ to them for perhaps too long as I’ve wanted to keep the counter-canter secure for medium competitions. Once they’re established I think advanced medium will be an easy level for him to compete while we continue to work on PSG at home."

Owner Jill Wood’s hopes for her six-year-old Royal Blend x Matcho AA 11-year-old mare Revenue not only lie in the arena but also in the paddock and the potential patter of tiny hooves!

With rider and trainer Jade Deter, Revenue was gold section winner of the mediums with 69.24% and 67.87%. Jade commented: “She worked really nicely. I haven’t competed at Parwood before and I was impressed with the facilities and will definitely go back. Hopefully they’ll run some higher-level classes there in the future as well."

Jade explained that Revenue has a third job: “Jill also rides her. While she learns to do dressage on her and competes at prelim, she wants me to move the mare up the levels. The challenge in training Revenue is finding the right balance for both of us. She’s a very consistent horse in the arena, although she can get a

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