Mike was selected to compete for Great Britain at the European Youth Championships in Wałbrzych, Poland at the end of August 2014. Although his pony team was not yet ready to compete, the Wheeldon family kindly let him drive their pony Barney as a single for the event. Mike spent much of the summer working with Barney so that they were both at the right standard for international competition, and it turned out to be a successful partnership! Mike gives his report on the event…
Our trip to the European Junior Championships proved to be very successful, and we returned with an individual bronze medal! We arrived at lunchtime on the 18th August following 3 1/2 days of travelling, we spent the remainder of the day walking Barney in hand and he soon relaxed in his new environment. On Tuesday each competitor had 8 minutes to drive in the dressage arena followed by a session with the team trainer Sara Howe. Wednesday morning we were up early for a drive and training session prior to the vets inspection, thankfully all of the GB ponies passed with no problems.
The dressage went as well as I could possibly have hoped for, Barney remained relaxed and gave a good performance putting me in second place which I was really pleased with. The following day we weren’t out until late on the marathon which gave me the opportunity to watch quite a few go round. The ground was hard and with very little grass causing the carriages to slide through the obstacles. As we set off at the start of the marathon we passed obstacle one where we saw team mate Charlotte tip up, this made me approach the obstacles with caution although we did gather speed as we progressed. We finished 8th in the marathon phase which dropped me down to third overall after phase 2.
The cones phase is always my strongest and I like a quick difficult course to put the pressure on the others. Barney remained relaxed throughout the course which meant I could drive him round the tricky course without having a ball down and within the time permitted. A double clear was good enough to hold 3rd place but unfortunately neither of the 2 above had sufficient penalties to move me higher in the rankings.
I am delighted with my bronze medal and made all the hard work, travelling and training over the summer very worthwhile.
Bronze Medallist, Young Driver class
Paces & Precision 54.26, Cones 0.00, Total 96.60