Tales from Hartpury: meet the family pony rubbing shoulders with dressage’s big guns

Dressage videos 28 Videos Amy Woodhead: how to ride a canter half pass to wow the judges 02:58 Amy Woodhead: how working for Carl Hester has set her up for success 06:14 Watch Carl Hester at home: 'I can't wait to get out of bed and train horses towards grand prix' 02:31 Tales from Hartpury: the nine-year-old rising star with an Olympic dream 02:35 Winter Dressage Championships day four: one-two for Dujardin 03:43 Sophie Wells' rising star impresses on prix st georges gala night 01:22 Winter Dressage Championships day three: former runaway horse shows what she's made of for championship first-timer 03:30 Tales from Hartpury: the event horse making waves in her new career 01:56 Tales from Hartpury: Five horses and 13 tests — but did this rider remember where to go? 01:04 Tales from Hartpury: the horse with a rare skin condition that travelled in first gear for six miles 02:02 Winter Dressage Championships day two: Dujardin wants her rising star's foal for Easter 03:35 Tales from Hartpury: meet the family pony rubbing shoulders with dressage's big guns 01:08 Winter Dressage Championships day one: a shock victory and a horse defies the odds to do a double 04:43 H&H dressage editor’s Area Festival video diary: Disbelieving the results of my small and fairly average horse 05:03 Watch Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro's European freestyle dressage test 07:13 Watch Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro wow the crowds at Hartpury 09:37 What is 'breath energy' and could it help your riding? 03:48 Watch Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro's freestyle on a catch ride 06:38 Ruth Edge: How to ride the perfect 10m circle 01:18 Exclusive: watch Valegro work out on a water treadmill 02:46 'Squat to exhaustion': meet Alice Oppenheimer 02:43 Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin: A bit of banter 03:15 Maria Eilberg: How to improve your horse's walk 02:03 Maria Eilberg: how to improve your horse’s trot 01:21 Michael Eilberg: How to ride a square halt 03:35 Michael Eilberg: introducing collection in canter 05:01 Michael Eilberg: teaching your horse to rein back 05:03 Watch Farouche's winning test at the BD nationals 05:44

Horse & Hound brings you stories with a difference from the British Dressage NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury (12-16 April)

When a 14-year-old Abi Uden set out on the hunt for a pony for her to bring on to do some dressage, she probably never dreamt that one day her purchase would be competing in the advanced medium silver finals at the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships.

In 2012 Abi bought Rain Dance (or Danny Boy as he’s known at home) from Germany with the help of trainer Char Lassetter.

“He couldn’t even canter a 20m circle,” says Abi who was placed at the prelim national championships with Danny in 2013.

Now 18-years-old, Abi has started a veterinary medicine course at the University of Surrey.

“I realised that I couldn’t dedicate enough time to Danny’s training so last Autumn I sent him to Julia Walker so that she could continue his training,” explains Abi.

Julia, who is the head girl at Molcombe Stud at Goodwood for Abi’s trainers,  John and Char Lasstter, made her winter championship debut with Danny this year (13 April). Together they produced a score of 66.21% to finish ninth in the advanced medium silver.

“This was the goal,” says an emotional Abi. “We do it all for fun and he’s a real family pony — anyone can ride him.”

“It was nice to be in the main arena. Danny found another gear in there today,” explained Julia of the pony who is now for sale.

The championships almost didn’t happen for Julia and Danny, though when her lorry’s rear lights stopped working at 8pm while on the M4 en-route to Hartpury.

“We were driving along and these cars kept overtaking and pulling back in front of us, turning their lights on and off. We had no idea what was wrong so we pulled over into Membury services and realised what had happened,” explains Julia. “We tried Googling how to fix the lights but that was no good, so we had to call out some roadside assistance.One hour later, the recovery arrived and another hour after that we were back underway. We arrived six hours after leaving (the journey should have taken three hours) at 10.30pm.”

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Julia was very grateful to the team at Hartpury who made sure they were all settled in, even in the middle of the night.

“Everyone was so helpful and I want to thank them for that,” says Julia.

For a full report from the British Dressage winter championships and the Area Festival final — as well as news, views and expert comment — pick up a copy of Horse & Hound magazine next Thursday (20 April).