The Road to Aintree

August 8, 2017


2016 we qualified and went to conquer the RoR Championships at Aintree and Houghton Hall. Within our own personal goals we had achieved some conquests but there were also areas needing a lot more practise.

At the end of 2016 I said I would have a year's break from the long journey to Aintree. Famous last words as the competitor in me jumped out of its cage. To be honest it was an easy decision, the BD RoR finals were moving to Aintree and the old format of two separate shows had morphed into one massive week long Championship Show. 


At the start of 2017 I eagerly awaited the release of the qualifying dates for the BD section, great I had at least three shows/chances to qualify. 

First one of the year was Cholderton. I pencilled in Quainton in preference to Pachesham as it was nearer with less heavy traffic; Hubby was also after me for some holiday dates for a weekend break to see his Mum in Cornwall. East Soley was also pencilled into the June calendar. I decided the others were too far to travel to and the next closest Hunters was on the same day as East Soley, 


The winter of 2016 and heading into 2017 saw myself and Alfie not completely losing it but our perfect partnership was way off what it had been over the summer of 2016.

We increased our training schedule and picked two instructors to work closely with to keep some consistency.


April 2nd Cholderton Qualifier was with P15 and N23. 

We had a great training session with Cara the day before working on my posture and timing of the give and retake, making sure I had control of the horses shoulders on the circles, and creating enough activity in the canter in particular not allowing the right hind to be lazy or trail. 

One of those days were the warm up was fab, I had enough whip tickle response to have activity in the canter. The Medium work is still training in progress but I had some good strides in the warm up. 

I asked Dad to read N23 as it wasn't completely set in my brain and not one we ride regularly. 

The day went ok there was a lot of tension through the contact in the prelim and the walk was juddery, which was disappointing.

After we loosened the drop section of the Micklem bridle the Novice felt much better. Unfortunately we lost the shoulders on the trot circles and the medium canter lost straightness.

There were some amazingly smooth moving retrained racers there that day, We didn't get a qualifying place. We did have a much improved warm up and the tests went smoother compared to previous shows for us, so we went home happy with our efforts. 


Whilst on our journey for BD qualification we are collecting RoR League points. This year the league split between affiliated and unaffiliated competitions, we are full BD members so our My Quest and Team Quest scores are allocated to our affiliated sheets.

Throughout 2016 we also collected League points and topped the affiliated section for RoR West Region, coming second overall in our region. This gave us our Aintree tickets for the 2017 League Championships 



Back to the training sessions where we concentrated on keeping control of the free walk. When Alfie jogged or anticipated a med walk pick up we halted. When he was a bit stodgy we had the courage to kick on and open up the stride asking him to work more over his back to show the swing the judges are looking for.

We used the counter canter and canter leg yield to help straighten up the wayward shoulder.


Working on me, we bridged my reins to show me how much I throw away the right rein. Working on the canter on the CL we worked on my straightness correcting the slip by stepping into my right stirrup and concentrating on where my left shoulder is.



Confidence recharged we were ready to enter the Qualifier at Quainton........ No, they change the date to the weekend we had booked the hotel. That left East Soley as our last chance to get our BD Aintree tickets to the Championships. We were on mission 'Get Qualified' which meant double weekend training sessions with Tom and training sessions with Cara at the venue.

End of June Tom decided it was time to work on my balance so away with my stirrups. My Ginger Ninja is like riding a comfy sofa but Alfie when he doesn't let me in is what I can only described as like sitting on a pneumatic drill, top that off with him wiggling like a snake. I stayed on but I have no idea how. 


We had a great time at the Sparsholt Dressage Festival Weekend where we conquered our fear of N39, we took the Unaffiliated Prelim Championship on the Saturday and won the BD P19 class on the Sunday. Exactly what our confidence needed.

In the last training session with Cara before the Qualifier we worked on the transitions for P12 and N24. We were in a good place we had this.


Well what can I say I really shouldn't look at the start lists and then compare myself to others in the warm up its so destructive but yet I do it every time. To be honest I went into the tests confident but thinking I was beaten, this didnt make me ride any less in fact weirdly it sometimes takes the pressure off and I actually relax a bit more. Both tests had a few mini hiccups so not as polished as I had hoped for but I was chuffed with how they went. 

Well blow me over again if I didn't win the Prelim and take second place in the Novice.

That gave us two tickets to Aintree. Yipppppeeeeee. 

The best bit was taking the novice second place with the higher collectives on a joint overall score. We never win the collectives race. That session without stirrups was worth every min of worry about slipping off. 








Plan of action get out to run through the tests we will be riding at the Championships.

Make sure we know them inside out.

Practice Practice Practice








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By Gaelann East
The Wacky Racers Dressage Team
England UK

© 2017 Gaelann East

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