H&H blogger Laura Szuca pulled a personal best out of the bag to go into first place after dressage in the introductory class at the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships.
Laura, who hails from nearby Leighton Buzzard, produced a flowing test aboard her own Mikey to score 25.5 in the first phase of the three-day-event.
This leaves the combination almost four penalties clear of second-placed Emily Finston and Tiercel Eclipse, who scored 29.25. Hot on their heels in third ahead of cross-country day is Sally Pidsley and Tranwheal Tineth Moon on 29.75.
“When my phone rang and my friend said ‘do you want to know your score?’ I knew she was excited and I asked her ‘did it start with a two?’ and she said yes,” Laura told H&H, adding Mikey took the atmosphere “in his stride”.
“For me as soon as I saw [the championships] I had to enter because you don’t get a chance like this at low level.
“I only compete at 70cm and am aim for British Eventing, but I saw it and thought ‘ok, I’ll get ready’.
“It is just a really great chance to have the big atmosphere, the showjumping in the big main arena and the trot-up, which isn’t something our level would be used to.
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She bought the 12-year-old coloured gelding – “a pretty relaxed character” – from a dealer two-and-a-half years ago and admitted she fell off when she tried him as he spooked at a pheasant.
Laura fits in riding around her day job in advertising at Global Radio and credits the help she has had from Candice Pottage for helping her get here today.
“When you work as well, if you want to do it properly you have to get out of bed early in the morning and not get home until late at night,” she added. “And I want to try and do it well.”
Don’t miss the full report from the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships in next Thursday’s issue (8 June)