Posted on 17th April 2020 by Sue Tomlinson
Apologies for the delay in what seems will be the last event report for a while to come out of DEHQ! Certainly a lot has gone on since we set foot on one of our favourite local events, not least of which has been the change in weather!
The horrendous rain during what felt like the proceeding days, weeks, and months leading up to Swalcliffe left us in some doubt regrading the event actually running, but as always, the sterling efforts lead by event organiser Sarah Taylor and her dedicated team, meant we were on!
First up was Amelia on Saturday morning (literally first up, with that much sought after 8 am dressage slot) with Ballinaguilkey Richie (Richie). This talented little chap finished up his 2019 season with a win at his second ever event so we were all excited to see how this super cool 6yr old would perform….we were not disappointed. A very assured 30 double clear inside the time meant he was a WINNER once more! Special mention at this point must go to the AMAZING prize haul Richie received. For those of you that didn’t see, head to one of our social media pages to see exactly what a BE90Open winner can win….!!!
Dassett Select (JJ) was up next competing in an extra BE100 run, as we entered him not knowing how many events would run / cancel before he was due to go Novice the following weekend. Having run well at Oasby for 2nd place, it was of no surprise that he cruised through this run finishing on his dressage of 28 for 3rd. Having not run much in the mud last year, we felt it was still educational for him to have another outing at this level, as learning to cope with different types of going is something best done at a young age when they are confident with the questions being asked. So it was another box successfully ticked for JJ.
With day one in the bag, those returning to Swalcliffe for day 2 on Sunday were not to be quite so lucky with the weather. Heavy overnight rain and wind had given the whole event a slightly apocalyptic feel and yet again, thanks must go to the people behind the scenes for keeping the event on the road.
We didn’t feel that all of our entered horses would necessarily benefit from having what would for many, their first run in such testing conditions. So a few quick alterations were made and plan B was put into effect.
Dassett Rockstar (Rocky), having performed well at Oasby and being deemed ready for his next outing at Novice level, stayed on the truck. As did Alice Midmer’s FWS Dassett Clover (al). Alice and Al have had great fun training hard all winter and with the ground conditions worsening, they wisely decided to choose another day to put their practice to the test!
Kate had her girls out in force and first up was Andrea Burdett’s lovely mare Dassett Forever Autumn (Autumn). As always, she performed well in the dressage putting her best foot forward and trying her best to concentrate despite the obvious excitement of being out and about at last. Andrea has had some great successes over the winter months competing at pure dressage and both her and Kate feel that this kind and generous mare is Andrea’s perfect partner. With that in mind, neither felt it right to continue to the jumping phases so with long term goals firmly in place, Autumn too headed back to her haynet, glad to have gotten the grass under her feet at last.
Dassett Showgirl (Lola) was up next and having just returned from the Sunshine Tour, I don’t think the weather was quite what she expected at all!!! This very impressive 6yr old has been out in Spain jumping with the big boys and holding her own, she even WON one of the 6yrold jumping classes and was looking very comfortable round some pretty beefy 1.25m tracks! Again, with the big picture in mind the decision was taken not to run XC, especially as the day’s main aim of reminding her that she is an event horse again had been achieved; nothing makes that more clear than doing dressage, in a field, in the driving rain!
Another mare to tackle the day was Dassett Diamond (Darcy), owned by The Wright Way syndicate and expertly ridden by Hayley. Having been chomping at the bit to get eventing all winter (Hayley that is) and with Darcey on top form and full of confidence, they had a great day out completing all 3 phases for a double clear and 9th place. Once restrictions are lifted and we are back to normal, these two look like they are going to have a great season ahead of them. Well done Hayley!
Rounding up the day was a new member of the Team DE collective, Joe Lethebridge and Oakwood Romeo (Romeo) owned by Fiona Lascelles and Beth Fielding. Joe and Romeo have joined us while Joe completes his degree at Birmingham University and he has already made himself a vital member of the team. Always ready to lend a hand and chip in, Joe has joined us for lockdown and is working with us full time to ensure that the day to day running of DEHQ goes without a hitch. He has also taken on the role of Cottage Chef, a position which Craig in particular is most grateful for! Having delivered a very respectable dressage test of 26, Romeo found the ground in the showjumping a little challenging, resulting in an uncharacteristic 2 poles rolled. This, coupled with his late spot in the day, meant a quick team meeting back at the truck resulted in Romeo being saved for another day too; he also found himself on his way home without running XC.
Its always a bit of an anticlimax when debating the decision to withdraw rather than run, but all of these horses are in the early stages of their careers and balancing the question of education vs confidence is a key tool in their individual development moving forward.
Being faced with, and having the ability to cope with, adverse weather and differing ground conditions is all part and parcel of being an event horse. This is why its essential that events like Swalcliffe continue to work hard to run events even if, due to no fault of their own, the conditions on the day won’t suit all of the horses all of the time.
With plenty of time now to reflect, train, rest, plan, perfect and sample Joe’s cooking, we will no doubt all be ready to put our efforts into practice once the current more pressing situation is dealt with!