Writtle College (26/11/14)

Cambridge University Equestrian Team

 Second Team — BUCS Match hosted by Writtle College, Chelmsford, 26th November 2014

Written by Katy Surman & Holly Mason


Victorious 2nd Team (L-R Katy Surman, Mary Tivey, Kate Garnett, Holly Mason)

The first BUCS match of the season for Cambridge University Equestrian Second Team was hosted by Writtle College in Essex and the competition was held between the mini-league of CUET 2nds, Writtle College 2nds, Royal Veterinary College 3rds and University of East Anglia 2nds. The team that travelled to Writtle consisted of Holly Mason (St John’s), Kate Garnett (St John’s), Mary Tivey (Girton) and Katy Surman (Churchill); Holly, Kate and Katy were making their debut as part of CUET. Captain of the CUET 2nd Team Ollie Coombe-Tennant (Selwyn) accompanied the team to coach them and offer some insight, in between cups of tea and unlimited crumpets.

The competitors first draw 2 random horses, one for a dressage test and one for the showjumping in the afternoon, with one member of each team riding each horse, with a very short warm up each. Holly was drawn first to go for CUET on a small, excitable pony called Lily. Despite the short warm up time, she quickly settled her, before riding a fabulously relaxed test, gaining the best score on the pony. Mary was very lucky and drew a big police horse for this phase, who had reportedly been present at the Olympics, and again produced a lovely test. Kate was less fortunate as she drew the most challenging horse by far, but with Ollie’s advice during the warm up, successfully rode the best test on her horse, adding another faultless score for Cambridge. Katy unluckily drew her horse last, meaning that it had already done three tests and was understandably rather tired, but despite an off-putting pilot error, managed to keep up the momentum throughout!

At the end of the dressage phase, Cambridge had a pleasing lead, on 47 penalties, with Holly and Kate on zero penalty scores. The nearest team to them were RVC, a full 20 penalties behind.

Holly and her dressage ride, Lily

The showjumping horses at Writtle were in fact all ponies (or very small horses) but this did not phase any of CUET, who were used to training on ponies and horses alike. The showjumping course included a very tricky dog-leg element and a rather bright union jack oxer, which caught out many riders (including those demonstrating the horses before the competition!) though thankfully none from Cambridge – good advice from Ollie during the coursewalk was put into practice when they rode their rounds.

Mary was first to go for Cambridge, and had drawn to ride Sam; who is becoming a famous face at Writtle College, known for his speed and lack of brakes! Unfortunately, Mary being drawn first to go meant that he was wired up and ready to go, but she did admirably and managed to complete the course when others on the same horse did not. Kate also drew a speed-merchant of a horse, who needed a lot of help to get around the tight corners of the school. Everyone on this horse had run-outs and refusals, or was eliminated, but Kate did a fantastic job with her steering skills and piloted it around superbly to secure the best score on this difficult horse. Holly’s horse had a rather unconventional way of going, and was very long, but Holly managed to shorten it as much as possible and maneuver him around the course with her usual flair and elegance. Katy was unfortunate again in drawing her horse last to go, meaning that it was very tired. Despite knocking all the poles down in the warm up, she conjured enough momentum to get around clear in style!

Despite some issues with a few mistakes in the scoring at first, it was resolved and overall, Cambridge 2nds maintained their lead from the dressage phase, thus winning the match. Kate managed to maintain her zero score, and so final places are decided on the ‘collective’ marks; how the judge judged each rider’s position, style and effectiveness. Kate ended up 2nd on the collective marks, a fantastic result for her first CUET match! Holly finished just behind in 4th, with Mary narrowly missing out on the rosettes in 7th. A fantastic result all round from CUET, putting them in first place in the league; a very strong place going into the next few matches.