Dominic Wolfendale – My Experience at Hartpury Festival of Dressage


“Having spent the 2 weeks before Hartpury running round like a mad thing trying to get everything ready, finally last Wednesday morning (4th July) we left for Hartpury…in the pouring rain. I was going up to Carl’s for a lesson and staying there over night. My lesson mostly consisted of pirouettes in canter as at the moment they are mine and Laddie’s biggest weakness; Carl was very pleased with my progress and said Laddie was looking amazing.  On the Thursday morning I went for a hack from Carl’s with Fiona (Carl’s head girl) and then spent the rest of the morning packing up and watching Carl ride and train which is always amazing!

We then left for Hartpury and got checked in by the vets and given our wrist bands to allow us access to the stabling.  The trot up was at 6pm, so I had plenty of time to plait and make Laddie look his usual fabulous self.  He was a little lively in the trot-up as he can be a bit funny with other horses, and there where a lot gathering.  He floated through the trot-up and turned a few heads in the process.  I knew he would pass but it was still quite nerve racking, just in case he trod on a stone just before he went in or something!

I was drawn 3rd last to go in the PSG which was great; however, we woke up on Friday morning to torrential rain.  We tacked up and I got on, and got soaked almost straight away, I ignored the weather and got on with the job in hand.  The atmosphere in the main arena was amazing; so many people had turned up even in the rain. Laddie was nicely on his toes in the test and felt fantastic, apart form a slight pilot error in the 4’s it was a clean mistake free test, I got 66.5% which was good enough for 10th place!  I was thrilled to be in the line up in my first International, upon closer inspection of my sheets one judge had me on 70.5% which was amazing given the level of judges that are at an International.

The next day dried up a bit, however the CDI classes had been moved indoors.  The main arena at Hartpury is not one of Laddie’s favourites and he was a little hot, we had a few mistakes including a break to canter in the first extension, normally a highlight.  He was a little tense but overall did a good job, we finished on 64%, which I was a little disappointed with, and 16th which put us just outside the music, which only includes the top 15.  However Carl pulled out of the music which meant I got through!  I was really pleased as I really wanted to get through to the music.  After my test Andrew Gardner, who is the chief senior selector, came and found me and said how nicely he and the other judges thought I rode, which was such a lovely thing to hear from such an important person!

The last day arrived and I got on for the last time to do my music.  I did a very easy warm up and almost put Laddie to sleep as he is NOT a fan of music and gets very explosive!  He was so much better than the last time, but still struggled to keep it together a little bit.  I got 65% due to the technical errors, but had +70% artistic marks from most of the judges, which was great.

We finally packed up and headed home from what had been an amazing show.  I had such a good time and cant wait to compete internationally again.  On that note, we are looking into going to France later this year to do an international abroad.  In the mean time Laddie is having a 2 week holiday and will just be hacking out,  just what  my international Dressage super star deserves!”

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