From the 21st to the 23rd of July, Netley Hall Equestrian Centre held their prestigious summer spectacular event and one of the competitors taking part in some of the events was PetnPony sponsored, 13-year-old, Abi Leadbetter. Abi had been selected to compete in the team competitions for the North of England. We Interviewed Abi about the competition, here's Abi's account of her amazing weekend at Netley Hall.
"On Thursday afternoon, I went with my family and my pony, Mouse, and my mum’s horse Hector, to Netley Hall Shropshire. We took our little horse and our trailer for shavings, bedding, and hay. The journey was about 4 1/2 hours without any breaks because the horses don't stand well at breaks.
We finally arrived at 10 pm, we had to park the wagon far from the stables, it took us ages to get all our stuff from the wagon to the stables. Especially the water as the barrels were taking forever to fill! We finally got to bed around midnight, but not before cleaning up with only a head torch for light!
The next day, we were up at 7 am and we fed the horses, mucked out and did a lot of spectating. My first class didn't start until 1:00 pm, this was the 138 Grand Prix Qualifier at 90cm. Mouse jumped really well and won with a double clear and was very quick! The course suited her, as she’s not the fastest but can turn tight, this course was twisty and so it was better for her.
Later Hector was taking part in the Children on Horses (COH) Class. Hector is quite a sharp horse, who knows when it’s a big occasion. On the first day, he was very excited and we had a moment in the collecting ring when another competitors horse got a bit close when cantering past and Hector set off bucking like a rodeo! Fortunately, I stayed on board and settled him down, completing our warm-up routine. He was jumping very well.
His class was a big technical track full up to the height at 1.15m. I had an early fence down he was keen and I was a little too close to the front rail of an oxer at number 2 and he rubbed it off with a front hoof. He settled into a good rhythm and jumped the remaining ten fences cleanly. As he is naturally quite quick we were the fastest four faults and finished in fourth place on day 1. That evening we took the horses for a walk in hand to let them have some grass as they miss their turnout when stabled at shows.
On the second day of the competition, we took the horses for more grass in hand whilst other classes ran all morning. Mouse was jumping the 138cm Grand Prix first, which he had qualified for the previous day. She jumped a faultless clear around the 90cm first round. In the jump-off she had quite an early draw and set a fantastic time which was proven difficult to catch and jump clear. One other pony managed to jump a clear round less than one-tenth of a second quicker pushing Mouse into second place. This pony was ridden by a good friend of mine, the first three ponies all won championship rugs anyway, so I didn’t mind being beaten!
Mouse then had some time to rest and eat back at the stables, it was now time to quickly get Hector ready for the COH Grand Prix Qualifier. We had a much quieter time warming up. He was settled and jumped very well, I only made one mistake feeling unconfident of the stride I had, I circled away at one fence and represented him better. Unfortunately, that was four faults for a circle he jumped all the fences clear. This did leave Hector in a good frame of mind for the team competition later as I hadn’t upset him by presenting him to a 1.2m oxer on a “duff” stride.
Next were the classes I’d really been looking forward to, the team competitions. Due to the numbers, the weather, and the ground conditions the organisers decided to run the 138cm team in one ring at the same time as the COH team competition in the other ring. As a rider, I was the only person having to jump in two rings at the same time. They’d made this decision whilst I was jumping Hector, so I missed taking part in the 138 team parade.
First, I had to jump with Mouse, she went clear and the team was very happy because we only needed three clears to win. I then had to leave Mouse with my grandad and run across to the other ring to walk the course for COH team. The team manager said I should jump first so I that I could return to Mouse at the other ring. Hector behaved impeccably, we had missed the team parade which was probably a good idea as he gets so excited. He was the first horse on a course and jumped a fantastic clear round for the team, I jumped off and left Hector with my mam and a packet of polos.
But then my nanna text me saying I had to jump a jump off for the gold medal on Mouse. I rushed down to the other ring as I was second to go. The girl who went before me had a couple of faults, so I knew I had to get a clear, as the team manager asked me to do a fast clear in case it went to time. Mouse did exactly this. The England South team had a couple of fences down, we held our nerve and jumped clear to win! I then got a rug for winning with the team and we did a lap of honour with them on. I ended up sleeping with the rug on that night as my sleeping bag wasn't warm enough.
Luckily the COH team finished the first round on a score of four faults and the South of England team failed to complete with three riders and a jump off was not necessary but I missed the parade because I was jumping Mouse in the other ring, Hector did win another nice rug and a medal. We’d won gold on both teams and celebrated with friends that evening.
On my final day at Netley Hall, I had to jump the 90cm Grand Prix with Mouse. She jumped clear the first round. The jump-off was proving to be a galloping track with only a couple of tight turns. I turned ridiculously tight into a big oxer and Mouse ducked out but spun back around and jumped it. Overall, we had four faults but I still came second!
Most people started to pack up and go home hours before the COH Grand Prix as it the was the last class of the day. There were only four people, including me, still competing. The first two competitors didn't jump a clear round. The course was big and technical, I jumped third and went clear when the fourth rider went in we checked the jump-off course and the fourth rider had a fence and we didn’t need to jump off. Hector won a trophy and another rug, then we went home."
An Interview with Abi - Additional Questions
So, Abi what were your overall results for the day?
Mouse got 1st in the Grand Prix qualifier and came second in the Grand Prix. We then won the 138 team for the north and the children's horse teams too! Hector came 1st in the children's horse competitions too.
What do you Aspire to when it comes to Riding?
I really want to compete at HOYS someday, that would be a dream come true. I've always looked up to Annabell Shields, she is so elegant and she makes it look so easy, I want to be her!
Who's your favourite Horse?
Well, as much as I love Hector, I’d have to say Mouse. She's a great pony and I’ll be very sad when we have to sell her at the end of the year.
What Riding item could you not Live Without?
Hmm... I'd have to say my Brogini Boots, they are so comfortable!