It is two years since the last National Schools Equestrian Championships and a lot has happened to the riding squad since then, with riders leaving, riders changing horses and riders moving from ponies to horses. There have been fewer regional qualifying competitions in the last year too, which meant that those taking place were even more competitive than usual.
However, despite everything, and with generally fewer experienced riders, we qualified to compete in all three disciplines of Dressage, Show Jumping and Arena Eventing. For many this was their first taste of a big stay away championship and when Covid threw us a curve ball at the last minute the plan was to use this year as a building block for next.
I have to say, however, that everyone rose to the challenge and our results exceeded all expectations. There were the inevitable lows amongst the highs but team spirit and support amongst the riders was the strongest I have seen it at such an event, in no small part due to our Captains of Riding Issy and Tom.
It was certainly a successful weekend for Issy H., taking two National Individual titles in both the Open and the Advanced Open Arena Eventing (Jumping with Style). Tom S. was in silver medal position next to her in the Advanced Open (as well as 7th in the Open) and Lucy LM. was 5th in the Open. Georgia S. joined them in the team competition where they finished in bronze position.
Both our Intermediate teams finished in the final eight line-up in 6th and 8th, the only school to achieve this, and our dressage team of just three riders (Maisie Z., Georgia S. and Lucy LM.) took 8th place in their final. In the Individual Dressage, Georgia S. won her arena to go through to the four-way ride off, where, after a tense wait she finished in silver medal position in the Prelim Championship. Lucy LM. picked up 8th in the Novice Championship.
Our Open Show Jumping team of Tom and Rory S., Tessa P. and Megan T. were possibly the real surprise of the weekend, making it into the jump off for the top eight teams after the first round, with all four riders posting clear rounds in the jump off to finish in 5th spot. Our final success came in the RPL Mixed Show Jumping final, where riders jumping at different heights join forces in a real team effort. Good rounds from first timers Anya M. and Madeleine R. and Katie C. meant our team finished in 4th.
In competitions that had between 30 and 40 teams on average competing in them, from schools across the UK, these results were once again a real credit to our riders.