This month’s British Dressage National Championships (17-20 September) are the season’s number one goal for most national — and indeed many international — riders.

Everyone tries their hardest to get there, and hard luck stories (and excuses) abound.

Some didn’t read the rules. Others failed to qualify because the points required to do so had been raised; one from our yard missed out by one mark.

Then there was the entry posted two weeks before the closing date, never to arrive (registered post is advised). Not to mention the untimely spook, rain storm, distracting photographer and popping of a crisp packet on the day.

We saw bumper entries at many regional championships. One had to cancel its warm-up classes to accommodate them.

My own regional was as excuse-packed as they come. The day began with the humiliation of a speed awareness course. Then, on the way to the show, I got news that a student of ours was in hospital following a near fatal accident (not horse related).

I nearly abandoned my bid for qualification. But with my horse arrived, I felt I couldn’t let down his lovely owner and the Talland team that had got us there. With weak legs and tears on the bubble, I rode the best I could, making sure we were both up to the bridle.

As I write, the student is better and this wild-card watcher has been rewarded with the best possible news. I simply can’t wait to compete at those magical nationals.

Gold — and a warning

This summer’s wall-to-wall European championships saw our pony team lead by example with a record number of gold medals. Well done to all concerned, especially team trainer Peter Storr.

More than ever now it behoves our juniors and young riders to up their game. The pony team’s loss of Phoebe Peters — an absolute star in the making — will prove a godsend to the juniors next season.

Our seniors’ championship performance was brilliant, albeit nerve-racking at times. There were inevitably judging discrepancies; one man’s perfect being another’s less so. Never have medals been won and lost by such tiny margins.

While remaining optimistic that those Rio gold medals will bear Great Britain’s name, I do wonder how much better Edward Gal with Glock’s Undercover NOP can become. As another Olympic year dawns, this combination is surely the dark horse.

Yes, their elimination for blood during their second Europeans test hit the headlines — I sometimes bite the inside of my mouth when concentrating — but the huge improvement Edward has made with Undercover cannot be underestimated.

I was relieved Charlotte and Valegro won the golds. But it was too tight for comfort. British dressage has so much to celebrate, but we’ve also been warned.

The importance of rest

There’s a holiday on the horizon for my husband, me and our horses. What bliss — although for every week off, it takes a week to return to fitness.

I like this new trend for shorter holidays. Months lazing around in a field or/cliff top villa getting fat does no favours to man nor beast.

Likewise, mini-breaks work well within a training schedule. With horses, I find three consecutive days’ work, with two days off, then three days on again, brings more mental and physical benefits than working/resting on alternate days.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 10 September 2015