My day at Stoneleigh: Matt Jenkins and Steigenberger

Stig.jpg

Matt Jenkins, 24, is a young dressage rider and trainer, currently based in the Cotswolds at Crown Farm Equestrian in Ascott-under-Wychwood. He has recently set up on his own after leaving the comfort of his trainer, Daniel Greenwood’s yard.

His horse Steigenberger (Stig) is a 17h black gelding by Stedinger and they qualified for the potential international five-year-old class at the Espayo National Dressage Championships 2012

I was very pleased to be back at the Nationals after a two-year break following the sale of my advanced horse. I didn’t realise I had qualified until I received the letter, so it was a big surprise! I had bought Stig as a project — no-one thought he was going to be good enough when I got him as a warty four-year-old, but he has come on leaps and bounds.

The atmosphere at the Nationals is always special. It’s great to be riding with the country’s top riders — this year including the Olympic and Paralympic gold medallists.

Words cannot describe how amazing it is to walk the arena early on a cold, crisp morning and then feel the atmosphere build as the day progresses. This year it was extra special with the crowd cheering the success of the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Stig was a little overwhelmed to start with. This was only his fourth outing away from home, but taking that into account he coped awesomely with the pressure. He took the temporary stabling in his stride — that can often spook the most unflappable of horses — but it was like he had been doing it all his life!

When I rode him the day before his class, he was a bit over the top, but soon settled into his warm up routine — a testament to the top class horse I know he is. During the class he did very well, especially with being in the arena with another horse and with the large crowd.

I was extremely pleased with how he went. He went better than I had hoped, as the build up to the nationals had been disrupted from our usual routine.

Even though he didn’t get the best marks, he has done very well to get to the Nationals and he is still one of the top 15 five-year olds in the country. Getting to Stoneleigh was a big achievement in itself and I am so proud of him.

This has been a great opportunity for Stig to experience such a big atmosphere will stand him in good stead. I know he will be back here again in the future!

Matt

Read H&H’s full 12-page report on all the action from the Espayo British Dressage National Championships in Thursday’s magazine (on sale 20 September, 2012)