Maidstone and District Riding Club Update

Since our last update we have had a very busy time, with lots of varied clinics to attend as well as shows that we have entered and organised, like our Fun Prix Caprilli held at Street Farm. Prix Caprilli used to be an official Riding Club competition which has been replaced with separate Riding Test and Style Jumping competitions. But as is so often the way we find some things from the past are well worth reviving! We at Maidstone Riding Club have now run 4 evening Prix Caprillis over the last 2 summers, and they have all been great fun. The tests take place in a 20 x 40 arena at 3 levels from Intro to Novice, with 3 jumps from 40cm to 70cm which are jumped in the course of the test some from trot some from canter. Those of us who take part regularly are more in control in our jumping than we used to be and ride more forward in our dressage too – its a win win result! Our judges love it too…

Our Open Show/Eventers Challenge held on 30th June is so popular it is set to become an annual feature. We ran it again this year at Bonfleur XC Course in Linton.  We were all very pleased that the weather was markedly better than the previous year!  Once again Ollie Pascal did a fantastic job creating the XC course, and we are very very grateful to all the club members and friends who came to help set up, run it all on the day and clear up at the end.  One exception was Justin Byrd who came late on the Sat afternoon (after competing in the BE90 at Eridge that day – with a lovely double clear with his horse Roly).  Having been given the task of bashing in stakes, he completed only one, before whacking himself on the head with the ‘post banger’.  Fortunately Ellie (his daughter) has now passed the driving test – so we stemmed the blood and off they went for an evening in A&E!

Fortunately the injury was not too serious so once his forehead was steri-stripped back together he was released.  Having got out of setting up – he was there good and early on Sunday and assisted all day stewarding and scoring!  Our members are made of stern stuff!

And now back to the show….

From left to right Sarah Leggat, Sarah Hall and our Chairlady Jo Cottee

From left to right
Sarah Leggat, Sarah Hall and our Chairlady Jo Cottee

We received a large number of entries; a great number of these all come in on the closing date – but after toiling late into the night on many an evening the times were sorted (Many Thanks to Karen Newman).  Everyone helping was in position on Sunday morning – one slight panic when we thought the printer wasn’t working, but it turned out the electric supply had tripped – so once back on, we were all OK.

We started with the Dressage and Combined Training sections, and sheets started pouring into the Scorer’s tent – it gets rather frenetic getting all the scores sorted, but we managed it and together with our great team in the secretary’s tent, runners, writers, judges, stewards etc sailed through the morning.  The Eventer’s Challenge sections started in the afternoon and the pace picked up even more.  We had four sections and all ran very smoothly.  Thanks to all who gave up their time to help – I think all enjoyed the day whether competing, helping or both!

The full results are on the website, but some members results:

Prelim Dressage (Class 3) – Sarah Hall 4th and Diana Ireland-Blackburne 6th

Novice Dressage (Class 4) – Diana Ireland-Blackburne 1st

Combined Training (Class 5) – Hilary Moon 5th

Eventer’s Challenge (Class 7) – Ellie Byrd 2nd

Eventer’s Challenge (Class 8A) – Gill Grundy 2nd and Georgie Kneller 5th

Eventer’s Challenge (Class 8B) – Victoria Wood 5th


Many Members competed and congratulations to all wherever you came.  Thanks to everyone who made it such a successful day – the Show Ground looked great and all did their jobs with aplomb to make it a real winner for Maidstone & District Riding Club.


National Horse Trials (Swalecliff, Banbury) – Aug 2013

Jack Field

Jack Field

The Riding Club teams qualifier for this competition was at Chilham in May – M&DRC members were most successful and 7 of us qualified for the Championships.

On Thursday 1st August Maidstone and District Riding Club eventing national championship qualifiers Sharon Polding, Sophie Leaney, Naomi Henderson, Jack Field, Wendy Thomas and Jenny Hutchinson set off to Swalcliffe Park equestrian centre.

Day 1:

After a slow start we all met at the Oxford services in a bid to arrive on sight together to set up camp.  Slight hitch before moving off, Sharon’s lorry didn’t want to be in the convoy and got a flat battery.  With a little help from her friends, we were on our way.

Well what a beautiful destination we rocked up to!  We strategically parked our lorries and trailers and settled the horses into their new quarters.  Project base camp then ignited.  Dining room, check, bedrooms, check and big bucket with water in for drinks, check!

Next, time to exercise and graze the wonderful, four legged members of the team: Dink, Dizzy, Nemo, Hughie, Nicholas and Bailey. Before the horses went to bed project plaiting embarked, what a smart team we had.  Shortly following this the feeding of the jockeys and support team.

Day 2:

Trot up and dressage for the open team and Jen. Finale day, for Wendy and Nicholas.  The open team started their campaign well with good dressage performances leaving them third after the phase. Wendy and Jenny put in strong performances too!

Next, to support Wendy showjump and go cross country.  What a fantastic performance the 20 years young man put on. A lovely showjumping round followed by a wonderful, rhythmical clear cross country.

Cross country walked once and twice by , the open team and Jen then set off for what was to some, a lively ride of the roads and tracks whilst Michelle Yeo and young Ringo arrived.  Michelle and her mum opting for a good work out, minus the horse, to find their route around the phase.

BBQ lit, a drink in hand, with cardboard, pen and watches at the ready, serious teamwork took place in sorting out timings and distances for the next day’s events. A lot of laughter and stories were shared amongst the camp.

Day 3:

Cross country day, hectic but rewarding and in the words of Jenny just ‘Brilliant!’  The ten minute box ready and waiting, well stocked with rider and horse essentials and the hands of Jenny, Natalie and Lucy.  All horses and riders passed fit after the roads and tracks, just the cross country phase to complete. Sharon and Dizzy trailblazed for the team, putting in an outstanding performance and galloping home with useful tips and guidance for those yet to go. Next to arrive home safe and sound was Sophie and Nemo.  Followed closely by Naomi and Dink.  Team anchor man/partnership Jack and Hughie came home with big smiles.

Whilst the open team performed, Michelle and Ringo started their campaign with a very positive dressage test and marvellous clear showjumping.

Later that day it was Jen and Bailey’s turn to perform on the roads and tracks and cross country.  WOW, what a magnificent clear the pair put in!

A very big thank you to Wendy Thomas for being the volunteer helper for the club on this day.


Day 4

The last day of the fun and games and some most pleasant surprises laid waiting! First and foremost trot ups for the brilliant steads. All of which passed with flying colours, much to everyone’s relief! Next stop, showjumping, to watch Jen and Bailey.  Jen rode Bailey to complete a fabulous clear and to the joy of us all landed themselves a splendid second place in their arena. Whoop, go Maidstone!

Then, back to the cross country, what could Michelle and Ringo do to improve on their great overnight score? We all positioned ourselves around the cross country to cheer on the pair as they set off cross country.  What a spectacular clear round they put in!!  Maidstone’s smiles just kept on growing! Michelle and Ringo’s clear landed them a superb fourth in their arena.

Sharon Polding

Sharon Polding

Finally, back to the showjumping for the open team’s finale. Courageous, smart rounds were jumped by all four members, only one pole leaving its cups. The breath taking moment being Sharon Polding’s round, not only was she jumping for her team but now an individual arena win and overall winner’s position.  As Dizzy landed over that final fence clear, the roars and cheers echoed the arena as proud team members and support realised there was just one winner and she happened to be one of our very own!

Not only did Sharon win but Naomi came fifth in her arena and the team came a commendable sixth place, with scores being very close on the leader board.


The camaraderie, encouragement and support shown by all Maidstone members on this weekend makes me feel very proud and privileged to be a member of such a fantastic riding club. A huge well done and congratulations to those that competed and thank you to those that helped! We make a great team!!  Fingers crossed for next year! 


On 22nd September 2013 MDRC will be holding their 5th Ride for Life in Aid of Cancer Research UK. In the 4 previous years we have raised over £25,000. And this year we hope to raise even more!

The ride takes place over 10 miles of beautiful countryside some of it only accessible for this ride, thanks to our wonderful local landowners who have allowed us to use their land. It can be ridden at your own pace and you are encouraged to dress yourself and/or your horse in Pink (yes fellers, PINK!) it isn’t obligatory, but you could win a prize for Pinkest Rider or Horse!

We have some lovely prizes donated by our sponsors – Birchalls Riding Shop, Gillet Cook, Clip Clop, Lillico, The Emporium, Protexin and Hit-Air. Wealden Wonders Photography will also be in attendance, so you can prove to your sponsors that you really did dress in pink!

And every entry gets 1 ticket into a raffle to Win either a Years Supply of Equine Gut Balancer donated by Protexin or a Voucher for £150 towards a Hit-Air Jacket! More tickets can be purchased by contacting Karen on or can be bought on the day.

Every person raising over £100 in sponsorship money will get a bottle of Pink Fizz – even if you are not riding if this cause is close to your heart, download a sponsorship form or please come along and make a donation on the day or enter our raffle, we would love to see you.

Remember, every penny MDRC raise for this event goes to CRUK, all of our Helpers and Organisers are volunteers and all expenses are met by MDRC or our kind Sponsors.

Finally, if you are Young, Old, inbetween with a passion for horses and would like to join our friendly club visit our website go to the ‘how to join page’ and download a membership form, or for a friendly chat call Jan on 07967 098094. For more information on forthcoming MDRC events take a look at the Diary page on our website.

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