Report written by Alice Strang-Steel
Hosting the penultimate match of our BUCS league on Wednesday 26th February 2014 got off to a ropey start Firstly a lack of volunteers right until the last minute meant that running the competition was going to be logistically stressful.
Luckily Clark, Ginny and Lottie kindly agreed to come along and they stewarded the arenas with military efficiency. On arriving at Hilltop for the competition, and having done the horse draw for the dressage, we were alarmed by there being no sign of the judge to start the dressage at 10.15. After many unanswered calls and a half hour delay, we decided to create a plan B. Luckily, Eva was at Hilltop for the day, and having never trained any of our team, was able to step in and judge the competition, with agreement from the other team captains.
Our team draw for the order of horses in the dressage wasn’t ideal – we had Cambridge riders on Fenya first, with little warm up to get her supple and working long over her back, and on Lala last when she would be exhausted and behind the leg. However, everyone rode accurate tests, with the horses working in nice rhythms, with suppleness and a soft contact. This put us in a very strong position after the dressage – having acquired only one penalty between us! In particular Ali scored an outstanding 200 out of 250 riding Astra.
Everyone managed to eat lunch between tests, meaning that we could move straight from the dressage onto building the show jumping course and showing the horses. The jumping horses used were Trev, Brambles, Pebbles and Holly – their forwardness and Trev’s aversion to the outside leg aid may have slightly surprised some of the other team members. Three strong clear rounds placed Ollie, Lottie and Alice on 0 penalty difference scores following the jumping phase. And the total jumping penalties of 15 were a small addition to the one penalty in dressage.
Cambridge finished on 16 penalties, streaks ahead of the other teams finishing on 134, 185 and 291. The individual scores were similarly impressive. Ollie and Alice finished on 0 penalty totals and were placed 1st and 2nd respectively, based on their collective scores. Lottie took 4th place, with just one penalty and Ali was placed 5th. We were all really pleased with the results and grateful to Sharon for providing the selection of horses and helping to run the competition, Eva for agreeing to judge at the very last minute, and the helpers both from the yard and the university who made sure that the competition ran very smoothly.