Posted by: rstor | April 24, 2012

Va Va Voom in Vidauban

International Grand prix dressage rider Sarah Millis, of Millstones competition yard in Sussex, shares her latest news in the latest Local Rider magazine

The Millstones team recently attended the Vidauban CDI3* tour in Southern France in early March. We were pleased with our performance, but as usual, you always hope for more! This year being an Olympic year, there were over 80 Grand Prix horses competing; some for Olympic qualification, as the cut off date was the 1st March, the last day of the show. It does make 2012 a long year for some of the horses, as they need to be at their best very early in the year to make the Olympic qualification and then maintain that level up to and including the Olympics late in the summer. The last few weeks have highlighted the success that Britain is experiencing within the sport, however!

We took my young ride, Furst Henrik, to the event for training purposes, and he was placed third in the preliminary six year old class with 71.8. We also took Furst Rubin along for the experience; it is great exposure for the youngsters. Meanwhile, one of my top rides, HP Frontier, was thirteenth with 64.426 in the Grand Prix Special, and tenth in the Olympic Grand Prix Special with 66.911. Most of the winning scores across the board averaged around the 70-mark, so we were pleased with our scores – but one combination in particular seemed almost untouchable; Michael Eilberg and his young horse Woodlander Farouche, who scored 96.2 in the preliminary six year old class. That horse is a phenomenal future prospect!

My pupil Emily Cousins placed fourth in the Under 25 Intermediaire II class riding Solo Bachelorette with a score of 65.921, and was fifth in the Under 25 Grand Prix. My Finnish pupil Linnea Grunn was eighteenth in the Intermediaire I riding Niklas, with a score of 65.211, and 23rd in the Prix St Georges 64.842, one of the biggest classes at the show and this was her first international show.

The level of competition was extremely high at Vidauban and the classes very large; normally, shows such as Vidauban and the Sunshine Tour in Spain are relaxed training shows, venues whereby you can train and prepare for the coming season; but the Olympic year changed all that, with some of the world’s top riders competing there.

Dressage dreams for Britain

Thinking ahead to the Games… not only does Britain have three combinations that are the current favourites for Olympic gold, Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtoshleimer; but we are also fortunate that we could actually field a second squad all capable of scoring in excess of 70%, with Richard Davison, Emile Faurie and the exciting new combination of Michael Eilberg and Half Moon Delphi. (Who had a very successful show in Vidauban, coming fifth in the GP Special and second in the Olympic Grand Prix Special). I think it is also worth noting that Britain is now also producing more Grand Prix horses than ever before, which has to be more sustainable than relying upon individuals to buy proven talent. An even more exciting aspect is that some of these horses have actually been bred in the UK; how things can change so quickly!!

Training is a small part of producing a horse
We can spend time wishing the winter away, but in fact it is an important time to prepare and train for the coming year, as you always find the summer goes very quickly – before you know it we are all a year older! As well as using the winter months for training, it is also a good time to carry out some maintenance. We strongly believe that prevention is better than cure, and have the vet carry out regular checks and even scans and x-rays to make sure there are no issues looming that could affect the horses’ training, or even required a rest period during the busy competition periods if not caught in the early stages.

Visit Sarah’s website, for details of her riding and training, and to find out details of the RS-tor rider safety aid, a rider security aid that Sarah advocates.

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