The six-hour journey to the All England Showground, Hickstead, was without a doubt well worth the trip for all of our students – Caoimhe Collery, Sophie Lee, Lottie Gunter, Neve Harvey and Henry Blair.
Children and parents were both excited and a little anxious about the prospect of competing at such a famous venue. This time Team Sidcot were competing at the NSEA National Eventing Finals. It is fair to say everyone travelled knowing the team had done extremely well to qualify for this final so anything else would have been a big bonus. What was to come was allot of pressure on such young shoulders.
For those reading this unfamiliar with rules of Arena Eventing, it’s not the easiest of Equine Disciplines. The riders must first jump a series of show jumps, followed directly by a series of solid Cross country fences. Riders are only provided with an optimum time so it’s technical. Riders must know which lines to take in order to try and produce a time closest to the optimum and commit to those tracks whilst riding under pressure. At this level the jumps are full up to height and width so riders and ponies have to be focused when entering the ring. The Hickstead stage was challenging with all riders being faced with ditches, banks, steps, planks and full up brush fences. Our riders also had to ride in and out of the arena to approach different fences. It’s fair to say this was no easy track and took both skill and confidence to complete it.
Our first team to go included Henry Blair and Ivy, Lottie Gunter and Rohan, Neve Harvey and Scout, and Sophie Lee and Eden. All riders rode their hearts out with all four going clear within the time. This class alone had over 120 competitors. It seemed to go on forever given the children first rode at 8.30am and the class didn’t finish until half twelve so as you can imagine the anticipation of the results was nerve racking! and ‘that was just the parents. The Sidcot team were awarded third place at National Level. This was outstanding and so well deserved and it’s fair to say we had a group of four extremely proud Children.
In class two again another big class. The same set of riders rode exceptionally well. In this class Sophie and Neve were unlucky to roll a pole or two but rode confidently over a challenging track. Lottie and Henry each went clear with great time and both rode the direct route over some tricky combinations. Henry was riding as part of the team but also as an individual rider having qualified earlier in the year as an individual. The team were unlucky to be out of the team prizes in this class. Henry was awarded eight place individually in the NSEA 80cm Arena Eventing Championships, a great result.
On Sunday it was the turn of Caoimhe Collery and Harper. Caoimhe was riding as an individual and was one of the first riders to take on the course. For this class a water splash was also included which meant Caoimhe had to leave the main arena and run Harper through the water without losing both momentum and time. This addition to the course caught many riders out. Caoimhe led the individuals all morning and the agonising wait didn’t end until midday when all individual riders had competed. There was great excitement when it was announced that Caoimhe had secured first place and winner of the NSEA 90cm Arena Eventing Championships. A well-deserved win and a very happy Jockey.
It is fair to say that the Sidcot Equestrian team is well and truly on the National Schools Equestrian Map. Each of the Sidcot children and their horses, train extremely hard to compete at this level, and to maintain the levels of results our riders have been achieving over these last two years highlights the level of their commitment.
A big well done to all of the children. Thank you to all of the parents both from the Junior and Senior School for their continued support from the Sidcot Eqestrian Staff.