The morning of the 15th of March saw an early start for the second and third equestrian teams. Heading to Leicestershire they looked to continue their strong form throughout the year – including regionals qualification for the 2nds and a big BUCS win for the 3rds against 2nds teams. With horses plaited and stocks tied the seconds kicked off the dressage phase with strong performances all round. Georgia (Pembroke) worked hard to tease an active test out of a sluggish horse and Hattie (Pembroke) rode very tactfully to keep her contrary horse on side with both gaining zero penalties. Rosie (Newnham) rode a lovely accurate test gainin g only a few penalties against a strong rider, Emily (Emmanuel) also rode tactfully following unfortunate disturbances in her test (thanks to a rubbish truck), gaining only a couple of penalties. The end of the dressage saw the 2nds 19 penalties ahead of Oxford, a solid lead but with all to play for in the jumping.
Next up was the 3rds turn to take to the arena with Opp (Murray Edwards), Georgie (Clare) and Annabelle (St Johns) all finishing on zero penalties with fluid and accurate tests, an impressive feat considering the horses were all somewhat running out of steam by this point! In classic fashion Caitlin (Girton), the smallest member of the team drew a huge, powerful horse, yet she really showed that skill takes precedence over strength riding a lovely test to finish on very few penalties. The thirds dressage was hotly contested, with only 2 penalties separating Oxford and Cambridge the fight was really on heading into the jumping phase.
Following the expert guidance of first team member Clark Glasgow (Hughes Hall) both teams walked the course which would prove to be challenging with a variety of abilities of horses. First up were the seconds with Georgia drawing a horse who didn’t appear to be built for the jumping ring but whom she guided round impressively to produce a great score and only gaining 2 penalties. Hattie and Rosie both rode textbook rounds to finish on zero penalties. Finally, Emily, the tallest member of the team drew a small pony who was surprisingly springy and completed the course with ease just gaining a few penalties against strong competition. The thirds showed a similarly close competition with Caitlin and Annabelle riding impeccably to finish on zero penalties on a sluggish and skittish horse respectively. Opp and Georgie also rode lovely rounds to finish on just a few penalties each. As predicted it was all to play for with tension rising heading into the results.
Training hard through term showed huge improvements in both teams and resulted in big performances all round. The seconds beats Oxford convincingly by 19 penalties and there was an individual 2,3,4 for Hattie, Georgia and Rosie. The thirds match was a battle to the very end with Cambridge winning by 4 penalties and continuing the winning streak with a win for Annabelle and 5th and 6th for Opp and Caitlin. The competition couldn’t have happened without the wonderful staff and horses from Witham Villa and of course our ever-supportive first team members who plaited up, showed the horses and coached us through the warm ups (we really couldn’t have done it without you!). We now turn our attention to the firsts whose varsity match this year is held at Royal Windsor Horse Show and is sure to be spectacular – and hopefully successful!