In case you didn’t read Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) Equestrian Society’s first blog for us, “getting your horse fix at university”, here’s a quick recap on who they are and what they do!
The LJMU Equestrian Society compete within the British University & Colleges Sport (BUCs) and also host lessons for those wanting to ride for fun. They have four competitive teams, three within BUCs and a development team in a friendly league. All teams compete four times a year with one of those times being at ‘home’ (where they train on a weekly basis). On Wednesday the 21st of February, their B team (trophy league) hosted their home competition and we asked Vicky Burns, the society’s Social Media Secretary to write a diary of the day so that anyone interested in joining a university equestrian team can find out more about what’s involved...
With all horse events preparation is key and this is true within university competitions too. It starts the day before with food prep! Food is a big part of these competitions (students wanting food- shock) and as we were the hosts we had to provide the refreshments.
On the day it’s a very early start as in order to get to the yard (which is forty minutes away from the centre of Liverpool) have time to plait, tack clean and generally organise everything, we need to leave early.
We start by get our four dressage horses ready, this includes general grooming, picking out feet, getting rid of stable stains and plaiting.
The end of this usually coincides with all the other teams arriving and then the draw begins. The teams pick out a number that decides the team order (when each member will ride), they then pick out a letter (A-D) that designates them to a dressage horse. In all the competitions the horses are shown off in a demo- this gives the visiting teams a chance to see the horse they are about to ride being ridden by people who know them. It also gives the judge a chance to get familiar with the horses too. For team LJMU it’s a great chance to see one of our dressage horses (Dallas) showing off and doing flying changes, a piaffe or two and passage around the arena (not that we need this to do a prelim level test but always nice to watch).
Then the tests start. The first four riders have ten minutes each to warm up with all the other riders having seven. The warm up arena is manned by one of our members who tells each rider when they can start, when to stop and when they can go over to the dressage arena- these competitions couldn’t run without the helpers from the society.
This is Katie about to go in for her dressage test on the lovely Ziggy. And Ellie on Jaffa just after hers.
After all the tests have been completed the scores are added up so the teams know where they stand going into the jumping. The best dressage score on each horse equates to a zero (the lowest score wins) the further away you are from the ‘zero’ score the more penalties you incur. We did well after the dressage with two of our girls scoring zeros- YAY!
The jumping takes place after the lunch break- another draw is carried out to allocate the horses and determine the order of running. We then had the demos for the jumping horses which includes each horse jumping the whole course. This helps the horses as they get to see all the colourful poles that they don’t get to see that often and obviously the other competitors get to see the horses before they jump them. I think this is where Taffy’s (our last minute stand in pony) fan club started- but can you blame us, just look at how cute he is.
For the home competitions we design our own courses; the course has to be at least eight jumping efforts with one double, one related distance and one spread. The jumping rounds are judged on style (not just speed- unfortunately, it would definitely be more fun like that). The jumping section goes really quickly as you only have five minutes and four jumps to warm up and then the actual round only lasts about a minute if that, so we got through ours within an hour and a half. This is Katie and me before the jumping round.
And then it was time to add all the scores up and announce the winner. Overall, our team came second with two individual placings (4th and 5th)- YAY!
After a great day of competition we went to say goodbye to our wonderful horses and found that some were more tired than others…
We always have a great time at all of the competitions but especially our home ones as we love Foxes Riding School and all the horses that we get to ride and have the support of our friends from the society.
We hope this has given an insight to how these competitions work and you can see how much fun we have. We would like to finish off by saying thank you to SPILLERS for their continued support throughout the year, and hope our last couple of competitions are as successful as the others.
Thank you for reading,