Teddy bears unbeatable at Olympia

  • The King’s Leaze riders gave a flawless display of their “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” routine to take the honours in the South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) Riding Club Quadrille of the Year at Olympia.

    Under the expert guidance of Dot Willis, best known for training top eventer Ginny Elliot, the team impressed the crowd and the judges.

    Team member Judy Grove designed and made the costumes with help from Adrea Jones. The result showed a remarkable attention to detail, with clever make up, cuddly bear suits and gingham-checked saddle cloths representing picnic blankets adorned with cups, plates and cutlery.

    King’s Leaze also delighted the pre-Christmas audience with their music. Put together by Caroline Page and featuring songs such as Elvis’s Teddy Bear, Bear Necessities, and, of course, the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, it went down particularly well.

    “The music fitted the ponies perfectly — I’m sure they used a metronome,” said judge Desi Dillingham, chair of British Dressage. “I’ve been judging for many years and the attention to detail and the timing of the display was just as good as that at World Cup level.”

    The fact that the team was mounted on native ponies made the victory even more impressive.

    “It was fantastic to see the ponies going on the bit and remaining well balanced,” said Patrick Print FBHS, who, alongside Desi and Inspector Alan Hiscox from the Metropolitan Police, made up the judging panel.

    The two grey Highland ponies and two black Fells were well matched in stature and pace, and were unconcerned by the lights, noise and atmosphere of the venue.

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for all the members of the second-placed placed Faversham Riding Club team, which slightly spoiled an otherwise imaginative and dramatic routine.

    One of the horses found the powerful sound system and the enthusiastic audience unsettling, which was a shame because he was probably the most impressive mover in the competition.

    Dressed in bright red flying suits with white crash helmets, Faversham put on a Red Arrows display. The horses were equally brightly dressed, with luminous red hoods and under-rugs, and rather fetching red glittery hooves.

    Four-times winner Saffron Walden ended up in third place with a cavalry display.
    Clare Engelmann said: “We chose the cavalry because it was normal for the military to be on horseback, and we like to pick relevant themes.”

    Taking fourth place was South Oxfordshire with a Cool Brittania routine. The team re-enacted the Last Night of the Proms in time to rousing music, including Jerusalem and The National Anthem.

  • Read the full report in Horse & Hound (30 December, ’04)

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