Nettex Draught Horse Associated Championships
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Clydesdales, Haflingers, Irish Sport Horses and full Irish Draughts were just some of the breeds down the centre line at the Nettex Draught Horse Associated Championship at Keysoe EC on 30 September. With classes ranging from Intro B to Elementary, there was a lot to see and admire.
There were separate classes for full draught and part-draught horses.
James McGivern and Graigueaverne Forester (pictured) were the show’s top scorers, with a fabulous 74.23% winning them the Nettex Novice title and they also had a second place in the Nettex Elementary. James comes from the Isle of Man and as the horse is a poor traveler and sometimes needs sedation, they arrived in Keysoe a week early. Their 600-mile round trip was worthwhile though, with such great performances.
James bought ‘Mac’, an 18hh by Shenandoah Prince Holly, last year when he was seven. “He’s still sometimes a bit green in the arena but he felt really in front of me and for most of the test I was just steering!” commented James. “Afterwards the judges told me they were impressed by his correct training and that I had ridden the most accurate test of the day.”
Mac is a bit of a self-harmer, having previously got stuck in the living of his lorry and a week before leaving for the mainland, he got all four legs stuck in a five-bar gate. In the past James has worked as a groom and rider but now owns a domiciliary care agency.
Abbi Willetts has owned her Nettex Intro B winner, 15-year-old Clydesdale Arclid Alfie for nine years. She bought the bay roan with four white socks as her first horse from a trekking centre.
An infected pastern joint threatened his ridden career but he has come right and Abbi affiliated him a year ago. “We did dressage as I thought it would be less taxing and it turns out he’s quite capable at it,” said Abbi. “He’s very light on his feet, a proper dancing diva. I’m very proud of my horse, he and I have come a long way.
Abbi works in construction management and is the mother of five-year-old twins. This was her and Alfie’s first overnight trip. “He was a star – an absolutely gentleman throughout. My challenge for next year is to qualify for the Novice regionals and Elementary Area Festivals.”
Nettex Elementary Champion was Heather White and Hawklands Echo, an 18hh seven-year-old by Avanti Amorous Archie. She has owned him since he was an unbroken three-year-old and bought him from Cornwall.
“I’ve backed and produced him myself with the help of Clare Ballantyne,” said Heather who works full-time as a solicitor in Stoke-on-Trent. “He’s been to the summer regionals at Novice and Elementary and is qualified for winter regionals at Elementary and Medium. This was our first time at the Draught Championships – it’s been our goal every year but something always cropped up to stop us getting here.”
“This was one of the best tests he’s ever done. He was really rideable and with me. His trot work was some of the best he’s done,” she commented. “It all came together and the judge at C gave me 72%! I was very proud of how he behaved at his first major championships.
Last year Echo’s full brother Hawklands Argento Amore won the Prelim and Novice titles with Kirstie Clarke.
Janet Mathews and Avanti Flirty Gerty had a super day, winning the Nettex Prelim title as well as being reserve Nettex Novice Champion. Janet has owned the British-bred 14-year-old mare since she was a yearling.
Over the years they’ve done all the riding club disciplines but are now concentrating on dressage. Janet was thrilled to have taken part in two mounted prize-givings and to have won one of the coveted sashes. “She’s taken me to the BD regionals and Welsh championships,” said Janet who travelled all the way from Wales. “In the Prelim test she was a little excited in the outdoor arena and a bit fresh. She was more settled in the Novice. She’s an excellent horse – I’m so pleased with her.”
Former show horse and eventer, Moonshine II, won both Novice and Elementary championships. The 12-year-old gelding, ridden by Helen Airey, is by Touch Of The Blues and is owned by breeder Chris McGrann.
“He stopped eventing after an injury and I’ve been riding him for nearly 12 months,” said Helen who works three days a week as a chartered accountant and has two young children. “Chris offered me the ride on Billy when my own horse was injured.”
Billy’s transition to dressage has gone well and the pair were 17th at Novice Silver at the National Championships. “He was super in both tests and we got 8 and 9 in the Elementary for his final medium trot and halt. He’s a real character and lovely to have on the yard. His favourite thing is to turn the feed room light on and off.”
Helen will be moving him up to Medium over the winter with the help of Chris, Sarah Rogers and the training with Stephen Clarke organised by the Northern Dressage Group.
Nettex Prelim Champion Just Look At Me was bought four years ago as a three-year-old for the hacking business Zanna Saville was running at the time. “All he’d done was hunt in Ireland and hack. I bought him as he was safe as houses,” explained Zanna. “He’d never been in a school and couldn’t canter in the arena. We affiliated in April 2017 and qualified for Keysoe summer regionals in 2017 and 2018 and Eastern and Otley winter regionals this year.”
“He felt amazing in the test, really relaxed,” said Zanna, who trains with international Grand Prix rider Paul Friday. “He’s a really willing horse and always tries so hard. “
Belinda Burdett and Treble Maker were the only combination to come forward for the Nettex Intro B class. She has owned ‘Lloyd’, an Irish sports horse, for four years and has evented him up to BE90.
“He does tend to switch off in the dressage – he prefers jumping!” said Janet who enjoyed their first experience of competing away and taking part in the championships. Janet hails from Lowestoft where she works full-time in the motorsport industry. “It was nice to be judged by high level judges.”
Congratulations to all the riders who took part. British Dressage thanks the team at Keysoe for a successful Championship event as well as title sponsor Nettex for their generous support of the Associated Championship series.
Intro for pure-breds
Abbi Willets with Arlid Alfie, 69.02%
Intro for part-breds
Belinda Burdett and Treble Maker, 63.04%
Preliminary for pure-breds
Janet Mathews with Avanti Flirty Gerty, 66.98%
Preliminary for part-breds
Zanna Saville and Just Look At Me, 71.56%
Novice for pure-breds
James McGivern and Graigueaverne Forester, 74.23%
Novice for part-breds
Helen Airey and Moonshine II, 70.96%
Elementary for pure-breds
Heather White and Hawklands Echo, 71.09%
Elementary for part-breds
Helen Airey and Moonshine II, 70.55%