I was full of optimism for our trip to the SW Winter Regionals. Ronald had finally learnt to do a half-decent medium trot and we’d scored 70% in our last BD outingThe preparation was difficult due to the high winds and storms but we battled on and rode when it was safe (sometimes it really wasn’t possible to take the horses out of their stables). We went to the Grange Equestrian Centre a few days before our trip up to have a last run through of our tests and freestyles with the help of David Reddan. The horses were so well behaved with all the banging and crashing going on outside. I thought to myself ‘a couple of judges tables in the arena next week can’t possibly be as scary as this!’ My mistake! I couldn’t have been more pleased with the warm-up, soft relaxed, focused… Then we went indoors. The atmosphere at Regionals can be a bit much and Ronald is never great indoors. He rushed through his Elementary music (which was apparently a little too modern for the judges tastes) and was tense but I was hopeful for the following day. For our Novice test we were outdoors. Again Ronald warmed up superbly. I never allow myself to get excited about our chances but he really was on form and I was sure we’d make the top ten, hopefully top three. Alas it wasn’t meant to be, he didn’t cope with the arena being right next to the warm up and didn’t want to leave the other horses. In the test itself he was so wired I just couldn’t ride him. When I asked for canter he squealed at me! Interestingly the judges were very split. Two gave us a good mark but one really didn’t like anything she saw. I’ve put it down to just being ‘one of those days’ as I know we’d prepared as well we could. Onward and upward for the Summer Regionals, held at a venue Ronald likes. We went out last weekend and came away with over 70% in another Elementary. As we’re now all qualified I’ve pencilled in our first Medium for the end of March. I’m not expecting us to set the world alight but it’s so exciting as I never thought my funny little racehorse would ever get this far. From now on everything really is a bonus! I was also pleasantly surprised to open up BD magazine this week and see Ronald looking back at me.” Rowan Van Houben
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