Exciting News & Hoping for a Wildcard

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by Olivia Whitelaw

I'm very excited to tell you all that following the GB British Dressage Pony Viewing day in September, Leo and I have been invited to be one of the Pony Prime Squad Reserve Combinations for 2017, with some truly lovely feedback from the Pony Selectors who seem to be delighted with his progress over the last few months. With so much depth of talent across this years selected Pony Prime and Progress Squad and reserve combinations it’s a very exciting time for our sport, and so we are looking to training hard over the winter. I loved my time last year on the Pony Progress Squad and learnt so much, it seems almost unbelievable that having had Leo only for a year, and with him being so young we have made it up to the Pony Prime squad level so quickly. With the exception of only one other pony, all the ponies within the Pony Prime squad and Pony Prime reserves have competed for GB previously, so Leo will be amongst some amazing company – let’s hope he watches them all and learns lots!

Having qualified earlier in the year, last week Leo and I went to one of the Petplan Area Festival’s being held at Arena UK in Lincolnshire, with the aim being to try and qualify for the National Petplan Championships held early in 2017 in Hartpury. We were competing within the Medium Silver category and with a class of 19 riders, only the winner was to qualify automatically. Leo had never been to Arena UK before, and because our class was held on the Friday, a school day, we were unable to go early to do the arena walk, so that I could at least get to do the morning at school. We therefore were unsure as to how Leo would handle a completely new venue, which had been dressed with many flower arrangements for this regional championship – but I need not have worried, despite his having his eyes out on stalks he soon relaxed and did some great work, interspersed with some fairly shocking walk pirouettes…one of these days we will crack them!

Anyway, on a positive note despite our pirouettes being very much work in progress we scored 70.5% to take second place, only a few marks off the winner who themselves was an International GB Junior Rider. I was so pleased with the score and the placing against some very strong company within the class. As you can see from the video Leo loved the trot around the arena post the prize giving, he was not at all keen on having a rosette attached to the bridle so that’s something new we learnt and now have to practice at home too! We now have to sit and quietly wait until the New Year to see if Leo and I are lucky enough to be awarded a Wildcard for our class at the Championships, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

The next few months will be training, training and more training, really focusing on teaching Leo suspension within his trot work, interspersed with a couple of trips out to try and get our Regional Qualifications and our music qualifications concluded, will update you all soon.

Olivia

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