Posted by: rstor | October 21, 2011

Catch up with Sarah Millis in her Local Rider magazine blog

European drama                     

We have had yet another busy month, with lots of young horses on the yard, and the tail end of the summer’s competitions to attend – although one of the most exciting events as a trainer has surely been my pupil Mel Beer’s trip to Broholm, Denmark, for the 2011 Junior and Young Rider European Championships.

Mel was one of two riders, along with Sophie Wells, competing individually for Britain in the Under 21 category. With her horse Celestial King, or CK, Mel finished in 20th place individually; an outstanding achievement against an international field. CK performed exactly as Mel and I would have liked him to. “He gave me everything he had, I honestly could not have asked for any more from him, what a super-star!” Mel said after the contest. “He may not be the most impressive or expressive, but we squeezed every mark we could out of the judges by being correct and as accurate as possible.”

There’s a lot of pressure to be had at an event like the Europeans, and Mel and Sophie, as well as the junior teams, did well to stay calm and focussed and do Britain proud. (Especially as Mel’s lorry broke down in Germany, on the way to the event – the trials and tribulations of international travel! Junior Rider Emma Corbett’s family thankfully provided a rescue operation).

Brits abroad

Talking of the best of British, I have to give a mention to the fabulous first place win for Britain at the recent Senior European Championships in Rotterdam. The British team secured our county’s first ever team gold medal in able-bodied dressage on the world stage, with Germany and the Netherlands taking the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Carl Hester’s ride Uthopia, co-owned by Sasha Stewart, was particularly impressive and Carl is a rider who has worked tirelessly to achieve this level of success. I know he was emotional on the day, especially as his pupil Charlotte Dujardin was on the team, in only her sixth International Grand Prix test with Valegro; an amazing horse co-owned by Carl and Roly Luard.

Carl and Laura Bechtolsheimer also went on to win silver and bronze respectively in the event’s grand prix special, with Dutch rider Adelinde Cornilessen and her unstoppable ride Parzival taking gold. Britain is truly a contender against leading nations Germany and the Netherlands, and there’s little to chose between the world’s top horses when they are at their best. It is a very promising time for dressage and Britain.

Could you volunteer?

Did you know that British Dressage is looking for volunteers? The sport simply couldn’t happen without them. Here are some fast facts:

• All British Dressage judges are unpaid volunteers – even the ones at Grand prix level.

• The nine Board Directors of British Dressage are voluntary, as are all 56 of the regional committee staff.

• At competitions, all scorers, stewards, runners (who collect test sheets from the judges and take them to the secretary’s office), writers (who write down the judge’s comments) and many of the show secretaries do it for the love of the sport.

BD is also looking for writers (to write for the judges) for the Winter Championship – applications close on the 31st January 2012. The application form can be downloaded from Writing for judges is a great way to get to know what they are looking for, and watch and learn from other riders.

An RS-ting development

I advocate the use of the RS-tor rider safety aid, and was interested to hear that a customer as far afield as Japan has been in touch with the company to explain that he is conducting an informal study into how the heart beat is affected by fear when riding – he plans to use the RS-tor as part of his studies with a sport psychologist into how to physiologically calm an anxious rider. How enterprising! Visit for product info.

Article first published in Local Rider magazine.





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