English Team Bring Home Bronze
On Saturday 19 July the English and Welsh teams met near Dover to off load their ponies into the care of Parker?s Transport and repack their luggage, carriages and camping gear between the 4 other lorries which were going to make the 2 day, 700 mile trip to the show ground about 50miles west of Salzburg. Georgie Mathews was a great help through out the planning process with advice about pony transport and she brought out the two English reserves, Harriet Bradford and Amber O?Neil who competed as individuals. The lorries took the 8.00 am ferry to Calais and met again at the overnight stop just south of Frankfurt. We arrived at the show ground about 4pm on Monday afternoon and set about unloading all the ponies and equipment and setting up the camp. Paddy, Alice Stable?s granny brought along 2 big tents which we filled up with an assortment of chairs and together with a hot water urn and a fridge created a brilliant spot for us all to meet up and relax when we had a chance.
Then the rain set in. It was not cold but it was wet and it rained off and on until Friday with some particularly spectacular storms, thunder and lightening and lots of water. The organisers delivered gravel to each camping area so we were able to pave the inside of the meeting tent and make gravel walk ways between the lorries. The ponies were also provided with extra sawdust and straw as some of the stables had a torrent running through them at times.
Sara Howe, our chef d'Equipe had a mammoth task on her hands ? I do not think that any one before has been mad enough to take on the job for 2 teams at once, totalling 15 children. She did a sterling job arranging all the entries and the transport of the ponies before we left. She and Anna White (team vet) travelled out in the transporter and kept Richard the driver entertained.
Tuesday was a rest day of sorts but after Anna Grayston (team trainer) arrived everyone set about their exercise program at the allotted times. The outdoor school was becoming rather boggy and the indoor one was too small for the dressage test so the organisers were anxious.
Wednesday was vetting. The plaiting started in earnest for the week and our teams were complimented for their smart turnout ? humans and ponies. The children were wearing team kit and the ponies had green or blue rugs with the appropriate flags on them. Every one passed vetting without incident ? phew.
On Thursday it was still raining off and on. The outdoor school was becoming unusable and the tracks passable but muddy. The morning was filled by a presentation competition and measuring of carriages. After several meetings it was decided to reschedule classes 2, 3,and 4 to Thursday afternoon in the indoor arena and shrink the dressage test to 30x 60m. Later on the decision was taken that the rest of the classes would also do their test in the smaller arena in order to preserve the outdoor school.
Thursday evening was the prize giving for the presentation competition and nation?s night. This was held in the large bar/ restaurant which was set up in an indoor arena for the duration of the competition. Alice Pritchard (Wales) came first and Rosanna Walters Symons second for England in class 6. Katie Bell and Charlotte Snow came first and second respectively in class 5 for England and Jay Snow (Wales) came third in class 2. His sister Fleur was placed first in Class 3 by one judge but her total score made her joint 6th. A grooming kit was given to the child with the worst presentation score!
For nation?s night the English and Welsh teams shared a table but produced their own foods. The English had bangers and mash, Eaton mess, cheese and biscuits washed down with Pimms. The Hodgson camp did most the catering, Michael leant the art of mixing Pimms and several people helped to dish up. The food disappeared at speed which was very gratifying. The Welsh end of the table also had a large gathering around it consuming lamb stew, welsh cakes, cheeses and Welsh rarebit. When our stock ran low we had a chance to wander round to the other tables to sample lots of foods, yummy biscuits and chocolates from the Swiss, a Belgium version of bangers and mash, and Austrian pancakes. Considering it was a children?s competition there was no shortage of drinks ? beers from Belgium and Germany, potent Schnapps varieties from Hungary and Austria. The French had wine and cheeses on offer and the Danes provided an interesting selection of meats.
Most of Friday the diggers and levellers were out to try and get the outdoor arena into shape for Saturday. Friday saw the rest of the competitors do their dressage indoors. Dressage prize giving was held on Friday evening with England taking a first prize in class 5 with James Gambs driving Linda Hill?s pony Mildrid. In class 6 Mark Bell came first and Rosanna Walters Symons second- so more points for England. In class 4 Amber O?Neill, who competed as an individual came 2nd.. Emily Ham (Wales) was placed first by one of the dressage judges but had an overall placing after the first phase of 6th. Friday evening was Austrian night ? we had pork and dumplings and a three piece band performed a mixture of traditional and modern songs and got some of the audience dancing. Most where wearing substantial shoes/boots because of the wet weather so the movements were less than elegant!
Saturday was marathon day, one fixed obstacle and two temporary indoor type obstacles interspersed with cones, to be driven in a maximum time with the obstacle times clocking up penalties. The pony pairs drove the course first and the surface held up so it was on to the other classes. The Welsh had a bad day with 3 of their competitors eliminated so they no longer had a team but Alice Stables came 4th in class 4 having completed the course clear within the time.
Clare Campbell?s carriage wheel seized up half way through the second obstacle but she managed to complete the course with only 3 wheels turning and with out having any balls down. Once she was out of the ring there was a frantic session of checking brakes only to find 5 of the carriages had worn their brake pads entirely away. Luckily a certain number of spares were produced from various boxes and the wheels were all turning in time for the next competitor. Charlotte Snow drove an accurate round and came 2nd in class 5. In class 6 Harriet Bradford, Mark Bell and Frank Campbell had the best results for England coming 6th,7th and 8th respectively.
Sunday lived up to its name and the sun came out in style. This was cones day and the competition was very intense. In class 6 there were 5 double clears, the fastest time was posted by Mark Bell who won the phase and his class overall. In class 5 there were 8 double clears, Katie Bell came 2nd putting her third overall in her class. In class 4 all our competitors had clear rounds but suffered time penalties so the best result was Michael Hodgson who came 4th in the class, only 0.6 of a second over the time, and 4th overall.
And so shortly after the end of the last class the team winners were announced. Anna White had been doing a terrific job keeping all the scores and adding up the results and she thought we had held our third place but Hungary was hot on our heels. With in half an hour all the prize winners were lined up with their ponies in a baking arena, and the other teams were on foot. There were a fair number of speeches then, plaques and glass trophies were distributed. Every competitor got a commemorative horse shoe and tins of goodies. We learned that in 2010 the Junior World Trophy will be held in Turin, Italy and in Hungary in 2012. So all junior drivers get practicing so we can defend our title!
Apart from packing up on Sunday evening there was a lot of swapping of clothing between the different nations and signing of flags. The social side of this event was great. The children and adults all made new friends who we hope to meet again over the following years.
There is a huge list of people to thank: Baileys Horse Feeds for their support all the way through our training program and for supplying feed to all the ponies and delivering it to Austria Charles Owen for giving their very smart GR8 hats to all the drivers. Sydney Smith and the BHDTA for their support. Sara Howe our chef d'Equipe who kept her sense of humour through it all, although she was heard to threaten a late comer with a firing squad. Anna Grayston our trainer who helped to keep the competitors calm and relaxed and encouraged them to drive their ponies positively. Anna White the team vet, who also was able to supply bites and stings lotion to humans, was a champion at adding up scores and also had her plaiting talents put to use. Maureen Bell for embroidering all the team clothing and who with Nina Snow organised the England team outfits. Alice Pritchard and Emily Ham for getting the Welsh kitted out. David Pritchard for his services as a champion shopper and taxi service for the team. Paddy Marris for her mass catering and the provision of camping equipment. The Hodgson team for nation?s night and daily supply of cakes for the campers. Anna Kimber for www.fairyclan.co.uk keeping those back at home up to date with the progress of the team. The Ham family, David Pritchard and Anna K for photography. The Campbell family for looking after the finances. Last but not least all those who supported our fundraising events and all those who put them selves forward for selection, took part in the training and supported the teams who were eventually selected.
Article by Mary Jane Campbell.