Ok so we are home and have slept for about 7 hours straight so here at last is the national Champs wrap up!
For starters it was super to qualify all three of our competition horses for the National Dressage Championships, despite having not one but TWO CHESTNUT MARES! Its good to see that we've been consistently performing throughout the year and we are on track in our training. Even though I have been a National level competitor for many years now, the thrill of being accepted into his elite group of Australian riders is humbling every time. Respect champs! Also finally got a guernsey on the NSW State Team after many years of service, thanks to brilliant Maggie pony!
We had a terrific show this year starting with Princess Margaret (Miss Divine M) receiving two beautiful 71% scores in the Novice for a win and a second place, missing out on the National Championship by less than 1/2 a percent. Maggie backed up by winning the Elementary 3.2 the next day with a 69% but in the 3.3 we had to move her test time to last so I could get through Toby's trot up and she had to go alone in the worst weather, and also was irrecoverably affected by a couple pelicans performing a mating dance that I hadn't planned on. Awkward! She still did a great job though placing 7th and greatly enhanced her popularity all week, even securing a coveted cover girl spot in the Herald Sun newspaper! It was great to have such a good show with her as she really is a top quality homebred pony and we have done a heap of work on her fitness, nutrition and training this year, it's great that it's bearing fruit and she looks a million dollars.
Special mention for Scarlett (Grenadine) whilst she wasn't in the money in the Novices she didn't put a foot wrong and really let me ride her in this huge atmosphere and was even noticed by a few who know. She's so much better every competition, and so much help when we got the Mag E dose just right too Philippa Kohnke! She really is a baby GP horse and showed it the next day when I took her through her paces. I'm really looking forward to bringing another one through to that level and theres no doubt in my mind that she's the one, especially with three of her siblings in the FEI classes already she's in great company and its fantastic to see that she's finally settling down the little hot rev head! She's been a challenge no by far the hottest horse we've ever had (this is a HUGE call!) but I love the funny little red girl and shows what unwavering faith (sometimes misplaced we thought!) and commitment can deliver. Go Scarlie!
Toby was as always a star, our intention was to make NO mistakes after some uncharacteristic ones at Willinga Park a couple weeks before and Toby nailed it. The only problem was when I lost focus ("ooohh shiny!") in the two times changes in the GPS on the last day and stuffed up! Poor Toby, you could see him actually roll his eyes...especially as it cost him a very good placing.
He was a beauty though, and the tweaks that I've been making in his training regime has benefited him greatly, he's so much stronger and better in his frame now, more in self carriage, more forward, expressive and uphill. Hopefully the marks will come to reflect this going forward.
He really is a great horse and it was lovely to have heaps of positive feedback from so many knowledgeable people, including fellow GP competitors and FEI judges, throughout the four days of GP competition, we need a people's choice award for tobes! Big thanks to so many people who helped us, special mention to the always positive Parbs and my dear mate, the brilliant Gary Lung, my little bestie Holly Cutler and Kylie Riddell who gave me a total boost at this comp.
Most of all it was awesome to catch up with so many of my dressage family, including Team Tassie, Team Albury, Sue Robbins dressing gown, and the champs behind the scenes who work their butt off to ensure that this was a fantastic Championships at a perfect venue. Thanks Fiona Selby for making everything happen, loved the Can Do approach that we felt, as well as the strong focus on being for the riders and their horses, it obviously stems from the attitude of management and it was really positive. That allows riders to do the best job possible and really enjoy the experience besides which we really did (particularly the riders party Sat night...that was gold!)
And of course a massive thanks to my brilliant sponsors Equissentials who provide all our stylish riding apparel and horse ware, Hiscocks Saddleworld who provide our Carl Hester PDS range of saddles that allow all my horses to dance so beautifully in perfect comfort, and of course the family team at Kohnke's Own who have prodded the game changing supplements such as Muscle XL for topline and strength, Gastrocoat that keeps Scarlett from transforming into an unrideable fire breathing dragon, their Cell Grow and Cell Perform vitamin and mineral supplement that all our horses receive from birth to Grand Prix, and their joint supplements that keep all my horses sound for so many years competing at the highest level. Thank you!!!
Of course I must thank Beck Kent my great friend who groomed like a pro and the horses looked like they were ready for the Garryowen! She even organised me, no mean feat, and kept the positive vibes going to the last! love ya babe, thanks SO MUCH. Thanks also to the Homegirls! Who let us go and embrace the Champs and leave all the crap at home to you guys! Literally couldn't do it without you!
Finally thanks to my super horses, you are brilliant, beautiful, humbling and awesome champions that I adore totally, win, lose or draw, whatever you do. Thanks for training me so well! Thank you xxx
Ok so finally the wrap up for Australia’s most prestigious event the Sydney CDI.
So we won the Grand Prix CDN. Sorry at the risk of sounding like a complete tool - ME AND TOBY WON THE GRAND PRIX CDN AT SYDNEY CDI 2016!!! That’s just sinking in still. I’m so absolutely humbled by this event in my life. The moment this little foal entered my life. How cool is this little ugly duckling? People who know me, know how many times I’ve said dont care what he does, as long as I have this bloke watching movies on the couch with me, Milo and Tim Tams at the ready, thats all I care about, but to win the GP CDN at Sydney!! H’s still such green horse at this level too, there’s plenty more to come. The really cool part of the story is that this was the first horse we ever bred here, he’s not a fancy import, I wasn't a professional rider until a year ago - having to battle my day job and ride my 4/5 horses from 6pm - 11pm every night. Plus we have trained him all the way from scratch and its heartening to see that you CAN still do this with out being a millionaire (but it certainly helps - and I’m happy to be adopted by one - is it too late?)
In other fantastic news, how great was it to see our wonderful friend the beautiful Sue Hearn win the GP and Freestyle!! One of the quiet achievers in the sport, she’s made more Nationally and Internationally competitive GP horses from scratch than I’ve had hot dinners and I’m so happy for her. Sue’s most definitely not a millionaire and all her horses have been home bred, not fancy pants imports yet she always manages to bring home the goods with her exceptional correct training. Couldn’t have happened to a better person!
Also how cool is Regardez Moi? He is the maternal GRANDDAD to my Toby and he is still going strong in the GP at 20 years old! What a campaigner, so sound in this mind and body still, so well done Heath to keep him going in the peak of health.
And while the congratulations are flowing - I'm so proud of my little best mate Caitlin Radford and how far she's come as a rider, horsewoman and simply as a human being, behaving with grace no matter what life throws at her. Caitlin has overcome more disappointments in her short life than many but nothing gets her down, she just bounces back up and fights on. Her love for her horse is apparent to everyone and the picture of harmony she and her horse XL Overtime created at Sydney was remarkable, especially considering how few times she has ridden him!
We sourced the beautiful Jay (XL Overtime) right after last years Sydney CDI from my great mate Rebecca Walsh and despite a couple setbacks early on with him taking a big break it's been a huge year of learning and developing into the perfect dance partners. We are sad to see him leave our place but very happy he will be worshipped like a king by his new mistress and he so deserves it. The love affair continues!!!
My former working pupil and current bestie Antoinette Lorimer took along her little chocolate Labrador Callum Park Radcliffe for the 6 year old class and performed brilliantly! Its such an achievement to get there and have a 6 year old doing this level of work, and Annie does it with compassion, much patience (!) and really showcases Jack’s talent and her own. Stars of the future for sure but its so nice to have a bit of success along the way ad I was most impressed with Jack’s behaviours and maturity, evening a warm up arena with the Small tour, GP and ALL of the 5 and 6 year olds in it!! Beautiful lad and a beautiful lady.
We have again stolen back our beloved Rikke Buhl-Christensen before she heads home to Denmark (hopefully to come back in a few months to stay with us for much longer!) She has been helping me with all our horses, and in no small part Toby’s success at this event is credited to her. He is so confident and happy now that all theres left to do is ride, not try to keep him in the arena and from spooking at everything and I’m glad to see that some people are taking advantage of this method, even if some others think Yeah we’ve done that - if it hasn’t worked you are not doing this I can assure you! Thanks Rikke!
Sydeny CDI had really great vibe this year with the riders bar and a friendly and inclusive feel. Thanks so much to Toni Venhaus and her team, Cathie Drury Klein, Trevor Klein, Peter Rocca, Graham lever Karen Lever, Gail Benson and all my extended family xxx
Massive thanks to all who have helped us on our journey so far, PeterandDi Jenkyn who has been instrumental in my training and took me from poxy novice rider to National Grand Prix, Equissentials my long term sponsors and mates, Hiscocks Saddleword Saddlery Queanbeyan who provide us with the game changing Carl Hester Range of PDS saddles, and the wonderful clever team at Kohnke’s Own Products who provide our horses with the best health and nutrition and keep them sound and happy.
Wonderful competition at Albury Dressage Champs with great performances all round. This friendly, welcoming and professional Club really excelled themselves with this years Championships.
Clever Callum Park Radcliffe and Annie Lorimer did a beautiful job looking fantastic to win both Elementary tests for the Elementary Champion Great to see young Jack back up after winning the same at Wagga Dressage Championships a few weeks ago.
After realising I was doing the Big tour if your not the medium your in the drive to Albury, poor Toby adapted well and absolutely nailed his inter 11 test for a fantastic score of 67+%!
And there's more to come! We had to then do the GP (his second only) in 30 degree heat less than 4 hours later and it was a bit much, plus he is just not familiar enough which ids my fault, so we scored an appropriate 63% with lots mistakes but plenty more marks to be had!
Very big fan of these gorgeous horses of ours. Great riding from my mates and lovely see after my dressage freestyle clinic all my wagga mates have developed their own and are having fun dancing with their horses. A stunning win went to Nic Whittaker for a beautiful flowing ripper of a test that was a pleasure to watch.
Super results today from my mates busting out some massive 70%+ scores and super to see others improving and their horses really becoming more rideable and confident.
Thanks everyone associated with these champs, Committee, super sponsors and judges.
Thanks to our super sponsors Equissentials, Konhkes own products and Hiscocks saddlery Queanbeyan we couldn't do it without you.
Well what a great weekend!! We were so excited to be visiting our friends in Wagga for the Riverina Equestrian Association Dressage champs, the actual comp is almost secondary! We had so many laughs and good times that my stomach still hurts! It wasn't all about being social though and all our boys nailed their tests and achieved terrific results. Great to see star pupils and horses doing themselves proud too.
Starbucks kicked off the comp with his trademark foot perfect tests and whilst still needs a bit more time and strength to carry his big impressive frame a bit better, still did a fantastic job coming second to the current State Reserve Advanced Champion. Not bad company to keep and he then received the Reserve Champion Medium award.
As I'd done a freestyle clinic a few weeks earlier it was fantastic to see everyone I'd worked with had taken the ball and run with it and were really having fun. Of course that meant I'd completely run out of time for mine so with the help of super Caitlin Radford I managed to cobble together a medium for Starbucks and an elementary one for Radcliffe. Thanks Cait!
I love riding to music and of course the judge not knowing where you are going or what you'll do next is of course attractive...if say...you might have to make some stuff up on the spot ever...
Anyway onto the Inter A with Toby and after wrongly assuming that he'd in fact gotten much less hot while I was away and completely neglecting to properly prepare for his "quick game is a good game" mentality, we still managed to win the class on his pure talent. I think the best tests are the ones where you learn about your own shortfalls so you can improve your future performances. Ok sometimes it doesn't feel that great at the time, and we all love easy tests that come together seamlessly, but to learn and develop you need to make mistakes and in this test I really had a lot of development opportunities!
I had little time to lament my incompetence however as it was straight into the freestyles. As much as I love these over all tests perhaps doing three horses all in under two hours was a bit ambitious?!
Young Radcliffe was the absolute surprise of the comp, after being quite excited the day before in the arena, the addition of pots, judges, a crowd etc just seem to make him more comfortable. He is aborn showman and just nailed his test, such a forward and flowing bloke, with a real presence and joy for life in everything he does. Still a baby and admittedly a bit of a clown (the first night he picked up his water bucket and cleverly deposited it over his back neighbours head?!) Jack owned his test and received a magnificent score of 75%!!! He even received an 80% for an artistic score!
I had no idea of how well he'd done as I had to get straight onto Starbucks, who then finished off his perfect day with a win in the Medium Freestyle. We were followed closely by my mate Toni Pearce who produced a fantastic harmonious freestyle that I wouldn't have been unhappy to have been beaten by at all. Her test really was beautifully matched to the music and best of all she is not now scared of doing freestyle.
We capped off the big day with a Medium Tour freestyle with Toby who was again a bit overawed by the atmosphere especially at night. He got a bit against my hand and wanting to get a bit quick and nervous but he hung in there as he does and produced some solid work and got a good score for that test.
As we were unpacking the horses and tucking them in we received big surprise when it was announced that little cracker Jack Radcliffe had won the highest freestyle percentage award! He had to make an entrance in white bandages and be presented with his presents and a beautiful big garland donated by generous sponsors Konhkes Own!! Although he'd never seen one, or been in a big atmosphere at night, on his own, he just accepted it all and I've never been prouder.
Peter Shaw then did a well received masterclass for the crowd to finish off the night. Great to see our mate Ebony's Blackwood Tuscany in this class, managing to cope admirably with the big atmosphere though such a young one. We've worked with these guys before and they are coming along in leaps and bounds, in no small part to Eb's easy going nature and commitment to this talented but sometimes hot mare. Gotta love those hot ones, they are made for Grand Prix, you just need to cope along the way!
After a great night we backed up again for the elementary classes with Radcliffe proving he's not just a one hit wonder by winning both his tests and coming away with the Elementary Champion award, Yay for little Jack!
It always seems to catch me unawares when my little mates grow up. It's not long ago that I remember Jack as a foal, taking over a masterclass by running out into the arena and pouncing about without his mother and not caring much, as long as everyone was looking at him! I used to take him to clinics with me, little Jack sprat, getting used to things. And look at him now. So proud of our Callum Park horses.
Don Rubin was let down a little by his pilot's lack of match fitness, I've been overseas for about 6 weeks this winter but I'm getting my coordination back slowly. Poor Toby, he really needs a professional to work with.
Have to thank our always super supportive sponsors Equissentials, and Kohnke's Own, without you guys we would never have been on the map. Thank you to the super Committee who found amazing judges who were so positive.
I can't wait until next year!
Sydney CDI - So much goodness happened with the most amazing result being that my favourite mate Toby won the FEI Medium Tour Freestyle!