I qualified for the Trailblazer Dressage Championships on Piper by gaining over 58% in two Prelim tests at Inchcoonans Equestrian Centre. The finals were to be held at Stoneleigh Park down in Warwickshire (360 miles away), so it was quite a big decision to actually decide to go.
Piper and I, accompanied by husband Stephen, son James (both quick learning grooms) and Holly (our dog) headed down South in a very luxurious lorry hired out to us by (the very brave and trusting) Carol and Neill Wivell. Nine hours later we arrived at Stoneleigh and we all settled into our home for the next four nights. Piper was more than happy in his temporary stable.
We parked the lorry on one of the hard standing pitches with electric hook up: we also had the choice of a pitch on the grass, with or without electric hook up. Lots of families had tents as well as lorries or boxes, but the advantage of the hard standing was that we had a fantastic view of the main arena, which was split into six dressage arenas and two warm up areas.
Tuesday was the warm up day. There were just under eighty people doing the Prelim class (there was also Novice and Elementary going on) and the standard was high. The Championship classes started on Wednesday and there were over one hundred doing that, again the other levels also had big numbers. It started at 8am with all six arenas going – amazingly well organised. You were sorted into sections and at the end of the Wednesday, the top six went through to the Champion of Championship class on Thursday, while the rest went through to the consolation championship. Again we were organised into sections (twenty seven in mine) and the top ten from each section had a prize giving and were awarded rosettes. I managed to score 68% and got ninth place! The prize giving was lovely, as were the rosettes. You also got to do a lap of honour to music which was very sweet.
Rather than make the journey back North on Thursday, we stayed over to Friday morning, so we saw all the young showjumpers arrive.
Overall, it was a great experience. The venue is good, and the competitions are all very well organised. People were so friendly and encouraging and it gives you a real confidence boost to ride at such a big event. Here’s to next year!