British Riding Club


Horse Trials Championships at Swalcliffe

Friday 02 August 2013


  • Deno - 5th

The weather forecast was set fair and we had all the original qualifying team members (Lauren Rixon/Colour Me Danny, Sarah Pook/Top Pride – aka Hughie, Jacqui Young-Ballinger/Dandy Deno Danty and Mandy White/Simonty). The convoy set off on Friday early afternoon hoping to miss the worst of Friday afternoon traffic – Swalcliffe is just past Blenheim so the trip isn’t too far. Unfortunately Jacqui had a blow out just as she joined the A34, scary as the had her family and her horse on board.

We took the difficult decision to press on ahead of her to get the camp pitched and the stables sorted. Jacqui arrived an hour or so after us. Our camp spot was near perfect, on the end of the line of lorries overlooking the water fence and show jumping with beautiful views and a short walk to the horses. We managed a quick hack around the roads and tracks whilst our huge support crew got the BBQ going.

It was up early for me to plait and perform my test at 8.30, with hour gaps pretty much between our tests, then on to show jump an hour or so later. The show jumping course was well built, good, shiny fences with a reasonable width to them and some reasonably technical distances and turns, good news for us as we had four experienced and bold show jumpers. We all finished dressage and show jumping with PB dressage score for Mandy and Monty, a very good arena placing for Jacqui and three clears show jumping. A good first day leaving us eighth overnight. We headed off to walk the cross country and discuss timing. The course was very hilly, with some twists and turns, really inviting and up to height, though the time looked easy to make based on the 80 and 100 scores from the day before. We were particularly looking forward to the pigeon fence before the water and the fox on the approach home. After we’d walked the course twice, decided on routes and times, we had enough time for one more short hack round phase A of the roads and tracks to check watches and speed, then the horses got put to bed and the BBQ came out again with a celebration for Paul, Jacqui’s husband’s, birthday.

On Sunday morning we were due to start after the trot up for the 100 class three day event, so we watched a few trot up, walked bits of the course again, got our 10 minute box kit ready. Then it was time to stud up and head off. It was much cooler with a bit of drizzle, much welcomed. Hughie stormed round the roads and tracks and was very bold on the steeplechase. I was pleased to have extra brakes in the 10 minute box, we passed the vet check, put on the flash noseband and went off to the start box …. Then my only mishap – my stopwatch wouldn’t start! I have to confess that I would rather have had it then as it is easier to ride to time without one than keep doing sums and working out how far I’d gone before it did start. Anyhow, we had a fab xc round, Hughie was a star, and we did clock up a few time faults from my watch fiasco. Mandy was due round after me and when she failed to appear on time in the 10 minute box the support team flew into action. She had fallen on the steeplechase, her ankle was damaged, and the paramedics were great. Monty was fine but poor Mandy then spent the rest of the day in the lorry. Meanwhile Lauren was heading off, the 10 minute box team turned to duty and Jacqui’s family took on timing duties. Danny found the roads and tracks very exciting and after a good wash off he was passed by the vet and off Lauren went. They flew round xc with vocal support over the pigeon and through the water: they finished clear and within the time, fantastic stuff. Last to head off was Jacqui: Deno, her veteran performer, completed the roads and tracks like a 5 year old and was fit and ready to go xc very quickly. Jacqui flew out the start box and we all cheered her progress. They did a lovely clear xc and finished in 5th place individually in her arena …. Big respect from the whole team for Jacqui and her 21? Year old Deno. Despite our three xc clears, our very few time faults just dropped us down to ninth, but we were so delighted to finish in the placings and get our big frilly rosettes. Photos and videos bought, we headed off in convoy, Ken heading to QA A&E with Mandy. So relieved to hear the next day nothing was broken and Mandy had ligament damage. Such a fun weekend, our supporters and helpers were all great, the camp atmosphere relaxed and funny, the horses greatand the venue awesome. We all want to go back next year …. Thanks Meon RC for giving us such an opportunity.