Chloe Vell’s dressage blog: When the rules don’t work in your favour

  • I am enjoying catching up with sleep and relaxation at the moment. Riding the horses is so much fun when it’s not squeezed in-between studying. Teaching lessons to local riders and spending days at the yard without time pressures is also a pleasure.

    I managed to qualify all three of my horses for regional championships and so I decided to take them all to Somerford Park Farm. This is a local show and the other regionals were all a huge distance away so this decision made sense.

    First to go was Humus on a rainy Friday morning. We were drawn early in a class of 38 competitors in the novice silver section which meant we had a 5am start.

    Humus is such a charming boy, is easy to plait and has great stable manners. He is a five-year-old stallion I ride him for Marleen Smith who breeds Trakehners. I really appreciate the ride on him as it is often the case that rides go to professionals and younger riders do not get the same opportunities unless they can afford several horses or have family in the industry; neither of which apply to me. I had qualified Humus for the novice earlier in the year then concentrated on progressing him as he has quality paces which needed to be strengthened and established in his work.



    The hack across an open field to the arenas at Somerford is a challenge for some but Humus really took it in his stride, albeit on a chain and leadrope. He took a little time to settle in the warm-up as it was a large, open, exciting space.

    We then did our best test yet in the arena showing the work he’s been producing at home with only a few greener moments and distractions. I was more than thrilled as we were in the middle of three close-together arenas which can cause a disturbance for youngsters.

    So with pats and carrots we left the showground as the class was continuing for some time, starting at 10am and finishing at 4.30pm. This way Humus could rest at home and I rode my other two horses before returning at 2pm to see my score.

    I was excited to see I had scored a PB of 71.67% in this test and was in the lead! I then had a nail-biting couple of hours to see if I would stay there as it was dependent on how many starters there were and this would decide whether only the winner would progress.



    The odds of making the nationals seemed against us. It has always been difficult for me to make the nationals as the rule changes have never gone my way. Early on I had an old pony with lots of points downgraded so when I was aged 10-13 had to compete in open classes with no hope of qualifying for the nationals. Then I did a pony international which meant I had to ride in open sections from medium level downwards. The rules later changed though so that it applied to European pony team members only but it was already too late for me. I had a chance at competing in restricted classes when I bought a horse and then did my first advanced medium, qualifying for the nationals which we actually won, becoming national champion in the process. So the only horse I owned became a gold level competitor as a result and Prix St Georges is all gold for regional competitors anyway!

    The chance for me to ride at silver level with a young stallion I thought was a chance to get away from senior, professional, elite riders who normally take most of the national qualifications.

    At the end of the class I remained in first place and was so thrilled that for the second time in my competitive life I had made the nationals.

    The Monday was the turn of my horse Kaja and my friend Erin William’s horse Lola. We travelled them down the night before as Kaja was on early in the morning.

    She was being slightly troublesome in the warm-up so I tried my best to keep her head in the game and did lots of transitions and then did the same around the outside of our arena which worked perfectly and she performed one of her best tests this season! She scored just over 68% with a mistake in her three-time changes but otherwise showed some very promising scores and there were some nice comments on her test sheet.

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    Next up was Lola who scored 67.5% which is a personal best for us even with a mistake in her changes and loss of rhythm in her walk pirouettes. Her canter pirouettes have improved massively since our last test and are continuing to improve in training. Overall the regionals were a bigger success than I had hoped for and I am very excited to compete at the nationals on Humus in September and to continue building on Kaja and Lola’s training in preparation for the international season.

    Continued below…

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    The next big competition I’m doing is Sheepgate under-25 championships on Lola but before that I will be watching the Olympics andI want to join in with everyone in wishing our equestrian teams medal success. Team Great Britain, we are cheering for you all!


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