Alex Hua Tian’s diary: ticking the final box for Le Lion

  • After five weeks of relentless three-days I was hoping to enjoy the relatively quiet aftermath. Not so, unfortunately by the time the prize-giving finished at Blenheim, we’d thrown the remaining gear in the lorry and left it was past six. Home by eight, just to swap horses, Fiddle (ESB Irish Fiddle) for Rodney (Willows Accent)!

    To qualify for the seven-year-old championships at Le Lion d’Angers in France, Rodney needed one more intermediate qualifying result. Pontispool the next day was one of the remaining intermediates and with an early morning dressage Flora Harris very kindly offered us a stable for the night. So with a fast turn around, quick unpack and repack, we found ourselves motoring our way back down the M4 on our way to the West Country. After a seemingly endless trip heads didn’t hit pillows until two that next morning.

    The beep of the alarm at seven was not a welcome sound! However, we made it to Pontispool with plenty of time. Quick run round the course, change and warm-up we found ourselves in the white boards of our dressage test. Rodney did a nice test but with a lot of improvements to come. After a good score of 30.5 penalties, it’s nice to know that with a bit more work and time, it could be significantly better.

    The great thing about Pontispool, which makes the trip worthwhile, is the fact that the showjumping is on an allweather surface. The course itself seemed to be causing carnage but Rodney warmed up spectacularly, turning everyone’s heads in the collecting ring so I felt confident. Rodney jumped his nicest and most polished round with me to date! A clear round to add nothing to his good dressage score.

    The cross-country really suited Rodney. Big, bold and galloping with an intense section in the second half of very technical fences. With orders to open up in the galloping sections but to be careful at the technical fences we set off with business in mind. We finished clear with just 7 time-penaties, enough to put us into 5th place! Rodney’s been 8th at his first intermediate and 5th at his second, so far so good. So it looks like another trip to France next month.

    Maggie (Magenta) and Fiddle are thoroughly enjoying their holiday out in the field. With the autumn weather setting in and their winter coats growing it won’t be long until they look like two shaggy New Forest ponies. Jeans, after his injury at Luhműhlen a few months ago had his first day out in his little pen so is also over the moon. Also I have a new addition to the yard, Fred or Furst Love, owned by Jacke Mathieson, a stunning Oldenburg bay eight-year-old. But more about him next week.


    Full report from Pontispool in H&H on sale now (23 September issue).

    Alex Hua Tian’s website

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