My day at Stoneleigh: Hayley Colwell and Zidaane

  • My name is Hayley Colwell and this is Zidaane, aka Jacob (pictured right). He is an eight-year-old gelding by Jazz. This is only our second season competing. At last year’s national championships we won the prelim and novice restricted final. We then went on to win the elementary restricted and finish second in the novice open at the winter championships in April.

    This year Jacob and I qualified for the novice open, elementary open and the medium restricted classes at Stoneleigh. British Dressage rules only allow you to compete in two classes, so I opted for the elementary open and the medium restricted. Even though I knew we were still very green at this level, and it was a huge step up, I wanted to give it a go.

    Being back at the Nationals this year was a mixture of excitement and pressure — after our success last year I really wanted to repeat that winning feeling that I have come to love! The pressure only comes from myself and the goals I set for the year ahead.

    Stoneleigh was as busy as ever, with a buzz that I think is hanging on from the amazing London 2012 Olympics. Warming up alongside our very own gold medalist Carl Hester was an obviously a highlight for me, although not so much for Jacob! The collecting ring was extremely busy with prize givings causing much excitement.

    Unfortunately Jacob did not relax as I would have hoped during my warm-up for the medium class and I entered the arena feeling less confident than usual. We are not truly established at this level, having only done eight mediums to date, but I hoped we could pull it out of the bag. But we made a couple of mistakes and his tension in the lateral work at the beginning was very costly, so you can’t win them all! Even Carl Hester has his bad days and retired during one of his tests.

    So although I am very disappointed in our performance, I am very proud of our achievements in the last 12 months. We will live to fight another day and can now prepare for the elementary open on Sunday and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Team GB medal parade to salute our riders.

    Coming from a showjumping background, I never saw dressage as an exciting or challenging sport, but two years on I urge all riders to have a go at dressage — then you will appreciate our Olympians results this year and maybe you too will catch the bug of training your horse to dance!


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