‘I’m not leaving this arena!’: rider sings her freestyle music after CD gives up the ghost — and wins

  • A rider whose CD went up the spout during her prix st georges (PSG) freestyle, screeching, changing speeds and finally stopping, sang part of the music herself as she finished the test without breaking stride.

    Zara Griffiss told H&H that having hung about all day waiting to ride her test, on Patrick Leg’s 17.3hh Irish draught Allegro on 23 June, she had no intention of stopping when the music did.

    “He was going so well; he warmed up amazingly and I thought ‘I could get a personal best today’,” she said. “Then he did all his fours and threes; it was going so well, then disaster! The music wasn’t just stopping, it was fast-forwarding, rewinding; the noise it was making was scaring the horses in the warm-up. Then it just switched off.”

    Zara said she had already qualified “Leggy” for the Area Festivals but wanted to “get some more test sheets under our belt”, so she had arrived at the show nice and early.

    “I’d waited so long to ride this blimming test, I thought I’m not leaving this arena without a sheet!” she said. “So I carried on; no way was I not going to do the bloody test!”

    Zara even sang some of her missing music herself, and the combination won their section.

    “I thought ‘The judges have got to know what it sounds like, so I’ll sing it’,” she said. “But then I was out of breath so I stopped. It’s really hard singing while doing sitting trot; I think I’d have fallen off if I’d kept it up for the extended trot!

    “We lost some marks for the music but he still got 67%, in a PSG, so I was really happy with that. It must have been hard for the judges as they wouldn’t have known if we were in time or not!”

    Zara added that she hopes to take Leggy, who was “meant to be a hunter but was no good at hunting, so I took him for eventing but he was no good at that either”, to grand prix level.

    “He’s enormous; a 17.3hh Irish draught who shouldn’t even be doing dressage, and I’m only 5’ and nine stone,” she said. “But he’s the best. He’s so beautiful, and he owns my heart.”

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