Anna Ross Davies: Crowd noise [H&H VIP]

  • Once again, this year’s big debate (at the national dressage championships) was the clapping that interrupted so many tests.

    I’m all for crowd involvement, but horses never have to deal with that mid-test anywhere else. It isn’t fair; they’re not police horses.

    The eventers run two arenas at Bramham — both start and finish simultaneously. That said, this year’s atmosphere at the show was better than ever; the organisers listen to feedback and keep improving things. But it really should be earlier in the year and an obligatory senior selection trial, so everyone would bring their top horses.

    There are so many classes and young horse championships over the year that it’s hard to tell who is champion of what. Why not resurrect the separate, prestigious young horse championships? It could also include classes for developing young prix saint georges (PSG) and grand prix horses. And maybe tack on an auction and a party?

    Another change I advocate is moving the halt in the PSG from X to G, otherwise horses learn to stop there. Having seen plenty of grand prix horses park up at X in anticipation, it would be more positive for developing grand prix horses — who piaffe at X — to keep going down the centre line.

    Are our senior riders having more senior moments? One went wrong twice in the grand prix and another rode two lines of four-times in the inter I (instead of threes and twos).

    In the inter I freestyle, Olivia Oakeley really performed. This wasn’t dressage WITH music, it was dressage TO music — impressive and what the crowd want.

    And, is Paul Hayler a reining convert? It was lovely to see our new director of training ripping round on a western horse and his daughter Bobby donning her cowboy outfit.

    Some old-timers made appearances. Paul was riding the sprightly OAP Martinique and Lucy Fallen retired Nurejev. Gareth Hughes was brave to dust off Classic Sandman for Sunday’s demo, too.

    Alice Oppenheimer’s Headmore Delegate won the novice years back and this year was fifth in the grand prix. She and her mother Sarah are a great team; they bred and have trained the horse.

    Perhaps this signals a changing of the guard in dressage?