The past 2 weeks have been hectic to say the least… 3 international classes and 2 national winter championship classes, 4 wins and a very healthy 2nd! All in all a very successful week for Team Wells!

Valerius (Reece, pictured top at Hartpury) and I went to Deauville along with trainer Angela and competition groom, Becca. There were 5 riders from Team GBR, so as always we all traveled together. After having a few saddle problems in the run up, which cancelled some of our prep competitions, Reece went with only one outing under his belt since the nationals in September last year.

He was not tired in the slightest from the journey, which resulted in some airs above the ground whilst hand walking him between Becca and I when he arrived on the first day. This ended in Becca having a black foot and me wrenching my back. Thankfully new team physio Lucy Bell and osteopath Karen were on hand with treatment every day to try and manage it!

First day of competition was fairly tense, with a lot of school children on visits, cameras clicking, screaming, score collectors jumping behind tents… that sort of thing! We had quite a few big spooky mistakes, which left us winning by .15%, which I consider too close for comfort!

So arena walk was high on the agenda for the next day, and my team did the distractions far too well, to get Reece more on side and relaxed with things going on. He went so well on the 2nd day of competition, and felt much more like himself, gaining 74.5% and winning with a good margin.

The freestyle was the last day and although he didn’t feel quite so good, after getting slightly over-cooked in the warm up, he did a good test to get 78.2%. This was good enough to win the grade IV and get 3rd best rider of the show behind Lee Pearson and Natasha Baker. It was good show for the Brits!

Off to Hartpury

We got home on Monday night, had 16 hours to un-pack, re-pack, ride 3 horses and leave for Hartpury with Forever Himself (aka David) for the para class at the winter championships. I did the arena walk with him as he is very inexperienced at big competitions, and is good at finding monsters everywhere!

Then it was early to bed for myself and Becca to catch up on some sleep! David was a bit tricky to warm up, however I hadn’t ridden him in the week before as we were away, so his owner kept him going, which was really helpful. In the test he really listened and the mistakes he made were very genuine, and not because he was being tricky or naughty, so I was really pleased with him. He had a good win with just under 70%, which means we had a very happy owner!

We headed back home for a couple of days to get the other horses going again and stretch Reece out, before returning to Hartpury with Reece to contest the inter 1 freestyle.

It was great to get there, as I had before with Noki, and riding him in that sort of atmosphere is really helpful for his development. Boy was there an atmosphere! Reece warmed up really well, went in to the arena, trotted quarter of the way round then was shocked by all the people. I spent the rest of the time walking round patting and talking to him until the bell went, but once his music started he got in the zone, and did a great test.

It was an adaptation to our para test and we got a smashing 74.6%. I was chuffed to bits with him and with our relationship being so strong. I didn’t expect the final result being in 2nd place again to Michael, as we were 2 years ago we were both on different horses!

It was a great honor, and I’d like to offer amassive thank you to my whole team, home and away that make it all happen, as well as sponsors, owners, family and friends. It wouldn’t happen without your support and hard work too!

Sophie