H&H dressage editor’s Area Festival video diary: Disbelieving the results of my small and fairly average horse

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

Driving home from the British Dressage winter championships still disbelieving the results that my small and fairly average horse managed to produce, I’m reflecting on why this show at Hartpury is always such a good one.

It has the full package — the best of the amateur circuit plus classes for the pros. It brings parts of the dressage community together who otherwise may never meet.

That spirit of inclusivity is particularly apparent in the stables. Competitors from the winter championships and the Area Festival finals are all mixed up together in the stables and there is such positivity and friendliness, having been there for five days I can tell you that that was universal. British team riders, international riders, and prelim Petplanners all muddle along together — it’s exactly how horse sport should be.

This year the weather was mostly kind — which it isn’t always, with only a couple of real downpours, however my ginger colleague Lucy did manage to get burnt on the first day, when the temperature barely touched 10 degrees.

The stewards at this show cannot go with out a mention. Dan Chapman — who would be able to organise a cat-herding tournament — is on hand from dawn until well after dark with his ever-ready smile and sensitivity towards stressed/upset/elated/giddy competitors and their connections. The whole stewarding team keep the show on the road and I hope they receive the thanks that they are due.

Perhaps this year the standard of the PSG and inter I freestyles wasn’t as high as in recent years, but the gala evenings are still enjoyable spectacles.

However, there is talk of this show hosting the final of some sort of small tour series in future, instead of being invitational, which would be a really positive move.

On the Area Festival front, the inclusion of inter I for the first time in 2015 has been fantastically well received, and as far as I can tell there is scope and demand for the series to go all the way up to grand prix.

As the curtain came down on the winter championships, and Sadie Smith saluted at the end of her test aboard River Rise Escarla, the era of open and restricted sections was consigned to the history books.

The shiny new sections are only just bedding in, with a lot of people unsure of where or how they fit in. This, according to Judy Firmson-Williams is discouraging some from competing, but BD’s stats show an increase, so it’s obviously not scared too many people off.

There are still some cogs which don’t quite mesh together correctly, but the whole BD team is receptive to feedback.

Once I’ve worked out where the new system leaves me, Fab and I may yet don our top hat and tails and try a spin around an advanced, and, if we get really daring, perhaps a PSG. One thing’s for sure, if we do attain the heady heights of advanced, I will not get a wink of sleep night before the test.

Catch up with earlier episodes of Fab TV:

Blog one: Dead sheep and lazy swans

Blog two: A weighbridge, ice cream and escaping

Blog three: Interrupted by Charlotte Dujardin

Blog four: Playing with the ‘proper’ horses

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