Success at the Area Final by Will Bower
My name is Will Bower and I am seventeen years old. My ambition is to represent the Great Britain in adult senior international competitions and I am aiming at the under-18 and under-21 national squads, with a view to getting the necessary experience to achieve that. I love competing and am currently out and about locally at showjumping and dressage competitions. In the eventing season, competitions take me all over the country most weekends with much appreciated support from my family. I live in Barnoldswick in Lancashire, where my family owns a smallholding.
I joined the Pendle Forest and Craven Hunt Branch of the Pony Club aged five, soon taking part in my first jumping competitions. Although I am the youngest in the family, I was always determined to do whatever my brothers and sister were doing, only better! Gymkhana competitions and even leadrein jumping rosettes were hotly contested.
I represented Northern England with Polly (Easy Feelings) in the BENu18 competition at the national championships held at Weston Park in October 2015, when the team finished 5th, and will be looking to compete in a number of CCI* international 3 day events with her this year. I am aiming to move Lola (LSF Lux Good) up to Novice after a couple of BE 100 runs in the early part of the season and working with the our less experienced horses, Wesley (Moon Money) and Rosie (Primitive Primrose), at BE100 level.
Dengie Area Sales Manager Jo and Performance Horse Nutritionist Claire have visited the yard to weigh the horses and help us with their diets. All the horses are now fed Dengie Alfa-A Molasses Free and Alfa-A Balancer, which provides plenty of slow-release energy without heating them up and also provides quality protein to help build topline. Polly, who can be a little fussy with her bucket feed, also has Alfalfa Pellets to that she isn’t over-faced with larger meals and we add in Alfa-Beet when any of the horses need some extra energy.
I am really excited to be working with Dengie Horse Feeds and the advice on nutrition has been really informative. The horses are already enjoying their first delivery of feed and their change in condition and performance after their first three months on the feed programme is amazing.
Having previously qualified both Lola and Polly in the first round of The Pony Club Dengie Winter League dressage competition, I was looking forward to competing them both at Abram Hall in Wigan on 13th March at the Open Area Final. I have been lucky enough to attend both the showjumping and dressage Dengie Championships three times before and the last time Polly went, I finished 11th in the Open Dressage in our arena, which I was very pleased with as it was our first Open Championship.
Unfortunately, as is the way with horses, things are never certain. We have struggled with the weather over the last few weeks and our arena at home has been waterlogged. Our first event of the season at Askham Bryan was cancelled. When the weather finally improved, Polly found a new trick of letting herself out of her stable and was kicked by another horse on the yard. Her injury was not serious but did put her out of action for a week, which meant that I could not ride her at all until the Friday before the competition. Hardly ideal for preparation! In some ways, it was fortunate that, whilst she is my more experienced horse and had more chance of qualifying, it was not Lola who was hurt as she needs much more work prior to a competition to avoid arguments in the dressage arena. Tests on occasion can be very lively!
The Saturday was spent grooming the horses, sorting tack and taking Lola on a much-needed trip to the gallops. We had a fantastic time. Fortunately, Polly was fit and most enthusiastic to be going to Wigan on a lovely spring day – much nicer than last year when we qualified in driving snow! Lola went first and delivered a very nice, calm test. I felt very pleased with it despite a couple of small mistakes and she was much more willing to listen – lots more trips to the gallops then!
Polly powered through her test, and I honestly felt that we hadn’t delivered what we could do. However, given her lack of preparation and the fact that she nearly didn’t get there at all, I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing and I think that probably helped.
I felt that Lola had done the better test, but was really pleased to find that Polly had come first with 69.52% and Lola second on 63%. Watching the videos back afterwards is really useful to see how they both went and how we could improve. I’m planning to work more on the quarter walk pirouettes.
We are now looking forward to taking Polly to the Championships again and hopefully we may also qualify for the showjumping too, as the Open Area Final is this coming week. It would be nice to make a weekend of it but we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes on the day