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Sponsored Rider Update – Sarah Gadd

Richard Martin

The latest update from sponsored rider Sarah Gadd of SG Eventing! (I’d grab a biscuit and a cuppa for this one, it’s a long but great read!!)

“With a relatively early start I got Roxie and Milli schooled, the yard all sorted, fields cleared, Diaz bathed and plaited, the lorry loaded and off to Munstead BE Horse Trials we went! The weather was lovely and after the journey taking us longer than expected due to traffic and road closures we arrived safely, unloaded the horses and set of to walk the XC. This was Diaz’s first run around an affiliated 90cm track and after her super run around the unaffiliated 90cm track at Chilham I was sure she was ready for it!

Dressage was first and she started warming up brilliantly doing some lovely trot and canter work! She did unfortunately begin to get a bit tense before we went in which reflected in our test and mark which I think was due to the SJ arena being so close and also lorries and trailers going past close to the dressage arenas. Despite slight tension we scored a respectable 38.5 for our test.

With our times being at the end of the day we had very little time to do much in between other than change tack and clothes so before we knew it we were changed and in the SJ warm up which Diaz found very exciting – change of seasons and all that, I think she is feeling very well. After a warm up we went in and started our round. Due to it being later on in the day there were some patches of shade as one side of the arena had trees near by, on the approach to fence 3 I came around the corner in the shade and then there were two strides in the sunshine before the fence. The fence was bright white poles with very spooky wall illusion fillers underneath and it took Diaz by surprise causing a run out! I think it was because of dark into light and her eyes didn’t adjust in time and it just caught her off guard, bless her! On second approach she flew straight over it and finished the rest of the round beautifully. I cut the corners a bit after this but we still picked up 3 time faults unfortunately.

Putting this behind us we had a quick change of tack and got ready for our XC. I was keen to get out there and see how she responded to it as there was plenty of questions being asked of her with skinny angled fences, angled palisades, coffin combination, an owl hole and a big trakehner with an angled pole across the top! Considering the majority of the fences were also in the BE100 Diaz made it feel like a complete walk in the park and she flew around clear! When we jumped the owl hole I had a little chuckle to myself as she hesitated slightly on approach as the ‘hole’ through was very small and considering she has never been asked to jump a fence like this yet I was chuffed she took it all in her stride, on take off she poked her nose out as far as possible, taking the streamline approach through with her ears flat back….bless her!

I was even more pleased when I found out that we were 20 seconds inside the time XC and considering I didn’t push her that much for speed she is definitely learning how to open up her stride when running across the country which is great news! On looking at the score boards later on I was very pleased with how she had gone finishing in 11th place even if finishing that close to the placing’s can be a little frustrating I came away chuffed with the day and it was another confidence building run under our belts and she is continuing to learn more and more each time out which is what is most important! My sister Sophie did very well on mum’s ‘big’ Milli picking up a 8th placing in the same section!


With a not so early start the following day the horses were all put out in the field for a bit of a leg stretch whilst we did the yard, cleaned and unloaded the lorry and trailer from our trip to Munstead and started to get everything ready for our next competition. We didn’t have so far to travel for this competition which is always a bonus, just 15 minutes!! It was Shotfield Farm Equestrian Dressage championship show, they have had a series running through out the summer and after only going to two shows due to eventing commitments I was lucky enough to have qualified both Roxie and Milli for the Novice and Elementary Championships.

We had four horses from the Team Gadd / SG Eventing yard there and the day got of to a great start with Adele Kleeman, a friend of my sisters who has been helping us on the yard a riding Todd a bit. They finished in 3rd place in the walk and trot championships! Sophie then did a great dressage test in the second Prelim championships to score 70+% and won the class! Next was The Roma Hollingworth Novice Dressage Championships and Milli and I were first in. The prize giving for the prelim championships had got her a bit excited as they all did a lap of honour in the main arena to music but I used this to my advantage and managed to get some lovely work out of her! Milli was excited to be back out after having a bit of time off so called to other horses once and put in the odd little buck of excitement which made us loose some marks, we still managed to score 71% which I was very pleased with and this resulted in a 4th placing! Next up in the Novice was Sophie and ‘big’ Milli and they did a lovely test to finish in 5th place!

Last to go in the Novice was Roxie and she warmed up brilliantly but she has done this many times before and then turned into a tense over excitable TB in the actual arena. I was trotting around before my test waiting for the bell and she was still remaining nice and chilled and she went on to perform an absolutely stunning test remaining calm throughout! The walk at the end of the test was a big question for Roxie as she is prone to a small jog as I pick up the reins after a free walk and we had to walk up the centre line to finish but she didn’t jog once!! As I left the arena the judge got out of her box and commented on how elegant and beautifully ridden our test was!

As there was mounted prize giving’s after each test I stayed on as I knew Milli was placed and had hoped that Roxie would have got in the placing’s as it felt like she did a super test. They announced over the tannoy who needed to be on for the mounted prize giving as I was called on both horses which I was pleased with and even more pleased when I was approached and asked to dismount so they could put the rug on Roxie and I was given a sash…..Yes we had won!!!!! We scored a whopping 78.1% which is by far the beast score Roxie has ever achieved with mainly 8’s down her sheet!! There were a few tears from me and mum when we found out how well Roxie had done, especially when we both thought back to how we so nearly lost her 18 months ago and how hard she has fought despite the odds to still be here today let alone be back out competing and doing what she loves best!! Roxie loved being centre stage and posed for lots of pictures during the prize giving and for the lap of honour she didn’t want to canter she wanted to show off her medium / extended trot!!

After all this excitement I was first in the Elementary Championships on Roxie who had gotten a little bit tense but after a while in the warm up she calmed down a bit a performed a nice test, Roxie always performs better when there is more asked of her so this test really suited her. Unfortunately we lost 6 marks as I went wrong twice, well didn’t really go wrong – I had learnt E49 from 2002 and not the one from 2009 which has two additional movements in it…..note for next time – always check I’m learning the correct year for the test!!! I was so annoyed as I later found out, when we finished in 3rd on 68% that losing those 6 marks cost us the win!!

Milli was last to go in the E49 and after my mistakes in the first class someone very kindly called the test for me! Milli performed a lovely test and it really feels like her medium trots are starting to come along nicely now which is great as she has always struggled with this, bless her! Plus I was very pleased that she didn’t offer me a flying change in the counter canter which she tends to be cheeky and do. I was called on both horses for the mounted prize giving for this class and knew Roxie had finished 3rd but was unsure where Milli had finished. Milli and I had finished in 2nd place with a score of 69% just 1% of winning which I was very pleased with. For the Elementary prize giving Milli found it all very exciting doing the lap of honour to music! We were then called to a final prize giving for the points championship and I got 5th place….not bad considering I’ve only been to 3 of the 6 of the competitions! Roxie has been on MoveFree Professional for just over a week now and I’m sure I can already feel a difference in her, she certainly did a very good attempt of the TB version of Valegro on Sunday!”

2015-09-20 21.41.05               2015-09-20 21.55.47


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