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Horse & Hound Festival of Dressage: summer night brings hot competition in music classes

There was hot competition in the music classes at the inaugural Horse & Hound Festival of Dressage.

Freestyle classes from prelim to medium were held in the evening sunshine at Sheepgate, after the conclusion of the championship sections on Saturday (21 July).

Alice Elliott and the flashy Chatsworth Chieftain scored 72.67% for victory in the medium section.

The pair entered to Queen and carried out a polished performance to hits, including Crazy Little Thing Called Love and The Show Must Go On.

Elementary freestyle winner Rachael Liddle and Orions Wish danced their way to first place to a soundtrack, featuring the Yellow Submarine, Walking on Sunshine and Here Comes The Sun, put together by Tony Hobden of Equidance.

They pulled off a fluent and accurate test to score 68.27%.

Rachael, a data analyst from Sunderland bought the KWPN x Welsh gelding two years ago from her trainer Ian Brown’s wife Vicky.

“He’s really cheeky and likes attention,” said Rachael who travelled four hours to this event. “He was tired as he’s already competed twice today, but he tried really hard to do what I asked. His serpentine came off really well, which is something we’ve been working on. I’ve found the Festival really fun and everyone is so friendly and cheerful. It’s more relaxed than a normal show and more flexibile.”

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Novice winners Amy Wray and Sara had everyone’s feet tapping to their fun score, put together by Equivision.

The pair’s score featured the techno-disco beats of DJ Scott’s Sweet Dreams and included American Authors’ Best Day Of My Life as well as Kongos’ Come With Me Now.

Leeds University student Amy admitted her entrance and first centre line is her favourite part of the test.

“I wanted something upbeat and recognisable that people would know,” said Amy, who has enjoyed success in affiliated music classes with the mare.

“She’s quite lively and sharp, so I wanted something that would suit her.”

The combination received the highest mark out of all the freestyle classes, 75.28%.

As well as dressage, Amy also competes the mare at endurance and the pair enjoy hunting with the Readyfield Bloodhounds in the winter.

Prelim winners Kirstie Clarke and CDS Calzini (pictured, top) produced a fluid, active test to a John Williams compilation, with music from the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The eye-catching chestnut gelding (CHB x Crack C), bred and owned by Janice Vallance, was rewarded with a mark of 74.44%.

This was the five-year-old gelding’s second ever show and both his owner and rider were delighted with how he coped.

“He was a bit tired but he’s so good and trainable,” said Kirstie, who trains with Hannah Doggett and Stephen Clarke.

“I had music written for another horse but Hannah designed floorplan — I had never ridden through it fully until today! It’s such good music to ride to and it’s easy to get into a good rhythm.

“The judge stopped me at the end and said how good he was.”

The championship tests are run over two days at Sheepgate Equestrian Centre in Lincolnshire.

Competitors rode their first test on Saturday (21 July) and their second on Sunday (22 July). The winners are decided on a combination of percentages from both tests, with a host of prizes, including a Catago FIR-tech healing rug worth £200 for winners and rosettes to tenth place.

Don’t miss the latest news and updates on the H&H Festival of Dressage on the Horse & Hound website and social media channels, plus a full report in the 26 July issue of the magazine.

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