Date: 25th May 2013


For photos - courtesy of Ann Bone see :


After the miserable weather the day before it was a pleasure to arrive at Coombelands under sunny and cloudless skies.  The ground was perfect after the soaking and the day was ready to see Horsham presenting 24 rider and horse combinations in five qualifiers.

This year the dressage was set up, as it is for the British Eventing event in October, in the huge field that overlooks the gallops.  Whilst this can be an advantage because it takes the dressage away from the excitement of the show jumping and cross country, it also presents an interesting challenge for those combinations who come to Coombelands to gallop, especially as in the early part of the day there were racehorses galloping past at regular intervals.  It was quite amusing to see some of our horses thinking that part of their “all rounder” label included giving the racehorses a run for their money!

The dressage kicked off with the BRC 100 and BRC 100+ sections and the riders gave pleasing, polished performances, interspersed with what Lorna Tullett described as marish moments from her horse, cross country ready moments from Andrea Starns’s Louie and some plain old interesting ones for Mandy Hammond’s horse. 

The BRC 100’s were followed by the BRC 80’s. Honor Marshall provided the onlookers with some wonderful sound effects during her test, Laura Lovelock’s lovely grey hunter showed how hunters can turn their hooves to anything, Laura Gordon’s old pro, Nelson, showed us all how it should be done and AJ got my unofficial prize for most improved dressage.  If you remember my report from last year, I described Louie as a Ferrari trying to do the supermarket run .. this year, AJ’s Ferrari has found out what the lower end of the rev counter is for, and gave a polite, accurate test which saw both of them beaming when they left the arena .. although I had to remind AJ that it was best to leave the cheering and whooping until she had actually left the arena because technically she was still being marked!

Finally, the BRC 90 teams arrived. Louise Hamilton, Sonia Marfleet, Isobel Lee and Amanda Croft Pearman gave their regular old pro tests; pleasing, accurate, rythymical. Vicky Allen, Kathleen Botting, Emma Mills and Caroline Exley finished the dressage phase with very pleasing results which they kept right through the day.  Ruth Starey’s lovely big homebred youngster was safely piloted through his greenness, Anna Finch’s stunning, hogged Clydesdale-cross left the judge in no doubt what a proud upstanding gentleman he is, Erin Edward’s class eventer filled the eye, and Katherine Morris’ new partnership gave a very pleasing test.  .

By the time I got to the showjumping, the 100 teams had been very impressive, having already show jumped, ready to start the cross country on their dressage scores. The other teams had very little difficulty with the show jumping.  Laura Lovelock’s hunter, who I think had had enough of being an eventer,  decided to slot back into hunting mode, approaching the fences with the sort of commitment that would serve him well in front of a six foot hedge out of boggy ground, and Laura Gordon’s horse decided to say no at fence 4, continuing to say no until he could leave the arena.  Laura handled it very well, knowing that Nelson was a man of a certain age and is not going to change his ways now.    My unofficial prize for show jumping goes to Amanda Croft Pearman who has been working on her show jumping and had obviously borrowed one or two gears from AJ’s Louie, because they flew round the show jumping to give a fluent, easy clear round. 

By the time I got to the cross country, the BRC 100 teams had done their cross country (with 24 rider/horse combinations, can you see a theme emerging here?!) and had a pleasing afternoon with only an unfortunate run out by Deborah Boulton’s horse when he got distracted by a slower rider in front, and Lorna’s horse continuing her marish behaviour with a difference of opinion half way round the course as to whether she was going to continue.  I am pleased to say that Lorna won that argument and arrived through the finish with no jumping penalties.

The cross country provided no difficulty for the 80’s, 90’s and L&SE teams and everyone came home safe and sound, and by the latter part of the day, there was a pleasing number of riders who had come down to support the rest of the teams, with their customary cheers and whistles as each Horsham rider came through the finish.   I was aware, at one time, just how enthusiastic we were being and worried that we may be told to quieten down, but on reflection I think we were more noticeable because we were the only club there in significant numbers to support its members.  Horsham goes to competitions, not only to give each rider a chance to compete, but also to be competitive.  This is countered, however, by a really strong sense of the club amongst the riders … the support is there through success and failure, thick and thin and it really is heartwarming.

The results, which are on the Results section of the fantastic HDRC website, speak for themselves.  Horsham is off to the National Championships at Swalcliffe in Banbury on 2nd August and the L&SE championships at Munstead on 6th October. There is so much to look forward to this summer but, as always, the Championship Qualifier has given us so many happy memories to reflect upon.