Cara Shardlow’s Blog: A headline-making start to the year!

Cara Shardlow shares the excitement of her first regional title – but this is just the tip of the dressage iceberg, with the Nationals on the horizon! We caught up with Cara to get all the behind-the-scenes info and emotions to share with you!

“Well 2015 could not have got of to a better start, all the horses have been on top form! Our main focus were the regional finals at Bishop Burton at the beginning of February, this is always a big of a nightmare to get enough training in with the winter weather but the new arena that was put in over Christmas thanks to my Dad was a God-send and allowed me to get more in than normal.”

“I took Detonator and Rhythmic Times who contested 5 classes between them. On the first day Detonator came 3rd in the medium open freestyle which I was thrilled with but just missed out on our national ticket by one place, I was beginning to wonder wether I would ever get above 3rd at a regionals as that was my third one in a row. The next day I was the first competitor on at 8am in the advanced medium restricted with Detonator which I thought would go against us but he behaved impeccably producing a lovely test keeping calm in his flying changes to give us 70%, it was then a nerve wracking wait until the end of the class to see if we could hold our lead with some brilliant combinations to come. Rhythmic Times did a nice test as well in the same class but was a little exuberant in the final flying change but gained a PB for himself at a regionals. Eventually the final results were out and we had done it Detonator and I were the regional champions!! My first regional title – I still can’t believe it as I write this, and we have our ticket to the nationals! I was also very pleased as Rhythmic Times gained 6th place as well.”

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“I had to get myself back together for the advanced medium freestyle on both horses in the afternoon, it was a huge class with some very established combinations competing so I didn’t think I stood a chance as Detonator is still relatively young compared to a lot in the class. Again, both horses pulled all the stops out and produced lovely tests leaving Detonator in 4th on a huge 72.61% and Rhythmic Times in 14th. I have just found out Detonator’s score was good enough to gain a wild card to the nationals so I’m now taking both horses; Detonator competing in two classes and Rhythmic times in the Pet Plan finals in April.”

“After all the excitement of the regionals with various magazine and newspaper reports the big boys had a little break giving me time to get the two youngsters out. Our first trip was to Port Royal where they both did two novice classes Measure for Measure (MFM) had not been out since last November so was a little on his toes but produced a regional qualifying score and 2nd place. Sandonista was next on this was his first affiliated Novice classes so I didn’t expect anything of him as he is so big and struggles a bit in the 20x40m arenas but he was brilliant and produced two qualifying scores and was joint 2nd with MFM, I was so pleased with him, I think he enjoyed showing MFM how it should be done!”

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“They then both went out to Northallerton and doing novices again I could not have been more pleased in the first class Sando and MFM gained huge scores of 76% and 74% getting first and second place? Sandonista also completed his summer regional qualification so that three horses qualified now with just MFM left to qualify. Back from their break Detonator and Rhythmic Times were going well and I had been allowed to upgrade my rider group to allow me to do Prix St George and above so we went to our first one last week. Detonator did an advanced class first and went beautifully ganging 68.89% my highest at that level and winning. Then it was the PSG I was so nervous as there were a couple of people with GB flags on their jackets competing I felt like a fish out of water, I was annoyed with myself as I let it affect my riding making very silly mistakes but we did ok and I got a qualifying score for the area festival, lots to work on but I’m desperate to get out and do another as soon as I can it felt like I was doing proper dressage!!”

“Now it’s full steam ahead to the Winter Nationals in April, I can’t wait there is lots of hard work to put in before I go but I’m so determined to do better than last year, very exciting!! The horses are all looking great with the help of their Horslyx, the mini licks are proving invaluable for shoeing the youngsters, my farrier thinks they are brilliant and is getting other clients to use them! They youngsters out in the field love theirs, I’ll soon be swapping them back onto their garlic lick ready for when the flies come out. So wish me luck for the Nationals and I’ll let you know how I got on next time!”