West Oxfordshire Riding Club

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Competition Reports

Summer 2016 - What  a start to the year!

The Area 18 Dressage Qualifier event on 19th of June was a great day for the club. Abi Houghton taking the prize for best organizer here. We put up some great teams from WORC and hopefully still made a little profit despite the entries being lower than usual (The Horse Trail's clash didn't help here we suspect). We have the Juniors going off to Nationals in September with their Novice dressage team, and also the Riding Test too.  The seniors did rather well too, Lucy Larkman off to the Nationals for the first time. Also a pairs routine with committee members Yvonne and Mel trotting in sync  - what fun! We also Qualified the team both in the Dressage Test and Riding test for the new Regional South West and Wales Riding Club event. This event is being held at Hartpury on 20th of August and will include area 18 as well as other neighboring areas for a day of  great competition. Good luck to all our qualified teams!

(See our monthly newsletter for more reports of the fun! Credit to JME Photography (do check on Facebook for more of his great shots)

We have had a great start to summer (if not the weather) with lots going on - but below you will see our calendar is still full of fun for the rest of the year! We are planning a spring camp for 2017, so please do let us know if that would interest you, we haven't got many details yet, but keep your eyes peeled!

Hanslope Endurance Ride, Milton Keynes - 02.08.15

We had our biggest team, four, entered for this ride and were hoping to qualify another couple of rider/horse combinations for the Championships in September. Unfortunately, one of these ‘newbies’, Issy Searle’s Ready Shreddie Go, went lame a week before the ride and had to withdraw. Hopefully he is recovering well and will be able to do the Barbury Castle ride on 23rd August.

So, three were left and,  the little pocket rocket, Aries and Izzie Hale, went off in their usual energetic manner. Elaine Baber and Bryony Baxter managed a more sedately start (if you can call endurance sedate), although Bryony’s Borlando (aka Bambi) did get a bit excited at the beginning of the ride.  He eventually found that the ride was a bit further than he expected and settled down quite well. The ground was good and the weather lovely - it got warmer as the day went on.

All three managed not to get lost and finished without any vetting issues.  They all were well graded; 2 x Grade 2 and 1 x Grade 3. Poor Bryony got a bit dehydrated and so felt a bit sick at the end. I am not sure that the burger put under her nose to eat helped! Still, she has already entered the next ride. Good girl!

Well done ladies.
Natalie - WORC Endurance Team Manager

Stoneleigh Riding Club 2DE, Princethorpe College, Warks – 23-24.05.15

Owning a young horse is hard; you never know when they are really ‘ready’ for their first event. Having not competed in eventing for a while I was also feeling rusty. With a lovely woodland trail ‘roads and track’ section with some ‘soft brush’ steeplechase fences to warm up, a long format two day event sounded perfect! Honestly, where else can you get 2 days of fun for £70! Sign me up I thought!

That was back in March. April was consumed with frantic practice, every weekend it felt like I was getting out in the trailer with Penny practicing things from Dressage to Cross Country. The Combined training qualifiers were the perfect warm up; some lessons learned there were applied to this event. All through April I concentrated on trying to learn the speeds, being allowed a stop watch in this competition added some extra interest learning more about how fast Penny can canter. No worries with speed, we tracked her at 770 metres per minute easily (the BRC 80 only required 435!) helpful to note the fitness was on track too – after 8 minutes of cantering I pulled up with her only glowing and not the sweaty wreck I would have expected!

The Saturday consisted of a 4am start, 8am dressage and a 10am SJ. (Note to self, must enter the bigger classes to get a lay in!) Alex and I crammed my Land-rover full to the gunnels with 3 saddles, 3 bridles, a small bale of hay, two pairs of everything else and tent’s for the overnight stay too!  Penny and Pigeon of course traveled in style and comfort both being their usual chummy selves, like long lost best friends.

The whole event went by in an adrenaline fueled blur. Very exciting very fast and very ‘I want to do that again!’ – Penny’s first ever event and we finished the XC course clear! :-D The whole team were thinking the XC course was nice in places with suitable ‘meaty’ questions to really test us to the max. Returning to the Lorry park with the ‘clear’ news the whole team was totally ecstatic, only to be even more excited later by clear XC rounds from both Alex and Melaney in the 90cm class. My team in the 80 was made up with 2 riders from South Warwickshire, who sadly were both eliminated. So it was down to Alex and Mel in the 90cm (again mixed with 2 south Warwickshire riders to make a team of 4). The results were in and their team had come 6th a fabulous result for all! Heading home after a long weekend we all enjoyed a nice commemorative travel mug of drinks – apple juice for me and wine for the others of course.

A huge thanks to Alex Nadin the eventing team manager and my travel buddy/coach/water bottle keeper and sports psychologist. Also Melaney Baker, fellow WORC rider, for providing more moral support and some awesome brownies! We all had help from super grooms Faye Dobson (who is itching to have a go herself) and Gerry Baker official videographer for the day.

Keep the date pencilled in your diary for next year, such a fun event with a super friendly team of organizers. Let’s send a full WORC team to win it next time!

Penny of course though the whole thing was exhausting! I have some super course photographs for anyone who wants to see – but the photo that perfectly summed up the Monday afterwards is below.

Jenny Dawson

Festival of the Horse Area 18 Eventer Challenge Qualifier – Grange Farm Swalcliffe, 19.05.15

We had originally entered 100cm and 90cm teams, as well as two junior individuals, in this qualifier. Unfortunately we had to pull the 100 team due to horses being unfit or in one case too fit (and thus not permitted to be downgraded). Despite these issues WORC was well represented on the day. Running as individuals we had Tor riding Nuala in the 100 senior section and Chloe with Touch of Rhythm contending the junior challenge 90 class. Our remaining four riders formed a team for the senior challenge 90 - Pigeon and myself, Abi and Jack, Tor and Cormac, and Mel and Skye.

As is so often the case at the somewhat exposed Grange Farm in Swalcliffe there was a bitter wind blowing on Sunday morning as Abi and I watched Tor jump a stylish double clear with her first ride. Such a great start warmed us from the inside and it was soon time for us to get busy with walking the course, studding for the hard ground, tacking up and mounting our steads!

Pigeon and I were first up for the 90 team and after the issues I had experienced last year I must admit to being a bit nervous while warming up for our first proper cross country outing of the 2015 season. Pigeon though was not nervous… keen would be a more apt description of her state of mind! She gave me a great ride flying around double clear to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I got back in time to watch another lovely double clear from Mel and Skye, and position Pigeon so that Jack would have added incentive to jump the scary filler in the show jumping for Abi! He cleared it happily and yet again the stand in pony surprised us all and did the team proud despite a couple of poles show jumping and duck outs cross country. Abi’s main issue with Jack was a lack of steering - fortunately circles are permitted between fences across country! Tor also had a great run with her ‘Funky Pony’ Cormac just knocking one pole.
Sometime later I met Tor coming back from checking the results and proudly displaying her 6th place rosette for Nuala’s score of 2.8 in the challenge 100. “There’s 0.4 next to your name,” she told me. Cue complete incomprehension from me… I knew what the words meant separately but simply couldn’t fathom what this meant in the current context. “That’s good,” Tor reassured and off Jon and I trotted to see this mythical ‘0.4’. And there it was! One second too speedy had Pigeon in the lead, and with a 10.8 from Tor and a 2.00 from Mel the team was in a strong position. I was eventually knocked off the top spot when the fourth from last rider managed a double clear bang on the bogey time to post a score of zero (amazing results when you consider we are not allowed stop watches). A clear 2nd for Team Pigeon then, but things were not so clear for the Riding Club teams! With a growing sense of déjà vu I watched the maths being worked out. The WORC 90 team had tied for first place (anyone remember the National Champs in 2013). After much head scratching by the scorers and stewards we took 2nd place as we were slightly slower collectively to show jump, but there were big smiles all round, especially from me and Mel (who’s double clear had earned her 6th place as an individual).

With that done there was just the small matter of watching our individual junior Chloe ride to finish the day. It was yet another smooth double clear for the wonderful WORCers, with a miniscule score of 0.8 for a hat-trick of 2nd placings! The two day event at Prinethorpe College on 23-24th May is the next eventing outing for the club. I hope after such a strong start to the season all the runners and riders are feeling confident! As always do get in touch if you would like to join an eventing team or compete at any BRC events as an individual. We don’t care if you are super experienced or have never evented before… everyone is welcome to come play the allrounders game and we are a very supportive bunch!

Alex Nadin - Eventing Team Manager

March Hares, Forest of Dean Endurance Ride – 01.03.15

Not many endurance ride members of WORC have managed to keep their 4 legged friends fit over the winter so a riding club team was not on the cards just yet. As a member of EGB I thought I would test the water early this year to see how my horse’s fitness regime had fared over the winter so off we went on Sunday morning in bright sunshine although a bit chilly.

We arrived at the venue at about 9.15am to find the ground was well draining and therefore good to support the trailers and boxes. A little bit of a worry considering the rain we had had recently. I went and declared myself, collected my numbered bib and stickers for my hat and saddle (should the two of us get parted/have an accident) and went back to my box to prepare.

My allotted vetting time was 10.15am so I got myself ready to ride, hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and GPS watch. Sasha was unbooted and unloaded from the lorry and taken to the farrier for the hoof and shoe check. All well there and so off to the vet gate we went with plenty of time in hand. She passed heart, lungs, hydration, soundness and mouth checks and we were given approval to ride. She was saddled, bridled and booted and I put the map over my shoulder and we were off to the start.

We walked for a whole 200 yards before it dawned on her what was going on. The light bulb went on and we were off! OMG I didn’t know she was so fit. At about the last 1/2K we came to a very, very steep hill which, about half way up, finally made her walk. I managed to walk her most of the way home but she must have picked up the noise of the other horses at the venue and she was off again. Oh well, no rest for the wicked.

So, we did it in 2 hours 19 minutes at an average speed of 14.23kph. The maximum speed I am allowed to go at for Novice in EGB is 15kph (capped at 13kph in the Team Riding Club events)! She was very chilled when we got back and afterwards the vet gave her another thorough check and recorded a heart rate of 42bpm. This gave us a grade one - the highest grade - something I didn’t manage to achieve all last year. I am so thrilled. She thoroughly enjoyed herself. I wish I could have been a bit slower and enjoyed the scenery but Sasha is Sasha and she gets a buzz from going as fast as she can. I must stress that the speed did not gain her the Grade 1 but the low heart rate etc.

So, all in all we had a fabulous day and missed the really dreadful weather that came in the afternoon. I am looking forward to going out with our first Team Endurance at Tresham, Glos., on 28 March.

Watch this space.

If you want to have a taste of endurance riding, the Cotswold EGB are running a social ride on 3rd May at Cleeve Hill. There will be no vetting or farrier but the marking of the route will be the same as at an event. There is very little road work but follows tracks across the common, bridleways and some private land as well. There are distance loops of 8K, 12K and 8K (choose to ride one loop or all three and the cost is £18.00 for non) EGB members. It would be even more fun if a small group could get together and do it. Contact me if you want to know more.

Natalie Neal - WORC Endurance Team Manager

SEIB Riding Clubs Quadrille, Olympia International Horse Show - 21.12.14

As you all know WORC has an excellent quadrille.

We went up to London on Saturday 20th December and had a very good journey. First thing I really wanted to do (not sure if all the others did) was unload our wonderful horses onto the road, this made me and Dude feel like professionals!  We had our stables given to us and we started to unpack all our costumes from the cars! We had taken a tack locker for each horse with everything in it (thank-you Jasmine)! It took quiet a long time to unload however when it was done and all outside our stables it looked like tonnes for one night! We also went and got our wristbands! Thankfully Dad, Tom and Aaron drove the horseboxes to the parking and we started to move our stuff into accessible places, all our horses were absolutely amazing and settled in really well, we were lucky enough to have stables next to all of the Metropolitan Police Ride, The Ukrainian Cossacks and a barrier away from Michael Whittaker’s horses and himself! We got to our accommodation and got about five hours sleep due to the fact we refused to leave our ponies once we had watched the evening show jumping.

First thing that morning we were back and getting our wrists bands as well as tacking up for the warm up that morning that started at 7am. This was our first glimpse of the arena and it was absolutely amazing and we were riding with many a famous face! We then went back to our stables, cleaned our tack and started to get ready! Lisa glittered all sixteen hooves and herself! Aaron bandaged all the horses and Tom took some amazing photos of us and Dad was helping by holding horses for glitter application and helping us with appliance smoke! Just like before we all tacked up our own horses but we couldn't get down between the Police horses so we added wings and tail fins outside, we then went into the warm up and walked around until we were asked to get ready for costume judging, we stood against a blue background so it looked like we were in the sky! It went really well and they all behaved brilliantly, the first team went in and it started to sink in, we were last to go meaning we got quite a bit of space to warm up and then it was time to show them how it is done, as we walked down that tunnel there was a massive atmosphere made better by the Red Arrow Army wearing very nice hoodies! 

As the music started everything fell silent, it was a weird feeling to have that many people watching us intensively, the performance went very very well and we were super pleased but it was time for what we all wanted to do the most, we turned into our final diamond and smiled from ear to ear, we saluted to the crowd as usual and then it was time to gallop out of the tunnel! It was the most amazing feeling being able to do that and I will never forget how it felt. All the other teams were really supportive and saying well done however we wanted back in the arena for placing… fourth was Keysoe’s Full Monty, third was Witheridge’s Wonderful Wizards, second was West Oxfordshire’s RED ARROWS EQUINE DISPLAY TEAM and first was Saffron Walden’s Seven Dwarfs. We then moved into the order of placing and were presented with our dinner plate sized rosettes. We then got to trot around to the Olympia music and wave to the crowds as well as cantering out the tunnel once again! Afterwards we put our planes in their stables and went out to meet our fans and do some shopping! Then it was time to pack our stuff up and start loading horseboxes and reluctantly our planes! We had a smooth and shattering journey home, the whole experience was absolutely amazing and I would love to thank everyone who helped and supported us!


Morgan-Beth Crockford

Red 2

2014 Area 18 Winter Show Jumping Qualifier, Kings Equestrian, Bromyard - 18.10.14

After a few days of calls, emails and juggling names around, we were pleased to be able to send 3 teams to Kings Equestrian Centre, in Bromyard for the Area qualifiers, 1 team for each section (Junior, Senior Novice and Senior Intermediate), which was a first for some years.

It was touch and go for a while as ideally I would of liked to have had 4 riders in each section as the best 3 scores count but unfortunately this wasn't to be as one of the Junior riders horses wasn't able to travel the distance, one of the Senior Novice Team had to pull out as their employer (the RAF) decided to call them into work and another riders horse passport for the Intermediate level failed the vaccination record check, but luckily Tor Tearney agreed to bring 2 horses so filled one spot, and another rider had a spare horse so we swapped an entry, so with a bit of juggling we ran each team with 3 riders.

Everyone gave a really good effort, and although the teams didn't get placed there were some great individual results with a 1st individual for Georgia Amer and 3rd for Isabella Grace on the Junior Team.

We had mixed results for the Seniors. 

The Novice Team was 9th out of 13 and all rode really well especially allowing that 2 horses were babies and none had been in an indoor school. With the Intermediate Team the 1st round went well but the 2nd round course change took its toll and resulted in elimination for our 3rd rider so the team score couldn't count as we didn't have a 4th person, however we couldn't be too sad as the horse tried hard in round 1 and it was the first time at that height. The 2 remaining horses jumped amazingly and resulted in individual 5th and 9th out of a field of 27 so there was lots of smile and lots to like - well done everyone and a good effort all round – roll on 2015 x

Yvonne Lay, Show Jumping Team Manager


2014 BRC Endurance Championship,  Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells – 05.10.14 

Well, we intended to send four members to represent the Riding Club on Sunday 5th October. Sadly, 2 of those members were unable to make the final leaving just Elaine Baber and myself. This meant that we could not enter a team and would have to forgo the opportunity of riding the Red Dragon course. Having spoken to the organisers we were told that two other clubs, namely Cambridge Royal and Penzance were in the same boat and, if we were happy, we could make a team of six with them. So, ‘The Allsorts’ were born created from a team of 4 from WORC and Penzance plus 2 individuals from Cambridge.

Elaine travelled to the venue on Thursday with a colleague of ours, who was competing over three days there, and set up our corralling and parking while I transported her horse Akzent (Ace) with Dutch Adventure (Sasha). We arrived at the venue about 3.30 on the Saturday afternoon, unloaded our horses and settled them into their new ‘fields’ for the weekend. Luckily I saw the forecast and took a heavy duty rug with me as the temperature dropped overnight to 4 or 5 degrees. Brrr. We met all of our ‘team mates’ in the big office awaiting the BRC Team Briefing that evening and discovered that one of the Cambridge riders couldn’t bring her horse as it was lame that morning. And so there were 5. We had a good chat and discussed our likely strategy for the Sunday.


I was up at the crack of dawn checking on the horses and watching the first horse of that day’s competition leave at 7.30am in the semi-light to go into the layers of fog on the mountain. ‘Rather her than me’ I thought!

We had a pre-ride vetting time of 10.30am with a ride start at 11am. By then the sun was warming up the air and burning off the fog. We all passed the vetting even though Sasha was getting quite excited about starting having watched quite a few make the journey out of the start and down the track onto the course. The day was promising to be lovely.

We all just managed to hand over our start cards to the starting officials and set of as one group. It didn’t take long before one horse went in front with Sasha and her new ‘pal’ Harry went on together with Elaine riding along with another Natalie. We crossed some absolutely stunning land and the views were simply spectacular. We were blown away by the beauty of the area and absolutely amazed at how high we had climbed.

Gill Plumbley on her horse Mirjana went very fast at the end and finished about 10 minutes ahead of the rest of us. Although I on Sasha and Shirley Swanston on Harry went fast for most of the ride we slowed down for the last 5 or 6k. Elaine on Ace and Natalie Levens on My Moon Shadow did a very steady ride and caught up with Shirley and I just as we entered the track to the finish line. We also just about hit the fastest time allowed of 13kph. We just had to get through the post-ride vetting.

We have to present to the vet within 30 minutes of finishing the ride so we jumped off our horses, untacked and cooled them down as best we could to try and reduce their heart rate. Off we all went to see if we could all pass with sound and healthy horses…. Yes, we all got through with good scores in hydration, movement and heart rates. Wow!

The horses were all put back in their pens and we went off to get a drink and something to eat (a large coffee and a sausage & cheese bap) as we hadn’t eaten since about 8am and it was now about 4pm. Then we went to see how we had got on with our grading and collect our individual rosettes. The team had one grade one and three grade twos. We just had to wait for the scores now.

The presentation was at 4.30pm and all 14 teams gathered and sat with baited breath in one of the meeting rooms. All of the teams were presented with rosettes and our names didn’t come out first so, at least we weren’t 14th… or 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th… OMG we were 6th!!!

We were so happy that we, a rag tag group of girls from 3 different clubs could have achieved so much. It was a wonderful experience and the other endurance riders, of all levels including EGB, were so lovely and offered so much advice freely. I found a good friend this weekend as well as coming home with a very happy horse and 2 rosettes.

Natalie Neal

2014 National Dressage and Riding Test Championship at Lincoln - 6-7.09.14

I would just like to thank these girls so much for a brilliant weekend. Although we didn't finish in the ribbons we had so much fun and I believe the girls did the Riding Club proud. They were polite, helpful and gracious in defeat, remaining smiley and so completely thrilled with their horses.

Only Morgan and I had stayed away from home before but not with Dixie, so we were so proud that all the horses took it in their stride and Dawn hadn't even met Bethany before picking her and her horse up!

So thank you girls, fingers crossed you all qualify again next year!
Rachel Crockford (junior competitor Mum - aka, unpaid and under appreciated groom)

Morgan-Beth Crockford, Georgia Amer and Bethany Howard show their team spirit!

2014 Barbury Castle Endurance Ride - 10.08.14

The forecast for the Sunday was absolutely atrocious, as you all would have heard we were expecting the tail end of the hurricane!! Thankfully, by the time myself and Natalie had vetted our horses, the weather was holding off just in time. We started off with 4 riders in our West Oxfordshire Team prior to the event; however due to one of our new team members falling ill and the other two team members concern about the weather it just left me and my pocket rocket to complete it alone. Natalie, the endurance team manager, was competing for the Cotswold Endurance Team (40k Novice) and did extremely well considering the extreme conditions.

As there was only myself left from the West Oxfordshire Team I couldn’t put a grading on the board which was a shame as it was the best endurance ride I have been on so far. This is my 3rd ride for the team and we are all definitely improving on the grades!

I and my 13’2 hh New Forest Aries took on the 31k alone for the 3rd time which was very nerve-racking! Around 31-32 minutes into the ride I hit the first check point keeping within the optimum speed (10km-11.5km) - perfect! After this it was going to be around an hour before I would see my crew team and check point 2. While focusing to keep his speed similar to before, I took in the amazing views of the countryside which I was riding through very spectacular. We reached the second checkpoint at the correct time and our speed was faultless. All we had left to do was ride the last 50 minutes back to home to get an optimum time and speed. No pressure! We did it. We completed the 31k in 2 hours and 52 minutes going an average of 10.75 km. All we had to do was pass the final vetting and we were there. Half an hour was up and it was time… To vet!

We passed! Aries got an ‘A’ for movement (same as we went out on) and came back on a heart rate of 44 which was amazing as we went out on a heart rate of 43!! We had done it- our first grade one! If only the rest of the team was there because I believe we would have achieved a good overall score.

Well done to Natalie for getting a grade 2 and a massive thank you to the U.A.E for hosting the event.

Endurance Team Member, Izzie Hale

2014 Cranham Endurance Ride - 27.07.14

The weather leading up to 27th July was absolutely sweltering with the temperature at 11am on Saturday 26th already at 29 degrees! Luckily it was slightly cooler on 27th at 11am when we started our ride.  Not a lot, but we were fortunate enough to be riding through a lot of  forested areas making the ride much cooler and softer under foot.

All three of us in our team rode the whole ride together managing to record an almost perfect time of 12.68kph. We all finished our 31k ride with big smiles on our faces and completed the vetting process without any hitches even though Izzie’s pony, Aries, lost a shoe on route. What a little super star he his. As a pony he keeps up with the dynamo leader Sasha (the one with the long legs and ears) stunningly well. Ace, Elaine’s horse, is such a cool customer and just takes everything in his stride.

Ace recorded the lowest heart rate at the end and gained a fabulous Grade 2, Sasha recorded her lowest heart rate yet and gained a Grade 3 with Aries scoring a Grade 4. Aries has to work twice as hard being the only pony on the team (not that he knows it!).

We were so excited at finally recording a team score that we forgot to take photos of us all with our beautiful rosettes. Never mind, the next one is at Barbury Castle on 10th August. This should be a really special ride for the team of four going that day. Two of whom are new to the discipline so I wish them luck. I will be riding at Barbury Castle but as part of the Cotswold Endurance GB team this time and our start times are quite different but hope to be able to meet and greet them on their return from the ride.

Natalie Neal

2014 Berkshire Downs 33K Team Endurance Ride - 25.05.14

The ‘West Oxfordshire Wanderers’ consisted of:-
Natalie Neal, Dutch Adventure
Leigh Fenton, Babe
Sue Whiting, Courageous Colour
Elaine Baber, Akzent

The team passed the farrier check and pre-ride vetting with good marks and horse heart rates enabling us all to start the ride.

We fairly quickly split into 2 groups of 2 to accommodate each of our different horses paces.
Leigh and I finished the ride in 2h 15mins; an average speed of 14.58kph - just a tad quick! Sue and Elaine finished in 2h 37mins; a perfect average speed of just under 13kph.

The post event vetting went well for Dutch Adventure (Sasha) as she had done this before and was relatively chilled so recorded a decent heart rate for her of 52bpm. This gave us a grade 4 pass. Hoorah!
Akzent (Ace) was chilled and took it all in his stride and recorded a heart rate of 48bpm giving them a grade 2 pass. Fabulous.
Courageous Clour hadn’t ‘turned off’ by the time we went to see the vet and so recorded a heart rate of 62bpm giving them a pass but no grading. Bless him, he was so excited by it all.
Babe did a sterling job by keeping up with Dynamo Sasha recording a heart rate of bpm. Sadly though she ran up slightly lame (it was a bit slippery in places) and therefore wasn’t graded.

Everyone had a fantastic ride in spectacular countryside and on the most beautiful day we could of asked for considering the rain on the Saturday and the Monday.

Thank you to Elaine who drove three of us in one horse box and Sue who baked a cake for us all for our ‘munchies’ after all of the horses were settled. Thank you also to our two Crew on the day Paul Neal and Pat (Sue’s friend).

We can’t wait for the next one (nor can Sasha!).

Natalie Neal

2013  Dressage to Music Championships, Bury Farm - 7-8.10.13

Dressage to Music Championships.. here is what Morgan had to say about the whole experience…..

‘Wow!! What a great first year in West Oxon, I joined this February and never thought the year would turn out how it did.

Amazingly we qualified for Lincoln where I competed in the riding test. I was in arena five which was round the corner from the other arenas, I had been training Sam in the stubble fields, which he used as a very good excuse to get strong and think that he was there to gallop round like a mad thing. I was very pleased with my 11th place!! Next we were off to Bury Farm, to do the Junior Prelim Dressage to Music. When we arrived we were amazed! We pulled up and were greeted by a very nice man who was very helpful, we parked on the hard standing and we took Sam round to have his passport checked. There was two very nice outdoor arenas’, we had it checked and then Mum and Dad went to check out the indoor arena. I warmed up for my warm up test. This was in a beautiful outdoor arena with a hut in the corner which was extremely scary if you’re Sam!!

I completed my warm up test and got a very surprising 4th. The 4th had given me good confidence for the music. I was lucky enough to warm up in a giant barn which was spilt into three indoor arenas. I warmed up in the end barn with Mum giving me things to remember, sit up, steady on the corners, prepare for each movement etc etc!! Luckily Abbey was there and she said enjoy it!! And then it was my turn, so off through the tunnel we went! I was second to go and I was very nervous!!

I trotted in and eyed up the situation, it was amazing as they said my name, Sam’s name and which riding club I was from, then the bell went. It was extremely tense and silent (I don’t like silence!!) I put my hand down and then there was no turning back, the music started and all the tension went until I halted and then it came back!! I saluted to both judges and then performed the best test I could have hoped for. Sam behaved himself so well and did everything I asked him. I got behind my music but I think only Mum noticed!! Sam was amazing because he even struck of on the right lead when he was still at the end of the diagonal!! We scored an amazing 68% which I was extremely pleased with.

Then Mum took Sam and Abbey and I went to watch the rest of the class. Mum then left Sam with Dad and joined us for nail biting! Thankfully Abbey just about managed to keep us calm! There were ten in the class, we sat in the massive gallery, the tension was too much to handle and every time a score was called out Mum and I grabbed each other’s arms! We were 8th at worst, 7th at worst, 6th at worst, 5th at worst, 4th at worst, 3rd at worst, 2nd at worst and then we convinced ourselves that we had heard the score wrong and it was really 58%! Then the placing’s were finally read out after what felt like an hour!! "1st MORGAN-BETH CROCKFORD RIDING ARTHEN MELLTEN" which was amazing and greeted by some jumping up and down and a smile from ear to ear!!

After half an hour we were called in for the mounted presentation. Sam and I stood in the tunnel which linked the three indoor arena’s and the international sized arena, as I waited second and third joined me they were both riding big greys!! We ended up in height order, us being the smallest! We got called in and I could see Mum, Dad and Abbey in front of me and they were all smiling from ear to ear, I walked into the middle of the arena and looked at them again to see Mum in floods of tears and Dad videoing, the chairman of the British Riding Clubs presented me with my sash which is yellow and blue with gold writing, a big red rosette and a silver salver!! I still couldn’t believe I had won and the lap of honour was amazing. We cantered round the edge of the arena twice to music which was amazing and so much fun!

I would also like to say a massive well done to Abbey riding Pagans Dancer who also did extremely well. And also thank her for her support on the day, she almost controlled Mum! Thanks lots also to Fiona and Russell without whom I wouldn’t have a D2M Championship winning test!

Thank you so much West Oxon for sending me as I had a great time in an amazing place, and everyone we meet was really friendly and helpful. 

Defiantly recommend Bury Farm to everyone!!'

Festival of the Horse National Eventer Challenge Championship - 01.06.13

Aston le Walls was bathed in glorious sunshine for the BRC's annual Festival of the Horse Championship on June 1st. Pigeon and I were called up as a last minute reserve to join the senior team from WORC competing in the 90 challenge. It was only on the day before the event that I realised this was a national championship (yikes)... And that the team came fourth in 2012 didn't add any pressure at all... honest!

The WORC team of four (myself, Abi Whelan, Pip Payne and Maddy Uren) all arrived in good time to walk the course together. And what a great course... In the champs the format is to go immediately from the show jumping to the cross country without a breather in between. As the first class was still running we had to leave walking the beautiful course of show jumps until later (the BRC bring out their 'for best' poles and wings at this event). The cross country was a technical up to height 90cm track with the early water complex (right next to the warm up arena) and double of corners providing a test too tough for some horse and rider combinations! Those that could answer these early questions were rewarded by the chance to pop some fences that had graced the cross country course at Greenwich Park for the 2012 Olympics (chopped down a bit for this level of course). 

Each team member's ride was spread out over the day which meant we could watch and cheer each other on. I was first up for the team on a rather fresh and fit feeling Pigeon. We just touched one pole in the show jumping, Pigeon barely noticing the owls and beef-eaters decorating the fabulous course. We then stormed around the cross country having far too much fun to come home clear and 17 seconds under the optimum time! Abi and Pip both put in great double clears just a handful of seconds under and over time respectively. The team was in a very strong position as we watched Maddy warm up and listened to the penalties racking up for other teams on that tricky cross country track... Maddy pulled it out of the bag in style for the WORC ladies! Although two poles chose to jump from their wings, Waterboatman made light work of the cross country going clear and just a few seconds over the optimum time. We had tied for first place with Blidworth Riding Club, but as their show jumping rounds where one second faster overall they won the posh NAF rugs with a very happy West Oxfordshire Team taking second place! 

After lots of photos and a lap of honour we finally made our way home. It had been a long day but the best event I have ever done. Competing with such a supportive team really is the most fun! Our four teenage horses stepped up to the challenge with ease - a truly senior team proving that experience counts for a lot in eventing!

As a parting thought I, and the rest of the team/club, want to thank Yvonne Lay again for volunteering at the event. Without someone giving up their time to help out we would not have been able to compete. So huge thanks to you Yvonne!

Alex Nadin

London 2012 Olympics,  Greenwich Park – A Games Maker’s Perspective

It seems unbelievable that I applied to volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics more than two years ago and now it is all over!

Although I was delighted to have been accepted I must admit to being disappointed to hear that I would be working in print distribution (sounded a bit close to my usual job). My optimism returned though when I was told that I would be based at Greenwich Park where the equestrian events were to take place!

As it turned out print distribution was one of the best jobs I could have hoped for! Our team was responsible for photocopying and delivering various reports (such as start lists and results) around the park to our many 'clients' (venue management, the press, media and sports info for instance). The role necessitated a high level of access so we got brilliant ‘all area’ accreditations. We tended to be busy just before and after the competitions so we could spend the rest of the time watching the sport from the stands!

And what sport we had to watch!

My first shift was cross country day which was unusual in that the whole park was in use rather than just the stadium. I spent the morning in the main print room (with windows a couple of metres from the warm up arenas) and the afternoon in a temporary print room on the cross country finish where the horses were being cooled off and checked over. There was also a TV room here for the competitors to watch the action - so we got very close to all the big names!

Although I was not on duty to see the silver medal awarded to the GB eventing team, I returned for the start of the jumping and then worked every day until the final medal for the women’s modern pentathlon was awarded.

The atmosphere of excitement seemed to grow everyday in Greenwich. You knew when a GB rider had finished their show jumping round or dressage test by the sound of thunder (23, 000 people stamping their feet) and the screams of applause... before long we had Mexican waves that went around and around the stands until Mike Tucker, on site commentator, had to intervene! The emotion in the venue by the time we got to Charlotte Du Jardin's freestyle dressage to music was tangible and I don't believe there was a dry eye in the house when we heard 'Land of Hope and Glory' and the chimes of Big Ben – a triumph for British Dressage and waterproof mascara! In many ways it was a relief to move onto the modern pentathlon - I doubt my heart could take anymore equestrian events and I was well and truly out of tissues!

Would I volunteer again? Apologies for the pun but… wild horses wouldn’t stop me! What an experience; I witnessed history in the making, made some great new friends and have been overwhelmed by the public’s support and gratitude to all the Games Makers. I am down as a reserve for the Paralympics, will be at Blenheim Horse Trials again this year and plan to spend the next four years learning some Portuguese… Roll on Rio 2016!

Alex Nadin