Glorious Weather for the Regionals & Fantastic Results!

With the end of the summer qualifying season finally came some glorious weather and also Hartpury festival of dressage which incorporates their CDI, a premier league and the Shearwater young dressage horse championships. As a result we were very busy and set off with 6 horses and 3 lorries with Jess, our groom, for what we knew would be a rather manic week! Luckily we have some very helpful and understanding friends who were willing to assist us in transporting the horses, thank you Anne, Nicky and Karen, it would have been a nightmare without you! We really need a bigger lorry!

The first day held an Inter I for Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) and the temperatures were already rising! She warmed up fantastically and I was feeling really confident going into the ring. Unfortunately Bracks had other ideas, but that's horses, particularly chestnut mares as Erik (Theilgaard), my trainer, said! Del (Headmore Delegate) sailed through his trot up that evening so was all set for the start of the International the following day.

Friday brought with it even warmer weather (not that I'm complaining) and a very early start as we had been told that arena familiarisation for the young horses was 7am. You can imagine our dismay when the stewards told us it had been changed to the evening! Thankfully they were understanding and said we could stay out there that morning as long as we didn't bring them back out in the evening to ensure that everyone had the same amount of time, sounded fair enough to me!

I had been drawn first to go in the Grand Prix, which was Mum's fault as she had been pulling the numbers out of the 'hat' at the draw. We asked for a bit more expression and had him more jazzed up which meant that we scored some 9's. Unfortunately we also had some very costly mistakes which kept our score down at 66.5% for 7th place. I was thrilled with the scores from the foreign judges, nearly 70% from the german judge and nearly 69% from the Polish judge who was president for the Grand Prix. I think I need to be brave now and take Del abroad as I think the judges will love him!

That evening we had a lovely meal with Tank's (Headmore Wimoweh) owner, Joanne Graham Whelan, and her friends that also came down to wtch him. We hadn't seen each other since Hartpury last year so it was lovely to catch up and fantastic for Joanne to see Tank again, we had sent her some videos but they never look quite the same as in the flesh!

We had another early start on Saturday as we had four young horses to compete, the first one (Robin, Headmore Ddirubinio) was in the ring at 7.30 am! We were thrilled with how Robin went but were very dissapointed with his score. He is not yet strong enough to really show himself off, the judges wanted them to be more established. Nevertheless we were thrilled with how he went and he had a good experience at his first sleepover! Socs (Tantoni Sir Socrates) was on next in the 6 year olds. His owners had also been able to make it and we were thrilled when he finished 3rd, especially as he is not as established as some of the other horses! I finished with the 5 year olds, first was Mischief (Tantoni White Mischief) and her owner, Becky Hulme, had finally been able to make it down to see her as well, third time lucky as the last two times they have been intending to come something has come up so they couldn't get there. We were pleased with her but she is not very established so struggled a bit with her balance in the test, but that will come with strength. Tank was the last to go for me and he felt super in the warm up. Unfortunately something spooked him as we turned off the centre line but he settled well and the rest of the test was super. I thought the judges may have forgiven that as it is a young horse class, but they didn't which was a real shame as Tank showed some lovely work throughout the test.

By the final day we were all shattered! We had to change Bracks' time in the PSG as it clashed with Del's GP special which meant that we had to go right at the beginning of the class which kept our score down. It was like riding a different horse to her previous class and, despite a mistake in one pirouette, finished 6th in a massive class! Our final class of the show was the Grand Prix special. It was the first time Del had done the test and only the second time I had ridden it, so I was just hoping to get round! We had some better work than in the GP but there were also some mistakes due to our inexperience, and I went wrong which didn't help, although only one of the five judges noticed! We scored just below 65% for 4th, so when he is more established and we can iron out the mistakes we should be capable of really good scores! Roll on 2014!

With the summer regionals looming just around the corner we thought we ought to give the horses that were going a bit of practice! The weather has been absolutely glorious, albeit a bit of a shock, I can't remember the last time we had an actual proper summer!
We started off our preperation by taking Socs (Tantoni Sir Socrates) and Roxy (Headmore Roxanne) to Pacesham. Although my times weren't until the late afternoon/ evening it was still rather warm so I cut down my warm up as I didn't want to wear them out in the heat! We were very pleased with Socs, he is much more established and confirmed at medum now and he won both his classes. Roxy was very ring rusty in the first test as she hadn't competed since she qualified but by the second test she was more settlled and won the advanced medium.

A couple of days later we took Roxy out again to Fair Oak Grange for another medium and advanced medium. She was much better for having been out earlier in the week and won both tests. They were the regional tests for her and it's nice to know that she can go round them with relative ease, particularly the advanced medium which was the hardest test she has done.

Socs also had another outing to Merrist Wood where he did one of the best tests he has done. He was very rideable and we even scored an 8 for a walk piri! He was awarded nearly 73% so I think that both horses are now well prepared for the regionals.

As the glorious weather continued, must be the UK's longest ever hot spell, the summer reginals crept upon us.

Roxy, Headmore Roxanne, was the first to contest her regionals at Sparsholt College. It was the first time that Sparsholt had held a regional which is fab for us as it is just down the road so with Merrist Wood for the winters and Sparsholt for the summers we are sorted!

We were the penultimate competiitor in the medium on Wednesday. Roxy warmed up well but became quite nervous in the test as Sparsholt looked different to normal so we finished 9th, which I was slightly dissapointed with but she is still quite young. The following day we went back for the advanced medium and I was hoping that she would be more settled as she had already done a test. We were also the second last competitor in this class, my name was obviously very heavy, but it made up for being drawn first three times at Hartpury! She felt much more relaxed than the previous day and we were thrilled with the test, despite the few green mistakes in the canter work as it was only her fifth advanced medium. Despite this she still finished third and qualified for the nationals so we were over the moon, especially as it was only her first season at advanced medium.

Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) was also supposed to be going to contest the PSG and Inter I but she unfortunatly came down with a bacterial infection and wasn't very well so missed out. I was gutted and it is a real shame as she will now miss out on the Nationals, but it is more important that she recovers so is fit for next year, poor Bracks!

We then took Socs (Tantoni Sir Socrates) to Keysoe for his medium open regional as we hadn't wanted to put two horses against each other. We knew he was capable of qualifying but he is still very green at medium so the regional test is hard for him at the moment, we nearly didn't qualify him as we weren't sure he would be ready! He warmed up well despite the indoor warm up resembling an oven! I was thrilled with the test even though we had a few green mitsakes and I was even more thrilled with a mark of 72.1% despite the mistakes to finish behind Michael Eilberg by just one mark. I have to be honest though, I was a bit gutted as we would have won convincingly without the errors, but hopefully we can iron those out before the final!

So we now have six out of six horses (excluding Bracks as she missed her regionals) qualified for the Nationals in Septemer, five of them on Saturday morning so we may be fairly busy! I am actually quite relieved that Roxy was a bit nervous in the medium otherwise it may have been six which does seem slightly impossible! I am very much looking forward to it though!

Alice

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