Wobbleberries shone at Horseheath with a win and a full house of double clears.
The Wobbleberry challenge is for “middle aged, wimpy riders” new to eventing, who are hoping to compete at BE80(T) this season.
The challenge was inspired by the courage of the late Hannah Francis and riders who have signed up are also raising money for her Willberry Wonder Pony charity.
Four Wobbleberries were in action at the Cambridgeshire event.
Ashley Harrison took top honours in BE80(T) section L aboard Aughris Rock.
It was her friend of 30 years, Nicky Tollafield, who encouraged Ashley to take on the challenge and helped her with her training.
“I’ve done lots of horrible scary exercises, building up from canter poles,” she said.
“The last time I left the ground was 25 years ago.”
Ashley, whose first BE80 was at Norton Disney earlier this month, used to jump, but took up dressage when she had children.
“Horseheath is a bit of a favourite place of mine — my daughter used to go and do the hunter trials there and then when it started holding events I thought it would be a lovely venue,” she told H&H. “But I never thought I would be competing there.”
Ashley added just 0.4 cross-country time faults to her dressage of 30.5 to win and has also raised around £1,200.
“[My horse] has the biggest heart — he is so generous and puts up with all sorts of wobbling,” she added.
“The challenge has been amazing. It has put people in situations they would never have put themselves in and made them live a little more.”
Dressage trainer and rider Maddie Peal (pictured, below) took fourth place on her daughter’s horse Lavenderhill in section M — despite a small memory lapse in the dressage test.
“This was my first BE event and I can’t remember the last time I did anything like cross-country,” Maddie told H&H.
“Hats off to Horseheath, they made a lovely course and it was terribly well organised.
“I think the challenge is a brilliant idea. Nobody had the faintest notion that it was going to take off as well as it has.”
Completing the quartet were Jo Theze on Rosduff Limited Edition, who came sixth, and Liz Fraser on Village Prince, who finished 16th.
The Wobbleberry challenge had an original overall target of £50,000 — but has already almost trebled that, with the current total standing around £143,000.
Article continues below…
You might also be interested in:
BE said it is 'proud to support' the
Hovis is in total support of the Wobbleberry
We meet eight inspirational Wobbleberries at a training
Sam Nicholls has been coaching Maddie and Liz, as well as a few other Wobbleberries.
“I am hugely proud of them,” she said, adding the initiative has really inspired a lot of riders and given them a goal to aim for.
“They want to do it well and they want to raise money.
“It was such fun being there [at Horseheath] and everybody had champagne afterwards — it was a real fun party.
“I think the charity and the challenge has absolutely got hold of everybody’s imagination.”
A British Eventing (BE) spokesman said it is great the Wobbleberries challenge is going so well and to see the riders achieving incredible results – all while raising money for a “wonderful charity”.
“The BE80(T) level was created to give riders at the entry level of the sport a fun, supporting and confidence giving experience,” she added.
“With experienced BE accredited coaches to help on the day with cross-country course walks, showjumping warm-up and with answering any questions, we hope this has given them a taste of BE eventing and the encouragement to continue participating past the completion of their challenge.
“BE training and education host several entry level courses to help riders prepare for their first event, which have been well supported by the Wobbleberries in their competition build-up and hope it has helped some of them on their way to these fantastic achievements.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday