Dressage highlights: Swift progress delivers glory *H&H Plus*

  • A brand new combination impress the judges, while a young pony with a “trainable attitude” works her way up the levels

    Aintree International EC, Merseyside

    A new combination of just five weeks made their mark with a 70% advanced medium win.

    “I never expected such a good score,” said Charlotte Lutener, who is still feeling her way with Full Fusion BS (Florence), under the guidance of trainer Jess Dunn. “It takes time to get to know a new horse, so my main aim was to enjoy myself and to try the partnership in a test situation.

    “We bought Florence so that my other horse Bertie [AB Barroco] can move up the levels with less pressure,” added Charlotte of the 10-year-old Blue Hors Zack mare, who has been produced and competed up to inter I level by Becky Moody. “She has the most beautiful personality and she’s a pleasure to ride. Everything I’m learning from her is proving beneficial to Bertie.”

    Olivia Rimmer bagged two elementaries with her six-year-old British warmblood gelding Oscar C, after stepping up to the level post-lockdown. Olivia, who is based with Lisa Marriott on an apprenticeship, has big plans for the showjumping-bred Danny Kannan son she bought last year from Astrid Bolton.

    “I saw so much potential in him,” she said. “We’ve started to teach him changes and half pass and he is now much more uphill, with more sparkle to all three paces. We’re aiming to compete on junior or young rider teams.”

    At novice, 14.2hh mare Wadacre Fancy Pants impressed. “This was only her second outing at novice, but she has such a trainable attitude,” explained Laura Crosby, who rides the five-year-old sports pony (Fürst Romancier x Golden Dancer) for Jeanette Matthews-Griffiths of the Wadacre Stud and headed the novice 38 outright with plus-72%.

    “She’s a true partner. We’re training with Gareth Hughes and plan to do the British Dressage young pony classes with her as we work up through the levels. I think she could go all the way.”

    King’s Sedgemoor EC, Somerset

    An assured performance secured Heraldik a convincing 71% inter I win on his debut at the level.

    “He’s so brave now – you would never know that he had once been so nervous and terrified of people,” said Elizabeth Allen, who bought Dutch-bred “Harry” as an unbacked three-year-old but delayed starting him because of his confidence issues. “He has really come into his own.”

    In 2019, the Uphill gelding gained experience at bigger shows and was selected for the seven-year-old classes at the World Breeding Championships in Ermelo, the Netherlands.

    “I gave him a holiday during lockdown, but we’ve since picked him up to develop more suspension and lift in the trot,” said Elizabeth, who is based with Jonny Clarke-West. “The judge commented that he looked very secure at the level, and we also scored a personal best at prix st georges [PSG].”

    Bronte Watson returned to competition after a hip injury to head the grand prix with Cleverboy (Charlie), the 13-year-old Vivaldi gelding she describes as “an absolute saint”. She also rode Guess Van De Moerhoek to third place in the inter I.

    “My horses were based with my trainer Anna Ross during lockdown and have just returned home,” said Bronte. “I had such a fun year with Charlie at international small tour and then under-25 grand prix; now we’re at big tour it feels like we’re learning how to do it all again.

    “Guess is just nine and the hotter of the two, but I was really pleased with his clean two-tempis and also his pirouettes, which were a good representation of where he’s currently at with his training.”

    “Her work ethic reminds me of my European gold medallist”

    Swallowfield Equestrian, Warks

    Phoebe Peters’ new mare Hawtins Fiore passed her first competitive test with flying colours, winning both novices at Swallowfield Equestrian.

    “She exceeded my expectations with her maturity, confidence and perfect behaviour,” said Phoebe, who bought five-year-old Fürsten-Look daughter “Fury” from the Hawtins Stud just six weeks ago. “Her rideability is fantastic and her work ethic reminds me of Lucci [Phoebe’s multiple European pony gold medal-winning partner, SL Lucci]. I’m feeling very lucky indeed.”

    After more than a year away from the arena due to university commitments, Phoebe is resuming her competition career under the expert eye of her trainer Peter Storr.

    “It’s so nice to be back doing what I love,” she said. “And we’re moving our horses to new facilities at home, so they’ll be living just 20m away from my bedroom.”

    Port Royal EC, N Yorks

    A Chance meeting led to a new ride for Emma Littlewood, who has taken on Liz Haigh’s nine-year-old home-bred mare Guinevere Aimbry.

    “I was at the vet’s with my own horse, who unfortunately is out of action with an injury, and got chatting to Liz,” explained Emma, who trains with Hannah Esberger-Shepherd and headed both the elementary 59 and freestyle at Port Royal EC.

    “We decided I would take ‘Ruby’ for a month to try. She’s hot, sensitive and quite electric to ride, which is right up my street. With such beautiful paces, she ticks all the boxes.”

    Alnwick Ford Equestrian, Northumberland

    In a staggering feat of logistic management, Sarah Oakden rode 13 tests on five different horses over a weekend.

    “We’re based in Fife, but since there are currently no shows in Scotland this is my nearest venue,” explained Sarah, who has made the six-hour round trip three times since the lockdown eased in England.

    Sarah headed the medium 73 qualifier with her own Kerrishill Zeus, a 13.2hh Welsh section C gelding who switched to dressage from showing after breaking his pedal bone, and took two novices with Liz Somerville’s 16.1hh warmblood event gelding Splash And Dash – topping 77% both times.

    The others, all novices, included Welsh section C Danash Shangri-La, Dales mare Morlandsdale Mia and Fell mare Greenholme JJ.

    “Whoever allotted our times knew what they were doing,” added Sarah, whose helper Liz Daniels also rode high-scoring prelim tests with driving horse Plasucha Del Boy.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 13 August 2020