Success at the Area 9 Competition by Alex Harvey
My name is Alex Harvey. I am fourteen years old, live in Wiltshire and am an active member of the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club. My horse is a 15hh, fourteen-year-old-bay gelding called Frank. I have had him for two years and we do everything together, including hunting, eventing, dressage, showjumping and Pony Club activities.
After a successful year at Pony Club Novice last year, we are now working at Intermediate level. In every training session and in the warm-ups before tests, I do lots of transitions and circles to keep Frank listening and supple. I qualified for the Dengie Area competition in the Novice and Intermediate tests at Rectory Farm in Gloucestershire last September. In 2015, we missed out on getting to the finals by one collective mark, so this year we are hoping to go one better!
This year, we finished our hunting season in January to focus more on our flatwork - we have to stop this early as Frank is rather enthusiastic about his hunting and takes some time to settle back into dressage! To prepare for the Dengie Area competition, we have been having regular lessons, particularly working on our weaknesses in the tests. We have also been out to some local competitions to ride some tests in competitive conditions. I have focusing on trying to lighten Frank’s forehand as he is built a bit downhill! He tries very hard, but can get very upset when he gets told off or if he feels I'm nervous, so I have to try to ride him very quietly.
At the Area 9 competition, we were entered in the Novice and the Intermediate classes. Frank warmed up very well, which was a relief because our practice the day before had been rather wild! In the Novice, we scored consistently but some of the movements were just marred by tension through the neck, causing him to drop behind the bit. When the scores were up I was really pleased to see that we had been placed third on 71.6%, which was enough to qualify us for the finals at Addington!
Next was our Intermediate test. I felt a bit more relaxed for this, knowing that we had already made it to the finals, but I was really keen to qualify in this class if we could. Frank warmed up well again, and I kept it quite short as he had already done one test. We had a broader range of scores in this test, with a poor mark where we broke from the first canter a shade too early, but had some great scores for the walk steps and canter loops. This was another big class and I wasn't sure that we had done enough as the standard was pretty high, but I was really thrilled to be placed 2nd on 70.34% - we had qualified in this class too! I had to decide there and then which class I wanted to ride at the Championships, so that my other qualification could be passed down the line. I opted for the Intermediate because I have only just started competing at this level and I wanted the challenge! I am really looking forward to going to Addington in April - lots more training to do before then!