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.
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.
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.
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.
2014 Berkshire Downs 33K Team Endurance Ride - 25.05.14
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!
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!
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!