A dressage league for serving and retired police and military officers has been hailed a success, with plans to expand next year.
The South West Dressage Military League, running under the umbrella of Forces Equine, was the idea of Avon & Somerset Police mounted officer Helen du Heaume, who created the prelim-level competition to give officers a boost following Covid. Qualifiers took place at venues including Chard Equestrian, Tumpy Green, and Leyland Equestrian Centre, followed by a championship, sponsored by Blue Chip, at Hartpury on 20 March.
PC Amy Huxtable won the league with her retrained racehorse Flou Artsisique, PC Lindsey Pendleton was second with Pepito Star S and PC Helen du Heaume third with Alvescot Euphoria. PC Jenna Hastings was fourth with Hi N Dri, RAF officer Alexander Hart fifth with her Fell pony Cokey, and retired officer Sue Hocking sixth on Miss Molly Mae.
“Coming out of Covid everyone has been lacking mojo and I thought it would be nice to get officers competing in their uniforms on their own horses. We had a great selection, from officers who haven’t competed before to former racehorses and one of our former police horses, Larry,” Helen told H&H.
“We can compete in uniform at Royal Windsor Horse Show in showjumping, but there isn’t a dressage competition where you compete in uniform, so this was about making something really accessible. I compete regularly in normal clothing but it was really nice putting on our uniform, representing our forces and doing something that we love, on our own horses. Although being in uniform meant both horse and rider had to be on their best behaviour!”
The league ran in conjunction with other dressage competitions, and Helen said venues and the public were very welcoming.
“People were really supportive, and at the championship people stayed behind to watch us and give us a round of applause during the lap of honour,” said Helen.
Helen, who also events, and is aiming for the Burghley Young Event Horse qualifier at Badminton with her Selle Francais mare Alvescot Euphoria, plans to run the league next year with the addition of a novice class.
“We hope to spread the word and make it bigger next year. It’s all about supporting each other and enjoying it.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.