Anna Ross: ‘All dressage riders need sectioning’ *H&H VIP*

  • It was a busy weekend for dressage enthusiasts at the end of August, with the High Profile show at Bury Farm, the new midway championships at Hartpury and the Sheepgate under-25s championship on at the same time.

    Those results did lead me to think about “protection” for my own peer group (senior gold in everything) — I have come to the conclusion that all dressage riders need sectioning.

    I was delighted with my “rookie ride” Wydny, who picked up second and third placings in the grand prix classes at the high profile show but I’d propose compulsory attendance at Sheepgate for the under-25s next year as a few infiltrated the High Profile show and were too good.

    Sam Thurman-Baker obviously took a wrong turn on the way to Lincolnshire and had the cheek to win the grand prix by a whisker. Shouldn’t she have been at Sheepgate? If those pesky kids had not been in our class Rebecca Hughes and I could have had a “bling-off” for the first and second places instead of having to worry about trotting on the spot and keeping our heels down. Have these talented young riders forgotten the old adage of “age before beauty”?

    They all get taught about the dangers of dehydration on World Class so were sipping their water and energy drinks while their parents kept nervously looking at their watches. It may have appeared that they were precision timing their offspring’s warm-ups but I think they were just anxious for 5pm so they could open the wine without being “judged” themselves.

    Who cares which breed?

    The concept of the breed championships also arose. I’ve read on the British Dressage forum that you have to have a warmblood to win everything so I simply don’t understand what happened at Bury Farm. Did someone forget to tell the judges?

    Sam’s horse that won the grand prix is a part-bred Cleveland Bay (see Horse Hero, p28), and Steph Croxford — who thrashed us all in the freestyle — was riding a driving-bred horse so they definitely shouldn’t have been in my section. I came second but in the light of these revelations the moral victory must have belonged to me and the lovely (warmblood) Wydny.

    The midway championships seemed to be a roaring success and I’d encourage everyone to support this and also the late autumn small tour champs. Jess Coltman, who works in my office, went along with one of my clients and they had a cracking weekend. The entry fees were on the high side but Hartpury is a prestigious venue. The organisers could have run it in a field somewhere to keep the costs down but it wouldn’t have been quite the same.
    Sheepgate finally had the weather they deserved and as ever the Payne family and their team provided a great show.

    A medal legacy

    I would still like to see pocket badges or medallions awarded as per the American and German systems for accomplishment and scores at advanced level. This would better reflect the true meaning of “dressage” which, is of course, to train.

    I keep saying it but it will probably be in my memorial at the rate the idea isn’t being picked up. I would say I’d leave a legacy to cover it but I fully intend to blow all my money on horses.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 15 September 2016