Starting Arena TREC with Wintry Willicote – report by Julie Allman

I’m a TREC Newbie and my horse Maggie is an elderly warmblood.

We went to a couple of TREC training sessions at Seechem Equestrian Centre and thoroughly enjoyed all the different challenges. The school was laid out with a selection of different exercises and we had a chance to try them all out and were given hints and tips on how to score the most points. Maggie was surprisingly good at most of the exercises, although she was in a school that she was familiar with, so very relaxed. I was not quite so efficient. I struggled to keep hold of the roped gate and pulled the gatepost over more than once and had a similar experience with the low branch exercise where I kept knocking the bamboo stick off. However I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and bond-building so I booked into my first competition at a non-familiar environment, Willicote.

It was one of the coldest days of the year and the wind was biting. I had booked into the novice horse section although I could have booked into the novice rider as we were both newbies. I went to check in and went into a lovely warm office and was offered a hot drink. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

It was so cold that I tacked Maggie up in the lorry and kept her on board. There was a chance to walk around all the obstacles beforehand so I had a good look and thought I would remember the course as it seemed quite straightforward! I should have known better!

The warm-up arena was also the control of paces area. The lady that was organising that arena was very helpful in explaining what I needed to do. Unfortunately I took my leg off too soon and we dropped out of canter just before going past the pole. Lesson learnt; I won’t do that again! Then it was into the indoor arena. Again everyone was friendly and welcoming. We got off to a good start but I got my narrow corridor mixed up with my rein-back poles so we lost points there but the scorers were very good at explaining what I’d done and allowed me to finish the course.

Maggie was a very good girl and it was great fun to try things on her where she was slightly outside her comfort zone. The obstacles that I thought we would do best on were not so great in an unfamiliar environment but I loved the whole experience and we both learnt a lot. The weather was the only downer really as it was so cold that no-one was hanging about to chat.

I have now bought a medical armband so I can make a note of the course next time and not trust my menopausal memory!

I shall definitely do more TREC. Everyone is so supportive and it is such a great way to bond with your horse and learn new things together.

Julie Allman