“Well hold him will you!” bellows a spoilt brat at her long-suffering mother. It’s the winter dressage championships at Hartpury, Gloucestershire (8-12 April) and said 20-going-on-eight-year-old is removing her jacket, mounted, following a prize-giving. Sure, it’s the final, so temperatures run high, but in the grand scheme of things you’d hope the girls would have better manners than their horses.
These outbursts are one of very few things that nark me about getting out the office (we’re, of course, much nicer to each other back at Horse&Hound House). Otherwise, I’m happy as a pig in excrement — 40 dressage classes over five days, including music classes, plus fun and games at Friday and Saturday’s gala evenings — who’d want to be anywhere else of an Easter weekend? Seriously, I love it. And, even better, Horse&Hound launched their new and improved dressage section today with the dressage special, so I’m getting first-hand feedback about what you like and don’t — we want to know.
There have been some great winners, too. Sharon Boyd, mother of three, took the medium restricted on her reformed rearer, Valentino Toftebjerg, giving hope to all those with unwilling horses. There were discrepancies in the judging mind you — something we discuss in Horse&Hound this week (Is Judging In Crisis? p22). The judges sitting at the E and H markers placed the pair ninth, whereas Jennie Loriston-Clarke, sitting at C, had Sharon to win. You’ll have to buy Horse&Hound 16 April to find out more, as we’ll be investigating discrepancies for our full nationals report.
Alice Oppenheimer scored deux point for British breeders, taking the novice open and music on home-bred Headmore Delegate. She had to share top spot in the novice with Lucy Cartwright (21) on Waterloo V, who sweetly asked her mother “were you scared? I was” — we all were as Waterloo V took off full pelt in the prizegiving, looking at the ceiling.
Eventer Caroline Moore took the novice combined training on Newmiln Jamestown, having won last year on the gelding’s full sister. She had to, really, having already watched pupil Rachel Ward (Ballinmore Blue Max) take the prelim equivalent. The open went to Gill Pollard for the second year running on Gambarda — a unique horse, being part Shire, small tour dressage horse and grade A show jumper; and a mare of course, show me a boy who can multitask to that degree.
Today, I’m covering the Petplan area finals for the first time in the history of Horse&Hound, as well as reporting the national championships. These area finals, once seen as the national’s less competent younger brother, are now strongly fought contests in their own right, so I really am looking forward to that.
In fact, if any precocious madams could just get over themselves, I’d be 100% happy. Unless I was sitting at E… then it’d be more like 65%.