Ashfields National Qualifier 2013

2013 began a little differently from our previous seasons, as we elected not to compete indoors with the team but instead concentrate on fittening and schooling ready for the outdoor season (also, Anna and Jack somehow managed to arrange their wedding for the weekend of the indoor finals at Keysoe, which meant that for once Team Warford were all dressed up and ready to party without the ponies!). Mike tells us about the first comp of 2013…

This is the first year we have done a National event as early as May but I knew I would be struggling in June due to my A Levels. There was only the three of us going, mum, Anna and myself so it was going to be hard work for us all and after the awful weather of 2012 I was praying it would stay dry.

We set off at 5am on the Thursday and had a really good trip down the motorway. We arrived shortly before 11am and were set up by mid-day. We left the ponies to settle in while we did our first course walk. In the evening we took the ponies for a stroll and then a short schooling session in the dressage arena.

On the Friday we were first on in my class, I felt it went well although Brownie did break pace in a couple of the extended trots at the beginning of the test. I got 66.13 which I was very disappointed with; this was 16 penalty points behind Sara Howe. When I read through my test I realised that I had lost more marks than normal because I was driving a 3 phase vehicle.

Friday was a very hot day but fortunately Saturday was much cooler, no need to plait the manes! We had a slight mishap on section A when we went the wrong way, but fortunately Sara and her team were on hand to point this out. The obstacles went really well and I was pleased with the ponies, new bits on Blackie and Brownie gave me more control at the front. I lost my way in the water obstacle but managed to correct it without wasting too much time and a hesitation by the leaders in obstacle 4 was the only other mistake. Following the obstacles I managed to move from 4th to 2nd place.

Going in reverse order for the cones always makes things tense and this was no exception. All those going before me were struggling for time and with balls down. I made the decision to go for the time which I made with only 2 balls down. Sara had more balls down and time faults so I closed the gap quite considerably. Winning the cones is always a great way to finish an event.

Early qualification for the Championships takes the pressure off and I can now concentrate on my A levels!

Reserve Champion, Pony Fours
Paces & Precision 66.13, Cones 6.00, Total 165.39