From a rider who went to see a hypnotist, to wet knickers and a dodgy sounding horse name, here are some of the moments you might have missed form the 2016 Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury
1. One particular grey pony (pictured, above), Debbie Boylan-White’s 11-year-old 15hh Irish mare Kippure Norma, gained notoriety for her outfits at Hartpury. She was snapped wearing some funky pink pyjamas in the stables and looked sparklingly clean when she strutted her stuff in the prelim Area Festival final.
2. Owner Shirley Rixon had a spectacular show as both of her horses won their respective classes. Taking the last Area Festival final title on offer, her Beau x Metall six-year-old Flores L topped the Petplan prelim with Charlotte Bateman on 73.03%. He was second in the opening prelim round, then climbed the leader board to take the rug and sash. The judges weren’t totally in agreement however: two of them had him to win and another in 12th, nearly 10% lower. Coached by Charlotte Dujardin, Jayne Turney piloted Shirley’s other horse, Penhaligon’s Jupiter, to novice open honours indoors.
3. The oldest horse at the championships was 22-year-old Yogy, who finished seventh in the medium restricted freestyle championship with 68.28%. His rider Sarah Colborn and owner Lucy Wren used music from the Yogy Bear theme. The 16hh bay gelding is Irish and of unknown breeding.
4. “I am absolutely soaked to the skin — even my knickers are wet!” said a soggy competitor in the elementary restricted Area Festival final after surviving a sudden downpour ahead of her test.
5. Sara-Jane Lanning had a fantastic training hit rate at this show, coaching two riders to take titles: medium winner and former Household Cavalry equestrian warrant officer Jamie Broom (Furst Impression) and novice restricted winner Hannah Bown (Sandro’s Storm).
6. Four ultra-talented horses qualified for four classes at Hartpury – Stephanie Biscombe’s Donner Fantasia, Sara-Jane Lanning’s Furstano, Alice Oppenheimer’s Headmore Wimoweh and Sam Rahmatalla’s ride Seagry Sanay.
7. A half-sister to Dimaggio was competing at the show: Lynette Williams’ elementary open freestyle contender Quatre Pieds Blancs is by Quaterback out of the dam of the legendary stallion Dimaggio. The 18hh seven-year-old was ridden by Karen Head to third place with 73.72% in the elementary open freestyle championship.
8. Area Festival competitor Ellie Targett had a bitter pill to swallow in the advanced medium restricted: One judge has her to win while another had her in 23rd. She ended up out of the placings, finishing in 12th.
9. Tahley Reeve Smith, winner of the novice open freestyle title with Sharola Show Star and third in the prix st georges on Special, revealed the reason behind her improved positive attitude: “I never saw myself as national champion, only a regional one — so I went to see a hypnotist. The experience really changed my outlook — it never occurred to me that I could aim higher than 70%, like 80%!” It hasn’t meant that everything has gone to plan, however — Tahley admitted that “I fell off instead of getting off today!”
10. Nikki Crisp was full of praise for her exciting medium open champion, the Spielberg stallion Durable — except perhaps for his name: “We call him Danny at home as Durable sounds like a battery — or a condom, we haven’t decided!“
11. Even national champions have to sit tight sometimes. As Hannah Biggs saluted at the end of her advanced medium music winning test on Don Caledonia, the crowd clapped hard in appreciation and ‘Archie’ spun round violently, very nearly sending Hannah flying.
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12. A rainbow came out over the Area Festival finals on the penultimate day after a particularly vicious downpour. The weather had been especially stormy, with flapping tents, hail and flying chairs. The saying goes that a pot of gold can be found at the end of rainbows, but perhaps a Petplan winner’s rug would have been more fitting…