Helen Philip - EquiFeast

Equifeast and Regatta sponsored rider Helen Philip

Winning return to competition

Our first competition of the year was on 6th April at “Hunters” near Cirencester which handily is only a 20 minute drive from where I keep Rubens stabled so a simple stress-fee journey! I’d agreed with my trainer Gemma Appleton to meet me at the show to help me with my warm up routine before we go into the arena and perform our Dressage test.

Although we had great success last year winning the National Championships, the competition today was one level up and technically much more difficult so a good test of how much we’ve improved over the winter training period.

Luckily the weather held up despite the forecast being for torrential rain but a lot of horses in the warm-up arena were not so well behaved! There were quite a lot of airborne antics with horses leaping and flying past me going a bit wild. Rubens coped really well and kept concentrated on me and the job in hand. I use a wireless transmitter headset through which Gemma gives me instructions whilst warming up so that helped me keep my mind focused too!

So we went in to perform our test and I am pleased to say that it went really smoothly, with us executing all the movements and Rubens really showing off his ability. We were rewarded with a score of 69.7% which was good enough to win the class (beating 2 professional riders in the process) and gaining more than half of the points we need to qualify for the summer Regional Finals at this level.

So a really successful show spoilt only by the temperature dropping massively and the heavens opening once we’d finished but I had my Regatta jacket to hand so all was OK!

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With a few more points to get to qualify for the Regional Finals (4 to be exact) I headed off to another competition on Good Friday. This time it was at a venue near Newbury which should have taken no more than an hour to get to. Unfortunately my normally very trusty co-driver and general helping hand legend, Wesley was having an off day and we got lost! It felt at one point like we’d never get off the A34 and my carefully planned day was rapidly coming undone –at Dressage competitions you have a set time to go into the arena and perform your test, so you work backwards from that to work out how long you typically need to warm-up, therefore what time you’re going to get on your horse, and what time you need to leave the stables and arrive at the venue. This is a doddle for most of us dressage riders as we’re pretty OCD types generally, but when it goes wrong...oh lord!

Anyway, we eventually got there with just about enough time to work out where everything was and quickly warm up. In we went in a bit of a fluster to perform our test. This time the mark was not so good (64.7%) as the arena surface was very deep and poor old Rubens was a bit tired from the long journey so wasn’t able to perform to his best.

However the mark was good enough to win the class, so another red rosette and some more qualifying points, and just 1 left to get!
Helen Philip

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