Hobbling for the NHS!

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Alice Oppenheimer Grand Prix 750x440 - Hobbling for the NHS!

Alice Oppenheimer Grand Prix 150x100 - Hobbling for the NHS!Valegro II, the hobby horse brother of super star Valegro, raised £2,000 after 66 bids in the recent Dressage Anywhere online auction in aid of the NHS Charities Urgent Appeal.

New owner Tracy* had signed up to the NHS volunteer responder programme but was wondering if there was anything else she could do to help the NHS. Tracy had watched Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro twice at Olympia in the freestyle and fell in love with him. 

She herself did not start riding until her early thirties but found that ‘horses have changed my life’. Her current horse is working at medium level, but she says ‘Carl Hester thought he (Valegro II) had international potential. I have a spare stable and lots of grass so I felt this might be my chance to compete in tails before I hit 50 this year’.

Good luck to Tracy and Valegro and thank you from Dressage Anywhere and the NHS.         

Hobby Horse Online Dressage Competition

Isabelle arena letters 300x225 - Hobbling for the NHS!Sara Jane Lanning 225x300 - Hobbling for the NHS!Contributions from the dressage community did not stop there. When Dressage Anywhere closed its April online competition following advice from British Dressage, Nereide Goodman came up with the idea that riding hobby horses might be safer and riders would be at less risk of having to use the emergency services and hospitals. 

As her business partner Ruth Chappell said, “At first I thought Nereide had lost the plot but thinking about it further we thought the idea might have legs or in this case a leg. We start giggling about all the things we could do, the tests we could run and the judges we could enlist and that set the tone of the competition.”

Dressage Online had a platform in place to run it all online, so Ride a Hobby Horse for the NHS was launched. They are absolutely thrilled and grateful that so many from the equestrian world entered into the spirit of the event as well as contributing another £2,000 to charity.

Chocolate to the Rescue

Grand Prix judge Stephen Clark was able to give many high marks throughout but did comment that some of the lateral work was rather wooden and lacking suppleness. After judging 51 entries Stephen ran out of energy (and chocolate) himself.

He kept advising chocolate for more impulsion, better quality Belgium or Swiss chocolate for more fluency and often remarked that it was obvious that Cadbury was being eaten when the paces were rather grounded. 

Another Judge Required

With still more entries coming in, a second Grand Prix class was judged by Isobel Wessels. Although smaller in numbers this class was again very high in ability. Isobel said she was blown away with the quality. Her winner Holly, riding Penelope Pitstop scored 91.09% and just pipped Stephen’s winner – Sophia riding Pebbles Don’t Float who was awarded 89.78%.  

Isobel said ‘Holly set it all up as though she was riding a proper Grand Prix. The positioning was good throughout, the transitions precise and balanced and the paces light footed. Even the background music was perfect and actually I felt a little mean taking 8.01 marks away’.

Sara Jane Lanning plaits 225x300 - Hobbling for the NHS!Jennie Loriston-Clarke found it ‘great fun’ judging the Freestyles. ’So much effort had been put into the outfits and into the music. However, some marks were lost in the lack of accuracy and in the choreography. Some pirouettes for example, were only shown one way and some of those were on the wrong leg with no bend’. However, there were no such problems with the winner Alice Oppenheimer. 

As Jennie said ‘Alice and Legless carried themselves in a very correct way just as a real combination should do. Sara Green’s music had medically related themes from Dr Finlay’s Casebook, Casualty, Staying Alive and to finish A Spoonful of Sugar (with which to take your pill).

Sara said, ‘When Alice phoned me, we were both so excited – it was as though we had won Olympia!’

Sarah-Jane Lanning took time out from competing in other classes to judge the Novice. She thought ‘it was wonderful so many people in a huge range of ages got involved.

Lots of energy and work went into the tests and some added great commentary. It was just as much fun to judge as well as take part’. The winning rider Aderyn Walker was thrilled with her score but was a little worried about her 26-year old’s head as he did suffer from some woodworm.

Tests for Everyone!

The Pony Club tests were judged by International riders Alice Oppenheimer and Becky Moody. Not sure if making letters and dressage arenas count as part of home schooling but much obvious effort had been put into them. Hale Happy Hackers with five year old twins Beatrice and Edmund and nine year old Toby gave an emotive musical presentation to thank the NHS for all they are doing for their father who is poorly at the moment.

Natasha Baker judged a big RDA class with many impressive movements being awarded 10s. Lizzie Bennett was awarded the second highest score of the day with 97.27%. Naomi Sutton’s horse had a magnificent head and they produced the best pirouette of the day in a wheelchair – very tight and keeping the balance. Not to be outdone the riders in the British Eventing test judged by Richard Baldwin showed they are capable of riding flying changes after all despite their reputation in riding this movement.

Dressage Anywhere’s regular monthly competitions have started up again now that restrictions on riding have been lifted. These run from Introductory to Advanced. Training classes right up to Grand Prix are available with BD List 1 or FEI judges who will be giving more detailed feedback than they would normally have time to do in a competition.

Although the Hobby Horse competition is now finished you can still watch all the fun on the scoreboard: https://www.dressageanywhere.com/Home/Results and our highlights video: https://youtu.be/0IzW_XT2DQc. And if you enjoy them, please consider leaving a small donation on our fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/dressageanywherehobbyhorse.

* The winning bidder in the auction does not wish her full name to be disclosed.

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