At the end of the summer holidays Littleton Manor Equestrian Centre was host to the South East Region’s Under 18 Eventing Teams, kindly supported by LMEQ (http://www.lmeq.com) and Hit-Air (http://www.hitairuk.co.uk). For two days eighteen girls and one long suffering boy received some intensive training from Mark Corbett and Emily Baldwin in order to polish their performances before the championship at Weston Park in early October.
On the first day eleven ONu18 squad members (ten team and one reserve) arrived early in the morning. They settled their horses into LMEQ’s luxurious temporary stables, available to hire for camps alongside all their other fabulous facilities. After a quick briefing, and lots of unsuccessful prayers that the rain would stop, they began their show jumping lessons in the big square outdoor arena. Everyone was pretty wet by the end of this but, given how much it normally rains at Weston Park, we decided this was good preparation!
By the afternoon it had finally cheered up. They had a quick trot up practice, something that is easily forgotten in the run up to a three day event, and can be very important, especially on the last day, before the eight BE100u18 team members arrived to join them.
The aim of the training camp is to improve everyone’s riding, so they do as well as possible at Weston Park, but also to allow all the team members to get to know each other. The team spirit down here in the South East is based around everyone having fun. This is the first year we have joined the training for both teams, only made possible by the kind support of Littleton Manor who let us use their wonderful facilities.
In the evening everyone gathered for food in the big marquee and it was great to see the team veterans immediately welcoming all the newer ones. After some essential information about what to expect at the championships the rest of the evening was spent bonding over a game of rounders!
On the second day everyone tackled the dressage test they are going to have to ride at Weston Park, followed by some training to smooth off any rough edges. They were much luckier with the weather so it was lovely to see some very nice tests in the sunshine. The BE100 riders also had a pop round the show jumps to make sure they were all on form.
With just over a month between this training camp and Weston Park everyone left with a list of things to practise and a competition plan to make sure they are all on top form come 9th October.
The under 18 eventing programme has been an important part of British Eventing for many years now. It is evolving all the time with the aim of being a fun learning experience for the youth in the sport. For some a place on the regional team is an aim in itself but for others it is used as a stepping stone onto the junior then hopefully young rider and senior teams.
Here in the South East we hold regular training throughout the year as well as two camps at Easter and one in the summer holidays, all three at LMEQ. To qualify for one of the teams you need to compete at the selection trials in the spring and early summer. If you would like to get involved next year please contact the South East Coordinator, Sheila Barker, on email@example.com
How did they all get on…?
I’m pleased to report that everyone had a great week. The teams all got on really well together and made the most of going to a big event with the advice and guidance of two such high class coaches. Our novice team got off to a great start and led after the dressage. They held this position after a very influential cross country phase then were just pipped into third in a nail-biting final show-jumping phase. However, all was not lost as we also had the individual winner; Sophia Sjoborg on Contessa.
Sadly the 100 team did not have quite such a happy time. A couple of our more experienced combinations had very uncharacteristic stops but we also had some really promising performances from some less experienced riders which is exciting for the future. Our best result was Immie Long on Foxdon Half Pint who finished on her dressage score and came 13th in a highly competitive class.
A final thank you to our two sponsors Littleton Manor Equestrian Centre (http://www.lmeq.com) for the use of their facilities and Hit-Air (http://www.hitairuk.co.uk) who provided xc kit and air jackets for all our riders. We were certainly the smartest team there!