At the end of October last year, the Burgess Hill School for Girls Dressage Team comprising of Year 11 students Johanna Lawless, Rachael Hawkins, Alice Reffin and myself, Sarah Rogers, made the trip to the prestigious venue of Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire, for the NSEA National Championships.
For me this is the highlight of my competition year as this is the fourth year running in which our school team has qualified for the championships.
We travelled up on 24th October because Rachael, Alice and I were all due to compete in the warm-up class that afternoon. After settling the ponies it was time to plait and make them look presentable! The warm-up test was very useful to get the ponies used to the buzzing atmosphere and the size of the arenas.
The ponies all behaved really well and we were feeling quietly confident about the team tests the next day. My horse Lady and I picked up a pleasing fifth place. Rachael and her horse Sonny qualified for the 1m10 show jumping championship; after a shaky start they managed a fantastic round over a challenging course.
The following day, Johanna and Alice competed first in their prelim class, and both produced really nice tests. Johanna managed to come sixth place in her arena, and Alice came sixteenth place on her horse Henry, who was competing at Addington for the first time.
Later in the day, Rachael and I were due to compete in our novice classes. I was quite pleased with my test and felt that Lady was a lot more relaxed than in previous years. Lady and I managed to achieve sixth place in our arena as well. Rachael rode a nice test but had trouble with Sonny’s counter canter, losing a number of marks but still came a respectable fifteenth place. Our team managed to come an incredible tenth place out of 24 teams, which is a great improvement from the previous year when we achieved 22nd place!
We were all very excited to support Rachael’s ‘Jumping With Style’ championships which comprises of show jumps and indoor cross country fences. For me, who likes to keep all four feet on the ground, the course looked incredibly big! The competition was a very high standard, with the winner having represented Great Britain! Rachael managed a fantastic seventh place.
On Sunday, three of us competed in individual competition. In the morning, Johanna competed in her Prelim individual class. Her horse DJ looked lovely, and Johanna achieved an impressive 68% and seventeenth place.
I had qualified for both the Elementary and Prelim individual competitions, but I had to pull out of the Prelim because my horse Lady was feeling rather stiff after her first class. I was fairly pleased with my Elementary test, although Lady ‘accelerated’ rather too much in her medium canter! I lost four marks because I had to add an extra circle to regain control! I still managed to achieve 69% and third place up against some very smart-looking horses!
Rachael again produced a lovely test and her horse Sonny maintained his counter canter beautifully. Rachael did extremely well to come ninth place as this was only her second Elementary level test!
As ever, the team spirit was excellent with all team members supporting one another. We are grateful for the support from the school and our team trainer who helped and supported us throughout the year.
We are looking forward to trying to qualify for the 2015 competition!
Pictures contributed by Burgess Hill School for Girls.