Horse and rider with combined age of 101 to head to winter dressage champs at advanced medium

  • A horse and rider with a combined age of 101 are due to compete at the British Dressage (BD) NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships this month.

    Joyce Fearn and 22-year-old Weltklasse won the Nupafeed advanced medium gold freestyle at the Bishop Burton College winter regional on 2 June.

    This was far from the only success 78-year-old Joyce, whose 79th birthday is in two weeks’ time, enjoyed at the weekend.

    She came second in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice gold freestyle on Flayne Dandini, and repeated the feat in the elementary gold freestyle, then swept the board in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice silver freestyle, in which the top three riders were all trained by Joyce, and she owned the second- and third-placed horses.

    Joyce told H&H Weltklasse is known as Damian, as “he’s not always been easy”.

    “If he decides to acquiesce and join in, he can do very well, but he often has a gallop in the middle, and has been known to not necessarily be on my side all the time!” she said.

    “He’s very forward, and very talented, but he’s strong-minded, and thinks that going is always better than not going. Sometimes it’s difficult to gallop across the diagonal and then do a collected flying change, as he’d much rather keep going. If you can keep him under control, he’s very talented.”

    Damian is still always keen to go up the centre line in his 20s, which Joyce puts partly down to the horse yoga she does with him.

    “He’s done very well,” she said. “I’m not one to go flying around at the biggest trot possible every day but we do a lot of the yoga; stretching and stretching, which keeps his body as loose as it can be. I’ve used it for a long time for horses who struggle physically and I find it very useful.”

    Joyce said it was very good also to see her riders’ and horses’ success in the novice silver freestyle.

    “They all worked really hard, and on the day came up with the goods,” she said, adding that she produces the music herself as well, as that is “half the fun”.

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    Joyce, who has run her riding school at Bleach Yard Stables, Beverley, for 54 years, and also does backing, producing and dressage training, is now looking forward to the winter championships on both horses, as well as the summer regionals.

    “The last time I took Damian to the nationals, he was last to go in the medium, on the last day, and all the people doing the trade stands were thinking it was time to go home; I think we galloped backwards through the arena before we got up the centre line!” she said.

    “So I’m sure it will be better this time; the trade stands won’t be indoors. And I’ll do my best to have a nice time.”

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