November started with the celebration of my SIXTEENTH birthday!!!   Whoop Whoop!!!  The excitement kicked off the weekend before with a short break into London, including afternoon tea at Jamie Oliver’s place in Piccadilly on the Saturday (but not before I’d finished training that morning). I also couldn’t resist some equestrian fun with my brother and sister in the evening on Southbank, though I’m not sure my hands and posture were that great and in general I don’t think Aslan needs to worry as my collected marks were much lower than usual!

Carousel Test (excuse my brother’s dab)

There were some horsey presents of course, including some new things for Aslan, but more importantly tickets for the Grand Prix Freestyle at Olympia in December!  I’ve never been to Olympia before so I am super excited and can’t wait for it.

I also had the most amazing surprise that I had been selected as a Brand Ambassador by Equilibrium Products.  Equilibrium has already supported me by providing some fantastic kit and I was even featured in their Winter Catalogue last month. To be selected as their Brand Ambassador is really special, not just for the help I will get with brilliant products for Aslan, but also to be trusted as an Ambassador for such a great brand at my age and stage of development is something I genuinely appreciate.  It was also an absolute surprise as I didn’t know it was happening and found out while checking Facebook for birthday messages before going to school. It was a massive surprise,  so thank you to everyone at Equilibrium and my mum and dad for planning in secrecy!

November has been a busy month in more ways than one and I have had to pace myself a bit.  It was also my mock GCSEs this month with fifteen exams to revise and sit for.  I am really committed to doing well at school, which is helped by my competitive nature!  It’s a tricky balance at times as I also have to take time off for competitions and squad training, but this time it’s actually working out a bit better as the last squad training was during my school half term.

Even while focusing on my exams, I managed to fine the time to start riding my Individual  Championship Test.  It has similar school movements to the Team Test that I started riding earlier in the year, but the combinations are a little trickier.

Having already qualified for the Silver Novice test at the Winter Championships, I had an opportunity to ride the Individual test for the first time at Hartpury on November 18th.  It’s a couple of hours away from us, but a venue I and Aslan like. It has great facilities and you even get to warm up inside, which is a bonus in the winter!   But it was a really really wet miserable day and we were riding late in the afternoon,  so we were tacking up in the dark and the rain which poured down as we arrived.  This competition was with my Dad driving and my sister Grace along to help out. We competed the Team first as a warm up for our first ever Individual Test and it was an interesting experience.  I lost my right stirrup in our first medium which is a bit tricky in rising trot!  I had to ride a 10m volte, a shoulder-in, a three loop serpentine, another medium, another volte and another shoulder-in before I had the chance to fix it during rein back!  Straight sixes for all that then, but we still ended up with a 63.25% and second place which in the circumstances I was very happy with.  Our first Individual Test an hour later wasn’t as good, with just 60.0% after hanging around in the damp and cold.  To be honest I was a little bit surprised, as at least I had both stirrups all the way through!  Here are the tests, you can make up your own minds!

Just one training session during the week with my coach Sacha, and a quick run though of our test on the Saturday and then the following Sunday we were off to Wellington Riding School for another Winter qualifier and a second crack at the Individual test.  I hadn’t competed in a BD Para class at Wellington before and hadn’t actually been there since I qualified for the RDA Nationals before winning back 2013.  That’s a while ago now, and a lot has happened in between, and I really hope Wellington put on more Para competitions next year as its a great venue and not very far away for us.  They also have a new outdoor school which is really fantastic, and in some ways it felt like the biggest show I have competed at as there was able bodied classes running in parallel with the paras, so the lorry park was full and the warm up arena busy with combinations of different grades and abilities.  There was lots going on and it was also a beautiful sunny day so the whole place looked spectacular and it was a great day out altogether.

Warm Up at Wellington

We had a decent warm up in a pretty busy school as you can see of both able and para combinations.  I think Aslan enjoyed the company and took it all in his stride!  We competed inside and gained 66.63% and a first place red rosette in the Team Test, and followed it up with 65.73% and third place in the Individual Championship Test, earning 3 gold qualifying points in the process! Only our second time out for the Individual so we are very satisfied with a pretty decent score and a decent PB that might just stand for a while. So a definite improvement on our expedition to Hartpury but plenty to continue working on over the winter at home.

To round off the month I had the good news that I had been nominated again by the British Equestrian Federation for SportsAid sponsorship.  I was fortunate to be supported by SportsAid and corporate Sponsor Royal Bank of Canada for 2016/2017 and I really appreciate the opportunities they gave me, as well as the funding they provided.  So I submitted my application and have my fingers crossed that I will be supported again in 2017/18.

That’s it for this month, one more Winter Qualifier to come in December in a Pick Your Own Test at Sparsholt College in Winchester then a bit of a wind down for both Aslan and me towards Christmas, and time to take stock on what we have achieved this year.

Thats it and thanks for reading this month, and please do sign up if you enjoyed catching up and find myFacebook page and Twitter stream @ILSEDRESSAGE.

Ilse x


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