Louise manages to write our report for the Finals as well as catering for the team and competing herself! With Mike driving Brownie in the Junior Intermediate class, Lesley Goodden driving Blackie and Brownie together in the tandem class and Louise driving Clyde in the Novice Pony class it was all go!
The highlight of the Championships was the weather, anything else was a bonus! We arrived Thursday afternoon allowing sufficient time to set up camp and exercise the ponies. Mike drove Brownie whilst Linda lunged Blackie and then we drove Clyde. The horses were still fresh and none the worse for their 5 hour journey.
Brownie was a little on his toes as he always is indoors but Mike did a decent dressage test with 15.6 penalties for precision and 19.2 for paces (1st place). Brownie’s mark for paces was only beaten in the Junior section by Katie Bell in the Senior Junior class, not bad for a Shetland but Mike needs to improve on his precision! The cones course was difficult, some awkward turns gave Mike 2 balls down and total penalties of 14.35 (2nd place cones, 1st place overall).
The obstacles were on Saturday morning. Competitors had to drive obstacles 1 and 2, leave the arena and then come back to drive the same obstacles as 3 and 4. There was a bridge in obstacles 2 and 4, something Mike and Brownie hadn’t practised for some time! Brownie did absolutely everything asked of him and didn’t put a hoof wrong. They were the fastest through obstacles 1,2 and 3 but second fastest through obstacle 4 with Brownie tiring a little through the final turns (1st place). With total penalties of 181.33 this gave Mike a 27 penalty lead over second place, another convincing win to retain his Intermediate Young Driver title. This is Mike’s final year in the Intermediate class and next year will be competing in the 15-18 years although he will still only be 14.
However, we mustn’t forget the rest of Team Warford! Lesley Goodden gave a brilliant performance with Blackie and Brownie in tandem: dressage 34.4 (2nd place), cones 16.63 (3rd place cones, 3rd place overall) and following obstacles a total score of 264.91 putting Lesley in 3rd place. As leader, Blackie had to venture over the bridge obstacle ahead of his experienced pal… After only a momentary pause to check he was going the right way, over he went. Good little man!
Getting Clyde there in the first place was reward enough for me. We got 37.8 for the dressage (3rd place) but my driving let him down in the cones with 3 balls down and total penalties of 38.2. I didn’t think Clyde would bother with the bridge but of course I was wrong. It took a little time and some encouragement from my backstepper Andrew Goodden (and the crowd) to get Clyde over, second time over no problems at all. We finished the weekend with a lovely hack early Sunday morning in brilliant sunshine and with no cars. What could be better?
National Junior Intermediate Champion
Paces & Precision 34.8, Cones 14.35, Obstacles 181.33