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.”
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).