Dreams come true for riders with non-horsey full-time jobs at Winter Dressage Championships *H&H Plus*

  • Two working riders pulled off victory at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships this afternoon.

    The first of those came in the form of Annabel Abell, who topped the Petplan Equine advanced medium bronze area festival championship riding Sheepcote Let’s Go (pictured). They scored 69.35% to finish ahead of second-placed Sophie Bennett and Vallon Du Rock, who score 68.80% and third-placed Catherine Tristam and Lynwood Formula, who scored 68.20%.

    “I’m just absolutely delighted as my horse and I are relatively new to this level and I’m here today on a wildcard,” explained Annabel, who is head of customer services for life and pensions company. “I have a lot of support and a great team around me and my husband drives the lorry so at least that means we can spend some time together!”

    Annabel has owned the 11-year-old son of Lord Loxley for three years and has enjoyed rising up the dressage ranks with him.

    “I’m a really keen British Dressage member so to be riding at this level is an absolute dream come true,” she said. “‘Sam’ is a complete professional when he’s being ridden, but he is great fun – he’s a real joker around the stable.

    “I had a few challenges in the test, like getting our left flying changes, for example, but with my trainer, Maria Eilberg, we’ve been playing with riding with a little bit more power, but we gave it our best shot and I’m just so delighted to be here.”

    The second of the working riders to impress the judges was Bethany Lee, who topped the Petplan Equine preliminary bronze area festival championship with Creevagh Hannah (pictured). They scored 72.56% to finish ahead of Sandra Macdonald and Faside Je T’Aime on 70.56% in second and Victoria Homden and Ollie in third on 70.34%.

    “This is my first time at a championship and I really didn’t really know what to expect – I only joined BD in the middle of last year,” Bethany, who works in marketing for Bupa. “I have to be really conscious in controlling my nerves as I have struggled with them and ‘Zara’ is a sensitive mare, so really picks up on how I’m feeling. I’ve been working with my trainer Libby Shakespeare to learn techniques I can use in the arena that the judges can’t see, like trying to concentrate on my position instead of sitting there and getting tense, and remembering to smile too.”

    Bethany and Zara have enjoyed success eventing at BE90 and BE100 level, as well as in the dressage arena, and Bethany has produced this seven-year-old by Creevagh Ferro ex Siebe for the past three years.

    “Obviously due to Covid, I haven’t managed to get Zara out that much, but she warmed up really well today and went in and did a lovely test.”

    Read the full report from the Winter Dressage Championships in the 8 July 2021 issue of Horse & Hound magazine, and keep checking back to horseandhound.co.uk for more news and features.

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