On Saturday 21 October this year’s equestrian team of Jasmine Gutsell, Emma Killin, Isabelle Hoar and Rosie McIntosh competed in the National Schools Equestrian Association Championships. They qualified for this event back in January by seeing off 11 other teams in their regional qualifier, at which Isabelle was also placed as 2nd out of the 77 competitors. Both of these results are huge achievements for our school and for the girls.
The day saw an early start for the girls as there is a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready to compete in any equestrian event. The team was one of the last to jump in their competition at 11:00 am but before that the horses need to be fed and cleaned so they are gleaming, as does the tack and the kit that is worn by horse and rider. The team had an hour’s drive to the venue and that is after they have driven to the yard where their horse or pony is kept. This gives the girls and their families at least 5 hours of work before they’ve even got to the competition!
It was a pretty miserable day for the event and tensions were high as people have travelled from all over the country to complete at the National Championships – we are lucky that the venue is relatively close to us. Many people travel down the day before and stay over at the venue in their horse boxes, with horses getting a stable at the event. The competition involves each member of the team jumping a course of fences. They incur penalties if they knock any of the jumps down, if the horse stops at the fence or runs past it. The aim therefore, is to jump ‘clear’ which means without any faults.
Jasmine, Isabelle, Emma and Rosie were, as always, immaculately turned out and really focused on doing the best that they could. The girls are brilliant at giving each other encouragement and keeping each other calm. All four jumped clear rounds, which only 11 out of 43 teams could manage. 8 teams then qualify to go through to the second round and this is decided by working out the 3 fastest clear rounds in a team and adding the times together. Tring was less than 9 seconds behind the team that won and less than 1 second away from qualifying for the final round. This shows you how competitive this sport is at this level.