2017 National Championships – by Bev Abbott

Welcome to Wet and Windy Wales
A CTG member’s experience of the GB Championships.

This was my second ever TREC GB Championships and I would be competing in the Level 3 Pairs class with Helen Martin. What had I let myself in for……
This was going to be a difficult event for me over the weekend, not only as I was competing at Level 3 but it would be my last TREC competition on my little Arab Sazi (Sahara Bey). Our loan agreement had come to an end. However I was determined to enjoy myself despite the situation… and the weather!

We arrived at Spring Hill Farm Riding Stables, Salattyn Oswestry in the dry on Friday afternoon. We were advised on arrival that the gateway could get very muddy so to avoid the left hand side on entry through the gate. This proved to be very problematic with more rain; the gateway became a mud bath! The land owner, Steve did an amazing job of pulling vehicles out the mud. This included pulling Helen’s vehicle and caravan through the gateway at 22:00 that evening.

After a wet and windy night in a tent and not much sleep, we faced the POR. Despite the lack of sleep I was really looking forward to my ride. We started with a strong bearings section which can present itself with a number of challenges: nerves not acclimatised to the way of going and ‘getting your eye in’ and fresh fit horses. I have to confess I did have to rely on Helen for our distances as my rather fit Arab cantered most of it… sideways!

We settled well into our map reading as we progressed on our POR ride and then it rained…. Again!
We did start to question why we were doing this! As the day went on the weather improved and the riding was fabulous. It was an incredibly tough POR with lots and lots of gates! We were very impressed that we managed to do all the gates bar one from horse back and some were not easy! The terrain was testing for the horses with varying gradients and step slated tracks and low branches.
However we reached the end in the right place with smiles all round. I could not be more proud of my little Arab and I felt he was rather pleased with himself too. It was a great feeling and answered our earlier questions. Lots and lots of hugs and carrots were supplied to the super ponies.

The evening did stay dry enough for us to sit outside the barn for the meal and social, as it became rather cosy inside. We all enjoyed a pig roast including the dog! We stayed until the end taking part in the quiz and catching up with other Teccies and their explorations that day.

Day 2 started with yet more rain! The PTV course had some challenging questions with an up to height path crossing, a very wet and muddy ditch filled with water, a gate that you had to open against the wind and a log which you had to jump within a narrow section of it. We questioned ourselves again why we were doing this, Helen exclaimed she wasn’t certain and we were paying £100 for the privilege! In our warm up to prevent the horses getting cold we walked side by side. I think we could have won a Par de Deux with our synchronised pirouettes as the horses tried their best to shelter from the cold driving rain.

We decided as a team strategy I would go first, my boy however was not on the job and made a bit of a shambles of the first few obstacles. However after a good canter he switched on to be the phenomenal TREC pony he is. We gained maximum points in our immobility, the narrow log, the water crossing and the ride down. We unfortunately gained 11 sec time penalty but I took my time as the ground was incredibly boggy in places, I even opted out of jumping the water filled ditch. I think I may have ended up in it!

Helen and Willow had a fabulous round, scoring maximum points on eight of the obstacles including the path crossing, the gate and the narrow log! Super super proud of my little Arab and our team – huge smile across my face said it all. The sun even tried to break through as we ended our PTV rounds.

What a fabulous weekend and it wasn’t over yet!

We arrived back to the corralling field and sorted our fabulous horses with warm rugs and a fresh strip of grass to their corral. We went back to our tent and by this time the weather had turned again! Luckily my other half had started to pack away the inside so Helen and I packed the tent down in record speed to prevent the tent and its contents from flying across the welsh countryside!

The next challenge: Getting off the event field. The gateway was now completely trashed; the advantage was that it was downhill to the gateway, however people in horse boxes and trailers were getting stuck! We decided our best hope of getting off the field without assistance from the tractor was tow without the horses and then to load on the tarmacked road. I suggested my other half to do this as he is definitely much better at this sort of thing. He cruised out of the mud bath with ease… Ollie even got compliments from others that were stuck in the mud awaiting their turn to be hauled out.

We hit the road early as we were taking the horses home, leaving Helen to collect any prizes. We claimed 4th prize in the Level 3 Pairs and secured our entry for next year’s competition.

After a long weekend it was time to leave wet and windy Wales behind and as the tractor continued to pull vehicles through the muddy gate way it was the turn of Beastie, Helen’s Landrover. Helen saw a gap through the stranded vehicles and at an opportune moment committed to making an exit. Beastie sailed past the stranded vehicles and made it out in one go. Rather proud and smug of overcoming all the challenges that Wales and TREC GB had presented us with over the weekend certainly made the whole thing worthwhile!

Here’s to 2018; new challenges and a new horse!

Full results from the National Championships can be found here.