AN equestrian team from Burgess Hill School for Girls is aiming high again this year- determined to qualify for the fifth successive year for the National Schools Equestrian Association’s National Dressage Championships. At the end of October last year, a dressage team of Year 11 students made the trip to the prestigious venue of Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire for this event.
Those representing the school were Joahanna Lawless, Rachael Hawkins, Alice Reffin and Sarah Rogers. They travelled up prior to competition day to compete in an afternoon warm-up class.
Sarah Rogers recalled:”The warm-up test was very useful to get the ponies used to the buzzing atmosphere and the size of the arenas. The ponies all behaved really well and we were feeling quietly confident about the team tests the next day. My horse Lady and I picked up a pleasing fifth place. Rachael and her horse Sonny qualified for the 1m10 show jumping championship. Despite a shaky start they managed a fantastic round over a challenging course. ”
The following day, Johanna and Alice competed first in their Prelim class, and both produced good tests with Johanna finiishing in sixth place in her arena, and Alice 16th on her horse Henry, who was competing at Addington for the first time.
Later in the day, Rachael and Sarah competed in Novice classes. Sarah and Lady finished in sixth place in their arena- an excellent result against strong competition. Rachael rode a good test but had trouble with Sonny’s counter canter, losing a number of marks but still finishing a respectable fifteenth place in a big field. The Burgess Hill school team finished in tenth place overall out of 24 teams- a great improvement from the previous year when they were in 22nd place.
Sarah said: “We were all very excited to support Rachael’s ‘Jumping With Style’ championships ,which comprised show jumps and indoor cross country fences. The course looked incredibly big, The competition was a very high standard, with the eventual winner having represented Great Britain. Despite this tough competition.Rachael managed an excellent seventh place. ”
On the Sunday, three of the girls competed in individual competition. In the morning, Johanna competed in her Prelim individual class with her horse DJ and achieved an impressive 68 per cent and seventeenth place. Sarah had qualified for both the Elementary and Prelim individual competitions, but had to pull out of the Prelim because her horse, Lady, felt stiff after her first class.
She said: “I was fairly pleased with my Elementary test, although Lady ‘accelerated’ rather too much in her medium canter. I lost four marks because I had to add an extra circle to regain control but still managed to achieve 69 per cent and third place up against some very smart-looking horses.”
Rachael and her horse Sonny performed well and he maintained a good counter canter beautifully. The duo did extremely well to finish in ninth place on only Rachael’s second Elementary level test. Sarah added: “We are grateful for the support from the school and our team trainer who helped and supported us throughout the year. We are looking forward to qualifying for the 2015 competition.”