Chloe Vell’s dressage blog: Young horses and new experiences

  • Since my last blog I have been much busier than I expected I would be, which is great!

    I am very excited to tell you about my new rides, which I have gained in the past few weeks. Firstly, I went to ride a difficult four-year-old who was presenting some issues to his owner and other riders.

    He is young and has some habits which have prevented him developing to his full potential. He is by Stedinger and needs some discipline to enable him to continue with his ridden work. At times, he is not for the faint-hearted but, as my horse is out of work, I have taken him for the owners to see if things can get better. He has great paces and a lot of talent.

    The Special One arrives

    Shortly after this I was asked to ride another four-year-old, the stunning Newton Feronia — by Floriscount/Rubinstein. She had no name other than The Special One, so we named her Diva. I was to ride her in the international four-year-old class at Hartpury Premier league and the Badminton young dressage horse final.

    My trainer and international judge and rider Isobel Wessels helped me secure the ride, and I was so excited to meet her. Diva came to me the week before the classes so we could have a little time to get to know each other before competing. I started with a lesson with Isobel to get things going, which was fantastic.

    Diva was only backed in February and she had only been to two competitions in her life, so I had no idea how she was going to cope with the atmosphere of a bigger show. I had never ridden a four-year-old class before and I had received instruction to follow the horse in front as you go in the arena in pairs. A test is called and you both do it together.

    But when it came to it, the other horse had withdrawn, so I had no one to follow and could barely hear the caller, with sudden wind and a rain shower blowing through. However, she did her owner/breeder Lorna Wilson and I proud.

    We made it into the top six, so went back in for the final go-round. She settled beautifully and we ended up fifth with 76.6%. What a great day and I am so thankful to all who made it happen.

    Badminton — a joy but a challenge

    She then had one day off before setting off to Badminton. I was up at 4.45am to bring her in from the field to plait her. She was a little bit nervous travelling as she had only ever been in a horsebox for the first time to Hartpury.


    The show at Badminton was very interesting — we hacked down a fair distance to the school for the arena walk. It’s a small indoor with space for spectators and lovely flowers and a very scary judges table. It was difficult to get her near to the table as it was all so new to her.


    We hacked back to warm-up, which is on open grassland among the Pony Club, which was a bit distracting for her. Then we hacked down again to the arena as we were first in at 8.30am in an enormous class. She was very good in the test, a little spooky but I couldn’t have asked any more of her. The judges gave us high marks for paces, however, our mark was lowered due to her spooking and tension, but that was expected as it was only her fourth show.


    It was an amazing experience to be able to compete in young horse classes which I have never done before and I loved every moment of it. I don’t know our placing as we had to leave as the class continued until 3pm and we needed to get Diva home.

    The good news kept coming as Lorna, Diva’s owner, said I could keep her, so you will be seeing a lot more of our partnership in the future, starting with the BEF Excel talent day in a couple of weeks! So after having no rides, I currently have two four-year-olds and, in four weeks, Kaja returns to work.

    She is still on a strict programme of controlled walking for 12 minutes twice a day, every day, which she isn’t best pleased about as she would much rather be doing pirouettes and changes instead! It’s not long to go before we take her back to see how her fracture is recovering, and hopefully then I’ll be able to start working her again gradually and be able to compete her again. I can’t wait!

    I will also be doing an equine-based modelling job in a couple of days, so there will be pictures to follow in my next blog.


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