Members of the Pocklington School Equestrian Team recently represented East Yorkshire in the National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) National County Championships. Here, Clare Bracken, Deputy Head and teacher I/C Equestrian at Pocklington School, gives an account of the riders' competition weekend:
'Emily Jones, Noah Marsh, Daisy Shepherd, Polly Raper and Poppy Shepherd were our five riders representing East Yorkshire at the NSEA National County Championships for the fourth consecutive year. To compete at this event you first have to qualify as the best team in your county and thus, once at the competition, you are competing against the top riders from many counties within England and Wales.
Day 1: The first class, a show jumping warm up round, allows the riders and ponies to become accustomed to the surroundings. This, for us, was particularly important as Tommy, Polly’s pony is renowned for his dislike of fillers and the more he could see the better!! All went well and the team were ready for the main competition the next day.
Day 2: It was an early start as we were the second team into the arena at 8.30am. Initially, we thought that being one of the first teams was a disadvantage, as you don’t have the opportunity to see how the course rides and which shortcuts work in the timed section. In true Pocklington spirit we decided it should be seen as a positive; we had a relaxed warm up arena to ourselves and we made the decision to go for clear rounds and just enjoy the whole experience.
All riders went clear in the first round and moods were buoyant! The next round, clearly the ‘discriminator’ was a ‘step up’ technically and tested all ponies and riders. Polly was our only double clear, with Noah and Emily closely behind on four faults
With a final team total of 8 faults and many teams still to compete, we thought we were out of the placings. Imagine our surprise when we learned (as we were busily preparing for the 80cm class) that we had been placed 6th. Unfortunately, we missed the presentation and the opportunity to receive the coveted NSEA bucket in person - such a shame!
In the 80cm competition, the team did not fare as well outside; only Daisy managed to go clear. At this stage mothers, and I alike, became slightly nervous at the thought of what would await the riders inside when faced with the notoriously imposing fences and spreads. The team, however, remained unfazed and all mastered the course with ease. Emily and Polly both went clear, Daisy and Noah were unlucky to have a pole.
With a total of 20 faults overall, we were again pleasantly surprised to learn that we had come 15th out of 29 qualifying teams – exactly half way! Emily, who had also qualified individually, came 10th out of 28 riders – a huge achievement given her age in comparison to the other competitors.
Dressage -Days 3 and 4:
Dressage is a relatively new discipline for three out of our four team members; Poppy, now replacing sister Daisy, being our most experienced rider.
The team all performed above their expectation in the warm up class with Polly coming joint first on 75 percent, closely followed by Poppy and Emily’s in the high sixties! At this stage, we didn’t let ourselves get over-excited because we thought that the tests had been favourably marked and that the ‘pure’ dressage riders hadn’t shown their faces yet. Our hunch was proved correct the next day, when the team were surrounded by really ‘smart’ dressage horses. However, they all stayed calm and executed good solid tests; we were so proud of them. Although we weren’t placed, we all concluded that the discipline of dressage has improved everyone’s riding and has made the horses more balanced when jumping; dressage will remain on our agenda!
As the four days of competition drew to a close, we reflected on how Equestrian at Pocklington is at an exciting stage. This was our most successful National competition to date and with many new and young riders, plus the older team members now on new horses, there is much potential to realise in the future.