A more detailed description of the horses that are competing at the National RDA Championship at Hartpury 2014

There is no doubt the 'Hartpury Experience' is a very special one.  Whether you are a rider or supporter, you will feel touched at some time during the weekend.

The emotion is unique to each person.  For me it is watching such powerful, strong animals listening and cooperating with their riders when they are at their most vulnerable.  The horses are away from home, from the herd, in an electric atmosphere in which it would be easy to become over awed by the whole event.  The riders are excited, nervous, probably sending some strange signals but still  the horses manage to communicate and respond accordingly.

 I watch each test with a lump in my throat at the generosity of these amazing creatures.  With that thought in mind I would like to tell you the stories of each of the competing horses for this year.

Jane Cherry 

 

Zonik

 This is Zonik's first time at Hartpury and I can't wait to see him perform.

 In his earlier years Zonik was a accomplished dressage horse.  His rider spent many, many hours training and schooling him.  Most weekends were spent at competitions where all her hard work paid off with rosettes galore.  Then tragedy struck and his young rider died very suddenly.  Her family were devastated and didn't really know what to do with Zonik.  It was decided to turn him out to grass for a while and really give him a retired life.  This must have been strange for him going from a busy life with a lot of human contact to a life in the field with his chums.

 About a year later I put an advert in the local newspaper asking for a 'schoolmaster'.  The lady looking after Zonik rang me and asked if I would like to see him.  I couldn't believe my luck, he was beautiful to look at and beautiful to ride.

 I brought him to the WRC and his main role was for teaching the more advanced riders and our trainees.  As he was so well schooled if you gave him an aid, accidently or intentionally he responded!  He was a great asset for a few years, he taught so many people a sense of feel and what it was like to experience a responsive forward going horse.

 Due to age and health we retired him from the riding school last year.  He still had lots to give but needed a less demanding role and we found two lovely ladies to take him on livery.

 I am so pleased to say that one of those ladies has qualified him for Hartpury this year.  I think when he gets there he will remember his old life and be filled with pride and vigour.  He is an old horse now but how amazing that he can give such a wonderful opportunity to his riders.

 Zonik has presence, he is a stunning horse but also a kind pleasant horse.  What a life he has had, what tales he could tell.  I would love to hear the conversation he has with the other horses on his return.

 

Amber

 Amber is a relative newcomer to Hartpury.  This is her second year.  Last year her rider Liz had only been riding her for six weeks prior to the Championships.  The fact that she was placed in both classes is testament to what an amazing horse she is.

 Amber came to WRC in April 2013.  Through no fault of her own Amber and her owner Gayle had a mishap jumping a cross country fence and Gayle fell off and broke her leg very badly.  She was unable to look after Amber so rang WRC and asked if we would like to loan her.  Gayle has owned her since she was 4 years old and has had many happy years hacking and doing local competitions.  When a horse has been owned and ridden by one person for many years the transition to a riding school environment can be a difficult one…..but not for Amber!  The day she walked on the yard she acted as though she had lived here all her life.  I had no hesitation in taking her to Hartpury last year even though I didn't really know her that well.

 In her new role she not only had new riders who would give aids that were subtly different to Gayle but she also had RDA riders who have limited control of movement and therefore give very different aids.  Amber very quickly adapted to this and seemed to understand very easily what her rider wanted.

 One of the most difficult things to find is a horse that is forward going but completely controllable and safe. That is one of the things that makes Amber so special.

 She is very calm and composed giving her riders a confidence that no words can ever give.  Amber oozes presence and a certain elegance that turns heads as she walks by.

 Last year she was amazing and I cannot wait to see her perform again this year.

 

Tom

 Tom has been loved all his life and that reflects in his personality.   He is trusting and honest and would burst his heart to please you.

 I have sketchy details of his early life and can only be certain  about the years just prior to him coming to WRC.  The story goes that Tom was a youngster on a tether and belonged to a group of travellers.  He was bought by a local lady who actually tracked him down here a few years ago and came to visit him.  It was she who told me the story of his early life.  She broke him in and rode him then circumstances meant that she had to sell him.  From there I am not too sure where he went but in 2004 he was purchased by a young girl called Megan.  She had years of fun competing at dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country.  At 18years old she chose to go to university and had to sell Tom.  I heard about him through a friend and went to see him.  I thought he was a 'gem' but little did I know how amazing he would turn out to be.

 Tom has been to many championships with lots of different riders.  He is always placed.  He thrives on the atmosphere and really enjoys 'showing off'.  There is not often I say this, but I could bet my life on that pony.  He is honest and true time and time again.  I have no doubt that he will be outstanding again this year.  He is a champion.