Cara Shardlow’s Blog: The Championships!

After I last wrote, Rhythmic Times and Detonator were having a well-earned rest after their brilliant results from the Regionals and Area Festival. Soon after I received conformation that Detonator had been selected to compete for England and the North at this years BD Home International (HI), he will be competing at advanced medium level this year after his win at medium level last year.

Both the big boys were back in action at Northallerton in September, a pre HI run for Detonator. Both behaved brilliantly doing advanced medium and advanced classes. It was Detonator’s first advanced so I had no real expectations of him, but he preformed all the new movements really well, including the tempi changes, giving me a new personal best of 68.50%. Rhythmic Times was only just behind him, with both horses gaining the top two scores in both classes. This was a huge confidence boost the week before the HI!

So, a week later we were setting off to Arena UK for the team competition, it was lovely to have it so close for once and only a 3 hour drive compared to 7 hours last year! I was competing on the Northern Kestrel team with another 3 members; on the Friday we had the warm up classes, Detonator and a lot of the others were finding the atmosphere quite electric! It felt like I was riding an unexploded bomb at times, but he only exploded once leaving us on a 66% score, but still winning the class against stiff competition from Scotland, Wales and Ireland. He sailed through the trot up on Friday afternoon putting in a rear just to show off to everyone! Friday evening was the opening ceremony, with a theme of “all things bright and beautiful” for the teams, it certainly was colourful with our team mascot Juni the Shetland pony dressed up in all things purple for the Northern colours. It was a lovely way to start the weekend’s competition. Saturday saw the first team tests, we were in the indoor arena, which is never the best for us, plus we were first to go. After being so stupid in the warm up arena and nearly ending up on the floor a couple of times I really had to keep my cool. As we entered the arena he grew another two hands, but barring one mistake in a simple change he pulled off a brilliant test, scoring 69.40% and held our lead until the end of the class, finishing in first place. Unfortunately, the rest of my team had mixed fortunes in the horrible wind and rain and it was definitely the best day to be inside!

So the pressure was on for Sundays competition, I really could not afford to make many mistakes as there was less than half a percent between me and second place, as a result I got very little sleep on Saturday night! After the last two days of over exertion, he decided that he was tired, so I was struggling in the warm up to get him on my aids. As we entered the arena he was lacking the sparkle I needed, but we produced a safe test with just one mistake in a flying change. I was over the moon when I found out we had done enough to win the championship, it was incredibly close with just point five between me and second and the top three places were taken by Northern riders in the advanced medium and my team finished third of all the Northern teams. I’m still in shock now that we won, especially as we had gone into the competition as reining medium champions from last year’s event in Scotland and we even got a lovely photo and write up in Horse and Hound. Detonator is now on a little break before going out to do some more advanced and hopefully PSG with both him and Rhythmic Times before the end of the year.

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I have sadly sold Regal Lilly, but she has gone to a super new home and I hope to see them out and about soon. Her brother, Archie, has done a very good job this year of injuring himself, getting one after the other and has not competed since June, but hopefully we are back on track now. He was getting a bit stroppy with the farrier, but Mini Horslyx has worked a treat and as soon as he is offered one he stands like an angel. I highly recommend Mini Horslyx and I will be taking some with me when I go off clipping client’s horses, to help keep them entertained!

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Sandonista, my 4 year old, is hopefully going to his first competition this weekend. Fingers crossed he behaves, I will let you know if I have survived next time!