Having competed at National Qualifiers and at Windsor, Mike had to drive in the National Class for up to 25 year olds at Escrick against four National Champions. No small task, especially as at 14 years old he was the youngest competitor in the class and Brownie was the smallest pony by far.
After Windsor we decided to give Brownie a week off to relax. Mike then spent three evenings practising his dressage as for the first time ever he would have to drive one-handed during a test. Thanks to the generosity of our biggest supporters Janet and Sylvia, we were able to compete at Escrick in our brand new carriage, a Bennington Spirit!
Once at Escrick, the warm-up before the dressage went well and Brownie was looking good. The test had plenty to like, and despite a couple of rushed moments it had some lovely parts. Mike was sixth after the dressage, and went straight over to complete the cones. Once again the pair were clear through the cone with just 2.5 penalties for being 5 seconds over the time, and with just three competitors making the time (again with larger ponies) it was a good score. This put Mike and Brownie in overall fifth place at the end of the first day.
Unlike Windsor the week before, we were competing with a small pony allowance which made the times in the marathon achievable. In fact, during the walk section the pair almost didn’t need their allowance, they had plenty of time in hand and towards the end they had to slow down or they would have arrived back too early! Mike and Brownie absolutely flew the obstacles, the fastest Louise said she had ever seen him go! After the marathon scores were added on the final placings were announced. Mike finished in sixth place, amongst some very illustrious company and against drivers several years older than himself with ponies several hands higher. It’s hard to appreciate just how fast little Brownie goes when up against such experienced ponies and horses. However, in the marathon his time was only beaten by Katie Bell in the 15-17 yrs class and Stephen Spillane in the 13-14 yrs class, both of whom were driving far bigger ponies.
A quick getaway to avoid Sunday evening traffic meant a relatively easy journey home after such a tiring weekend. Once again Louise’s catering and wardrobe dressing had been invaluable. Mike, Linda and Brownie had worked very hard, and the winter indoor season is only two weeks away. Bring it on!
Sixth place in Under 25s class
Paces & Precision 54.40, Cones 2.5, Marathon 53.11