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Cavago British Dressage Associated Championships

competition Nov 19, 2023

I competed Salvation in the Veteran Championships at Vale View. We presented Preliminary Test 17A in the 20 years and over class. The scene was set for a fun day with a very civilised 2.17 test time. Humpty was relaxed and happy hanging out with his friends whilst he was prepared. Sarah made him spotlight ready with very smart plaits and I’m sure by this point Humpty knew we were very likely going to a show.

He loaded happily and it was encouraging that he arrived with the same air of confidence. He unloaded with his trademark presence of mind and Sarah kindly finished getting him ready whilst I got changed. Tina helped me get acclimatised as I hadn’t been to Vale View before. It does make a difference when you know the layout because it starts to feel familiar more quickly. At a Championship event, this familiarisation saves me fretting about the unknown. 
Once onboard we made our way to the warm up and Humpty was curious. He took everything in his stride and because it wasn’t raining, we had the chance to relax. He had a look at a set of steps and as we rounded the corner he definitely raised an eyebrow at the wind turbines claiming the sky behind the arenas. 
I had a lovely surprise when our friends Tam and Tory arrived to support us. A few more transitions and we both felt ready to go! I particularly enjoyed his canter. 
In the arena, he had a good look around. The arena was beautifully dressed with purple flowers at the markers and it was brightly lit. Humpty was surprised and a little tense but happy enough to make an entrance. 
I would describe our test as a clear round. My highlights included the right canter and the trot work was rhythmical. I think I may have held my breath as I rode the test, it has been a long time since I was at a Championship! I did have time to appreciate how pleased Humpty was to be performing and by the time we turned for our final centre line he had switched up a gear. He powered up the middle of the arena getting close to his medium and halted on the aids for an 8 from the Judge at C. It felt good and we were both smiling. The audience were kind and gave him a round of applause. This made his week and he basked in the appreciation.

We made a leisurely way to the horsebox where he had a cuddle with Tina his owner and breeder. Our support team helped me to make him comfortable. He had treats and cuddles before savouring a Braeburn apple from my Mum. Dressed for travel, he loaded well and discovered he had a feed waiting. 
A feature of competing at Vale View is that the results were loaded quickly onto their website. This let us relax in the cafe and catch up on each other’s news. We posted 63% and as I was first to go, I refreshed the page regularly. At the half way stage we were sitting in 6th place. It was not long to wait before the class concluded and I was delighted to have held onto 10th place. 

Very interesting to read the feedback from the two Judges, to process our strengths and see the areas for development. I was too tired to think much about it at the time and focussed instead on getting us all home. Today I went through our video ( taken by Mum )  and the official photographs from Kevin Sparrow. Looking at the beautiful rosette and two stable plaques, one to celebrate the 25th anniversary of British Dressage and the other from sponsors Cavago, I remembered all that has happened to Humpty and I to get to the Championships. Incredible to think that competing with BD was our ambitious goal. To qualify was beyond my expectations before we grew into the next goal to compete at the Veteran Championships. In the build up, there were a few speed bumps leaving me anxious and wondering if we would complete. To place was such a lovely finish to our day. 

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