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Winter SJ Qualifiers - Saturday 18th January

We were delighted to be taking 13 horse & rider combinations to the area 7 winter showjumping qualifiers at the lovely premier venue of the College Equestrian Centre. As I drive over to Keysoe, I pass a couple of our 70cm riders making their way to the venue. It is a beautiful morning with the sun rising over the cold crisp arenas when I arrive and our first riders set to work preparing to compete in the first class of the day, the 70cm. Tayte moon and Cuba LCH Z are first up in the junior section. Tayte does incredibly well to coax her youngster around the warm up and have some lovely jumps but unfortunately Cuba gets a little stage fright resulting in elimination and withdraws from the second round. Georgina Angood is up next with the 18 year old Tilly, who whizzes round clear for their first round, and have an unfortunate pole in the strongly built second round. Finishing on a total of 4 faults. Diane Delaney flies round the first course with Miss T Ification to achieve a lovely clear. On the pair go to the second round, riding a cracking clear resulting in a very well deserved 2nd place individually. Meanwhile the 80cm team arrive and fellow member Katy Briggs who is unable to ride pops by to provide some support to the 70cm team and cheer the ladies on. First set of riders done and we move on to the 80cm team of four. Ella cloake and Silver Stroke Star Struck get the 80cm started with their first event back after an injury. They have a lovely first round but unfortunately have a bit of a wiggle on the way in to fence 3 and take a pole down there. Off Ella goes to the indoor arena to prepare for her second round. Next we have Helen Nicholls and Angelo of Dalwhinnie providing the team with a textbook clear. Running back into the indoor arena I give Ella a quick jump before she goes in for her second round adding beautiful clear to the record sheet.

Back out in the outdoor arena and it’s Jo Rimmell with Primitive Gold who add another lovely clear round for first rounds. Now Helen is back in the ring for her second round, Angelo knows his job and gets it done giving the team a double clear.

Now for our final rider Sarah Kennedy and Hainton Steve (yes Steve! The grey in the team of bays) who have a great time in their first round but get a little to close to the first part of the double and drop the back rail off of the Oxer, finishing on 4 faults.

Jo heads in for her second round, unfortunately the pair have a pole at fence 3 and then a pole on the Oxer at the first part of the double, but make a good recovery to get out of the double leaving the second part standing. Ella, chairman Pip, our lovely volunteer Tracy (Pips roped in sister) and Katy have joined the ground party whilst the riders have been in and out, holding coats, filming and been great team support. Sarah is up with Steve in the indoor arena to tackle the up to height second round, they provide a very respectable second round with only 4 faults having one pole coming out of the double.

We are delighted to find that the team had coming in team 2nd, and all take home a blue rosette. The 90cm course is up and it’s all hands on deck as we get the team walked and prepared - fortunately we have wonderful team spirit as usual and everyone gets involved. Kate Bouchier and her 19 year old Dexters Calico Joe get to work to mark a clear round on the record for their first round. Quickly following Kate is Tina Kavanagh with CVS Dixie Chick, who make sure they are not left out and are up there in the clear rounds too. Kate warms up again as she the first to face the rather beefy second round,.This doesn’t bother Dexter’s Calico Joe as he makes easy work of the course with some tight turns to big oxers and breezes home with a stylish clear. We put a rug on Joe, give him a pat and the ground party dash back outside for Trudy Johnson with her young Kohinoor who are now in the ring for their first round. Some lovely riding means they finish on 4 faults due to an unlucky pole. With only about 8 riders between each of our riders I’m now running between rings to keep an eye – definitely earning myself a glass of wine or 2 for the evening! Tina and CVS Dixie Chick have a quick warm up again and they are off. They get a little deep and close to the Oxer going in the double but Dixie knew what to do - she picks up her hooves nice and close and gets them out of trouble. Double Clear for Tina! Ella Cloake is on her second ride of the day Donzento Z, who enters the ring and gets going, keen to add a good round to the list. And they don’t disappoint with a swift clear round. Ground party of myself, Pip, Tracy, and Mary Cloake are starting to do the maths, and we think me might just be in with a chance. No pressure ladies!!! Trudy and the scopey youngster Kohinoor are in, as we now watch on the edges of our seats (though we were standing) as they have a super round only clipping the second from last fence, a big Oxer on a tight turn resulting in 4 faults.

Do we now tell Ella the current scoring or not as as she enters the indoor arena for our final team round…? Ella and Donzento clip fence 4, then Donzento decides to have a bit of fun jumping very big over fence 5 and the pair have a discussion about pace on the dog leg down to fence 6 the double. Unfortunately the take the top two poles off of the Oxer going in to the double but recover very quickly and get out of the double leaving part B untouched they make it round the rest of the course clean. Horses all loaded and comfortable, we regroup in the cafe eagerly waiting the results. It’s not long so we rush outside to and we are delighted to see the team have team 2nd and 4th place for Kate individually. Brilliant!!

At this point, I decide its time for me to head home for the day to rest my weary legs. I’ve clocked up 5.6 miles running between arenas to help everyone, but what a day I’ve had!

Trudy Johnson still has 2 more horses to go in the 100 individual class, and puts in 2 more lovely rounds to end on a very respectable 4 faults with each. 3 horses in one day…now that’s dedication to the team!

A fabulous day was had by all, and a massive thank you to all the supporters & volunteers that helped on the day. We really couldn’t do it without you!

Photos courtesy of hoof prints photography.

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