Tales from Stoneleigh: ‘I’m either kicking or holding on for dear life!’

There are horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes competing at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (20-23 September) this week. And 14.2hh Tiger Tim is one of them.

Owned and bred by Denise Kersley, Tiger Tim is a traditionally bred gypsy cob, who is ridden and competed by Danielle Rhodes.

“’Tim’ Is out of Denise’s own traditional gypsy cob, Bashful Bobby Dazzler, who was actually bought directly from gypsies,” explains Danielle, a full-time rider from Somerset.

Tim, a stallion, is now 13 and this isn’t the first time he’s competed at these championships. He won the novice restricted final here in 2013 with his previous rider, Ali Matravers, who had to hand over the reins to Danielle three years ago due to work commitments.

Although Danielle says Tim is very chilled at home, and is even able to be stabled next to mares, at shows he can be “fairly challenging”.

“At home he’s very, very laid back and to come to a competition he’s rather loaded with oats and energy boosters,” explains Danielle. “But the competition atmosphere can affect him adversely — just before I went in today, the crowd applauded the previous test and he got quite lit up. And, for example, last weekend we were at the CHAPS [Coloured Horse & Pony Society] British Dressage championships — we were in the indoor arena and the commentator starting speaking which sent Tim off bucking his way past the judges — I was hanging on around the test! So he can go one way or the other — I’m either kicking or holding on for dear life. But he’s talented and we also have to remember he’s a stallion.”

Despite this, Danielle says that Tim, who is also partial to “dragging people leading him to the nearest blade of grass”, can “lack a lot of confidence” too.

“Once he understands what we’re asking him, he’s fine. But, for example, we’ve just moved him up to medium and when we started teaching him the new movements he sort of coiled back into himself.”

Danielle sights Tim’s rhythm and regularity as his test highlights.

“Every judge loves his rhythm in his way of going — a lot of people call it a tic-toc rhythm and that’s what helps him along. He moves well for what he is but he’s never going to beat a big-moving warmblood. But if we focus on our accuracy and rhythm, that’s where we can pick up the good marks.”

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Danielle and Tim scored 67.865% in the Childeric Saddles elementary silver championship.

Keep up-to-date with all of the news from the National Dressage Championships by keeping an eye on the Horse & Hound website, and don’t miss the full magazine report, out on Thursday 21 September.

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