The last weekend of half term was a busy time for the Sidcot Equestrian Team. It was time for the hard work and training of all team members and their ponies to be put to the test. The aim of this event was to attempt to qualify Sidcot School for the national finals to be held in April at Addington. This was going to be quite a task as the competition was fiercely contested by schools from both Somerset and Avon.
The weekend commenced very early on Saturday morning, with all ponies groomed for turn out, loaded and driven to compete at King Sedgmoor Equestrian Centre. Nerves were plenty, but the Sidcot riders knew what was at stake. The first class of the day the 60cm warm up class was entered by Lauren Wilkins and her pony, Beans. Lauren rode a lovely round with just a few poles rolled but gained sixth place. This set her up well for class two the 70cm where she again rode a lovely individual round.
As it was Halloween weekend the course builders didn't make it easy for any of the riders and horses, with ghosts and pumpkins adorning many of the fences. For those reading this whom may be wondering what's the significance... this meant that the fences were particularly scary for the ponies, many of whom objected to these extra adornments and unseated many competitors, and added to the pre-competition nerves.
The 70cm team comprised of Sophie Lee on Billy, Elsa Cardel on Cameron, Erin Croft on Rosco and Henry Blair on Ivy. This was a hotly contested class with all four Sidcot riders jumping clear within fantastic time placing them in the lead and overall winners of the class. This meant the team had secured their place at the national finals. The children were delighted and were also awarded individual prizes for their efforts.
After the teams 70cm class it was time for the individual riders to step up to the mark. Both Henry Blair on Ruby and Neve Harvey on Scout guided their particularly young rides around the tricky course and both rode beautiful well executed rounds.
It was then the turn of the 80cm team, this time comprising of Caoimhe Collery on Harper, Lottie Gunter on Rohan, Henry Blair on Ivy and Elsa Cardel riding Cameron. Excitement and nerves were building amongst the children and their horses. Sidcot was the fifth team to go so they knew clear rounds were important. Elsa Cardel and Cameron were first to go, riding a clear round with a good quick time. Next to face the pressure was Lottie Gunter who again rode a beautiful clear round with good time setting the team up well. It was Caoimhe Collery's turn next with Harper and she too held her nerve and rode a beautiful clear round with a fast time. Finally, it was Henry Blair’s turn riding Ivy, this pair didn't disappoint either another clear round with a great time. The Sidcot team were the only school on the day to ride four clear rounds with excellent times resulting in the team being crowned overall winners of Avon and securing their place again at the national finals. Not only did they secure their team place, each one of the team were recognised for their individual achievements so rosettes were plentiful for team Sidcot.
It was then the turn of Neve Harvey and Scout to tackle this tricky course and Neve did just that riding beautifully to ensure Scout held his nerve and was a great ambassador for the school.
It is fair to say the long day was justly rewarded. The Sidcot children were yet again commended by many competitors on their skilful riding and notably their team spirit which was clear to see. Their daily dedication to keep their ponies fit and healthy to compete and represent their school was justly rewarded. To have one team compete for any school at national level is a fantastic achievement, to have two teams is just remarkable so what would Sunday bring? Could this be a treble for Sidcot to compete at national level?
Day two of the NSEA qualifiers saw Caoimhe Collery on Harper Seven, Lottie Gunter on Just Rohan and Frieda Cardale on Sienna compete in the 90cm class. With 35 competitors, 7 schools and riders of ages through to upper sixth, competition was very stiff. The team rode magnificently placing third overall in the combined Somerset and Avon class and qualified to represent Avon at the NSEA National Championships to be held at Addington in April 2017. Individually, Caoimhe and Harper Seven placed second in the Avon class and third overall across Somerset and Avon, Lottie and Just Rohan placed fourth and Frida and Sienna fifth. The team are very thankful to all non-riders and parents that came to support the athletes during the weekend.
With the team qualified for the national championships in three classes and the recent success of the equestrian program at the grass roots level, Iain Kilpatrick, Headmaster, commented “I am delighted that our Equestrian Team has done so well. Not only do they show high levels of skill in their riding, but also represent Sidcot with great distinction. I wish them every success in their forthcoming competitions and look forward to hearing how they have got on. I’m very grateful to the riders and their parents for the hours of preparation they put in before competitions, which is clearly paying off in style!’
In upcoming events, Caoimhe Collery and Harper Seven will represent Sidcot in the NSEA Eventers Challenge at Pontispool on 6th November and the team will represent Sidcot in the NSEA Plate at Keysoe on 3 and 4 December.
Students and parents interested in getting involved with Sidcot Equestrian and learning more about how to get involved in riding or develop their skills to competition level should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorraine Curtin-Blair & Gavin Collery
Sidcot Equestrian Team