Trailblazing with Duke

I have been riding Duke for 3 and a half years but I recently brought him from this previous owner. We have been competing in the dressage field for the last 2 years, we have had some issues along the way but this year we managed to qualify for the Trailblazer’s Unaffiliated Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

We qualified for 2 classes, Prelim and Novice. We have only just started competing at Novice level so was very surprised to qualify and I wasn’t expecting to do very well in that class due to the lack of experience but was thrilled that we’d qualified.

The Championships was in July and the weather had been awful running up to the event so I didn’t know what to expect but wasn’t too worried about it as Duke doesn’t mind the rain. We arrived and got Duke settled in and then put up our living accommodation – a tent!!

In each of my classes there were 144 people competing. Day one – all the people that have entered are put into heats. There was roughly about 36 in each heat. Once everyone has done their test the scores are put up so that everyone can view them and the top 9 scores go through to the Championships on the second day. For the horses that don’t get into the Championship class there are consolation rounds – this enables everyone to still work towards being places and being able to go into the parade ring. That happens for all the classes.

On day one we managed to come 5th in my Prelim class and 12th in my Novice class. I was absolutely over the moon with our performance. I thought we’d be good enough to get into the Prelim Championships but I never thought that we’d do so well in the Novice class and just missing out to the Championship class.

On day two the pressure was on but my family had come down so it was great to be able to share this with them. We got ready and started warming up just as the heaven’s decided to open and we got wet through. We went into do our test and I was pleased with Duke’s performance but thought I had let him down a little because I’d not supported him enough. Then it was a waiting game for the score’s to go up. I sat and watch some of the other people competing in my class and the standard was really high. My aim before the event was to get into the Prelim Championships buy I was realistic in thinking that I wouldn’t be placed as this was the first time I’d qualify for something like this.

To my surprise we were pleased 8th overall in the Prelim – I was the proudest women in the world at that point but Duke was oblivious to how well he’d done and just wanted to eat his hay!! We went in for the presentation and the judge presented us with our rosette. I looked like a Cheshire cat with a smile from ear to ear as you can see from the photo.

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