National Championships 2014
For the second year running, the National Riding Club Horse Trials Championships were held at the magnificent Swalcliff Equestrian Centre near Banbury in Oxfordshire.
My sister Isabella and I, along with Emma Harwood qualified for Finn Valley. I was in the 100+, Isabella- the Junior 100 and Emma in the Senior 90. Due to the low numbers of teams in the 100m and 100+, Isabella and I were entered as team members of Area 14 teams. British Riding Clubs run a very well organised event and we are very pleased that despite the obvious mammoth task, they continue to run the Championships as a long format three day event for the 100’s and a two day event with roads and tracks for the 90’s.
We arrived on the Thursday and settled the horses in. Twix my horse, who is now a seasoned traveller (especially as he had just come back from France three days before !) settled in very well, but Holly, Isabella’s young horse, had never seen a plastic stable before and was a little hesitant to go in. She was a little insecure initially but gradually settled, unfortunately not quite enough before the dressage the next day and gave a rather unsettled test whilst whinnying for Twix the whole time! Unfortunately the judge, despite the horizontal rain and windscreen wipers going, still managed to hear her! It was not Holly’s finest hour. Twix did a lovely test and I was very pleased with him.
The next day the weather was really pretty awful. Isabella went early on and it was truly unknown territory as she did not know how Holly would cope with the roads and tracks and then the steeplechase. She took to it all like a duck to water and sailed round it all, not even having to have a second heart rate taken in the 10 minute box, as she was so calm and settled. She then did a lovely clear round the x-c course which was again a challenging track and very hilly. Isabella was delighted.
Twix and I went later in the day and despite Twix getting thoroughly over excited on the roads, tracks and steeplechase, he jumped very well but unfortunately had a problem at the jump coming out of the water which needed a very steady and controlled turn before it. Twix was not in a ‘steady and controlled’ mood!! It was a shame as he jumped the rest of the course really well. My other team members either had a problem at the same fence or were eliminated, so despite Twix show jumping well the next day, we were not placed. Holly jumped a lovely clear round show jumping the next day and were very pleased to have been placed third in the team event along with Cariad Miles-Taylor and Daisy Murry.
Emma, who had never done long format event with roads and tracks before, had a very good weekend. Lying fifth after the dressage and with a clear show jumping on the first day, they continued their good form going clear in the speed and endurance phase. She was very pleased with her horse who she has not had for very long. She remained in 5th place in a very hard fought competition.
We all had a marvellous time and are very grateful to our club for the support given enabling us to compete at such a great competition.
Report by Shirley Stagg
Lincoln Showground was once again the venue for the National Riding Clubs Championships. This year Finn Valley sent qualifiers in the Intermediated Team show jumping (Julia Sheppard, James Smith, Shirley Stagg and Amy Curl), an individual in the Open show jumping (Rosie Stevens) and a senior in the Style jumping (Julia Sheppard).
All the horses and most of the riders along with some very able, entertaining and supportive ground crew (Jackie and Francis Street), travelled up to Lincoln on the Friday evening. We settled the horses in, had a ride to loosen them up around the steeplechase course, and then had a wonderful barbeque – altogether a very jolly evening!!
Amy, who only gave birth to baby Georgina in May, travelled up on Friday night with Ben and Georgina, but only came to the show ground on Saturday morning. Amy did a fantastic job getting herself and her horse Lucy fit for the competition and rode a wonderful clear first round, just incurring a few time faults. Julia, James and Shirley each had a pole in the first round. In the second round, Shirley went clear, James and Julia had a pole each and Amy had a couple down. We finished on a score of 20 and were obviously not going to repeat our fantastic win of last year, but we all felt that everyone had jumped really well and we were just slightly unlucky this year.
The only criticism of the whole weekend is that there is no score board that is kept up to date and so even when we left at 6.30pm we still had no idea how we had done! We eventually found out that we had come 9th which we were incredibly pleased about. Rosie had qualified for the open show jumping which took place in the very grand main ring.
The jumps were a very good size and the track long and twisting. Alwyn jumped a little hesitantly but cleared everything and Rosie was very pleased with him. The second round was enormous and Alwyn had really found his jumping rhythm and jumped a lovely confident round, just making one mistake at a very large parallel. They did not get placed but had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. A thank you must go to Gordon for once again being photographer extraodinaire!! He not only takes photos but mucks out, pushes wheelbarrows and carries water buckets. Invaluable!!
During the afternoon, Julia went off and did her Style jumping and although Abi jumped very well, they were not placed.
Again, a big thank you for the club support given to the competitors and also to Barbara Smith for not only being such a great organiser but also a great provider of all things tasty over the weekend. A great time had by all!!
Report by Lucy Stagg