Riders reflect on the 2024 Red Gorilla Combined Training qualifiers

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Tue, 19 Mar 2024 14:00 GMT

With the 2024 Red Gorilla Combined Training qualifiers coming to an end this weekend, and venues running successful shows throughout January, February and March. We caught up with a couple of combinations who’ll be heading to the Championships at Onley Grounds, 27 – 28 April.

Charlotte Dorey And Cali

Attending Brook Farm in Essex, Charlotte Dorey and her Irish Sports Horse, Deards Silver Bounce (pictured above) gained their qualification in the Prelim and 70cm class. Becoming a partnership in 2021, the then four-year-old was very green Charlotte tells us, “she was a complete project - she had been backed but that was it, could barely trot in a straight line let alone be the dressage diva she is today! I bought Cali in the hopes of doing a bit of everything, which we have done over the last three years.”

Having a passion from a young age, Charlotte has had horses all her life, after living abroad for some time she is now based in Kent. “We only began our affiliated journey back in June and I have been so chuffed with Cali’s attitude and performance at every show.” They qualified straight away for The U25 Championships at Sheepgate, where they placed in the top five of every class they entered, “Cali really tends to pull it out of the bag for me!” 

They wanted to take part in the Red Gorilla Combined Training series due to Cali’s love of jumping and to give Charlotte the confidence, “I would say that I am predominately a dressage rider and I'm like a duck out of water with the jumping. She has plenty of scope, so it’s totally me as a rider who is holding her back.” It was a good opportunity for the pair as Charlotte wanted to give Cali the experience, “it’s perfect for us as it’s a win-win, Cali’s always puts up with dancing dressage for me, so I can make sure I hang on for the jumping!” However, they didn’t expect to qualify on their first outing with an over 70% dressage score.

Working hard on their training in the run up to the show, Charlotte has been focusing on seeing the correct stride into the jump, “Cali has plenty of scope so I feel that we’re not jumping high enough for her, but because I can struggle to see a stride, I don’t want to knock our confidence.” They are also working on Novice at home, such as the counter canter and medium movements. 

On the day Charlotte was thrilled with their performance, “I couldn’t have asked more from Cali and am so pleased that we managed to qualify. It was also fantastic to have a show, with fab prizes and champagne for those on the podium.” Giving her thanks to the venue too, “it was our first competition at Brook Farm, which is a lovely venue, everyone was super friendly and supportive.”

Charlotte Dorey And Cali Combined Training

Charlotte and Cali achieved more success during their second outing of the championship campaign at Golden Cross Equestrian! The pair won the Novice and 80cm, and finished 3rd in the Prelim and 80cm, meaning they have now qualified for two classes at the championships in April. 

Charlotte spoke to us about her second Combined Training event, "Cali and I had a fantastic outing to Golden Cross. It was our first competition at Golden Cross which is a lovely venue, everyone was super friendly and welcoming and it was so lovely to see how everyone else got on, there were some fab combinations there."

Cali not putting a foot wrong all day and after only stepping up to Novice recently Charlotte explains, "Cali hasn't quite sussed the medium moments yet but I couldn't fault her one bit, she tried her heart out for me, I was so pleased with both dressage tests." After going clear in both showjumping rounds Charlotte realised that the bigger jumps definitely suited Cali better. 

Beyond thrilled about qualifying for the Championships in two classes, Charlotte tells us, "we are so looking forward to it, particularly looking forward to seeing how Cali and I fare against all the successful combinations who have managed to qualify. Of course I am going to be thrilled regardless of how we do." The journey the two of them have been on is inspiring, from owning the grey mare from a barely backed four-year-old, educating her herself, "it would be great to see her hold her own against some cracking horses." 

"I am so proud of Cali, we have achieved far more during the BD Combined Training series than I ever imagined. We’d mainly been focusing on our dressage and had hardly jumped before these competitions, so to have been so successful is amazing. I think anyone would be pleased as punch to have got a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th all from two shows! A huge thank you to British Dressage, Red Gorilla and all the lovely venues for organising such a wonderful series." 

Stephanie Lynch And Atlas

Stephanie Lynch and Journeys Atlas (pictured above) attended the Combined Training qualifier at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre on 18 February, Stephanie describes the event at SNEC as ‘great’ and on the day there was a, “very relaxed and friendly atmosphere and was very well run.”  

Speaking about her own journey with Atlas Stephanie tells us, “I bred Atlas so I'm lucky enough that we have been a partnership from the beginning. I bred him out of my eventing pony when she picked up an injury and used the stallion Jigilo from Grafham Stud.” The timing was very important to Stephanie, breeding the gelding while she was at university meant that he would be coming through for when she had finished her degree and working, "I now work as a corporate solicitor so I fit competing around work - never a dull moment!” 

“I chose the Combined Training series because it's a great opportunity to compete in both dressage and jumping on the same day. There are a few unaffiliated events like this around, but very few where you can compete under a BD affiliated judge.” The series also allows for you and your horse to try something new during the winter season, giving you the chance to compete in two disciplines at one event, “it's also something a bit different and keeps it interesting for the horses!”  

During the summer season Stephanie and Atlas go eventing, with the eventing season beginning a couple of weeks after the Combined Training qualifier at SNEC, the series gave them the opportunity to have a goal to work towards and also keep their skills sharp before the eventing season begins. “We actually turn into eventers in the summer, so as the start of the season is just a few weeks away we are starting to get more jumping practice in after a winter of BD dressage.”  

In preparation for the qualifier Stephanie explains, “we have been practising our elementary test. It's nice to have something to work towards in schooling sessions as home - I always prefer to have a focus of some kind! We hadn't actually managed to do much jumping before the event but I'm lucky enough that Atlas didn't let that phase him and managed to jump a nice clear round.”

The Combined Training series has helped the combination prepare for an exciting season ahead of them, “were lucky enough to have qualified for the BE100 National Grassroots Championships at Badminton in May so the prep work is definitely on for that. Hopefully our winter competing BD dressage will stand us in good stead for the eventing season ahead!”

Reflecting on her experience at the show Stephanie tells us, “a friend and I commented on the day, that it was a real nice atmosphere and that we'd do the series again. We're lucky to have a venue like SNEC close by as it's big enough to be able to host something like this all indoors.” None of this would be possible without our wonderful venues’ teams and staff, the judges, stewards and volunteers and of course the incredible support of our sponsors Red Gorilla.  

If you would like to get involved in the Red Gorilla Combined Training series next year, all the information you need can be found here: