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Will Alex’s successful season take him to the Junior Europeans?

WOW customer, young event rider Alex Norris, is sponsored by WOW retailer Nicola Nicholls. He has competed at the British Pony National Eventing Championships 1*, and has also represented the VWH Pony Club in numerous competitions. This year he qualified for the Pony Club National Championships at open level, and was selected to represent the Pony Club in the Show Jumping team at Gatcombe International Horse Trails. Alex also represented his previous school, Dean Close, in National Schools Equestrian Association completions. This dynamic 16 year old has sent us this season round up – thanks Alex, and many congratulations!

Alex Norris WOW saddles

Alex Norris

“Overall the 2015 event season has been good. Since August I have been placed at every BE event and I have managed to qualify to compete at BE Intermediate level on ‘Minnie Moo’ (more about her later)! The season started in early March with ‘Dassett Two For Joy’ going round Swalcliffe BE100 with a 30 dressage and double clear with a few time faults. He then went on to do two more BE100s at Larkhill and Ascot under Wychwood with clear country rounds both times. Sadly he then had a slight injury to a tendon, so he had a couple of easy months to recover.

‘Little Red Rooster’ had a delayed start due to a bruised foot, but he came out for Larkhill BE100 with a double clear and a 26.5 dressage. We then went out competing at Novice level. At Hambeldon we did a 34 dressage and double clear, but a couple of time faults relegated us to 10th. We then went on to compete at Withington Manor tackling the biggest cross country course to date. We were thrilled to again go double clear only missing the placings due to a few time faults. At Aston Le Walls we did a good dressage of 30 and clear Show Jumping, but sadly we lost our footing going up a hill and had a refusal on the cross country. Our final competition together was a Pony Club event at Hambeldon, where we did a sub 30 dressage and a double clear with only a couple of time faults, giving us our first win. My VWH pony club team also won so it was a fantastic day! Sadly that was our last event together, as Rooster was sold after the event. A huge thank you has to go to Penny Jordan for being a fantastic owner.

With one horse out of action and the other sold, we had more time to work on ‘Frank’, a 5 year old owned by my Aunt, Judith Leggatt. He has been improving massively over the past 6 months. He has done many little outings and he finished the season going to Stonar schools one day event, where he did a good dressage of 35.3%, just tipped one show jump, and flew round the cross country with a great clear. He is really promising for the future. He is currently on an educational trip hunting with his owner.

I was fortunate to pick up a new ride – ‘Minnie Moo’ – who is kindly on loan from Harry Humfrey. She is very experienced having competed at 2* level. Due to being under 17, I had to start at BE100 level and had to go clear 3 times before I could move up to novice. Luckily we managed this in 3 outings. Our first Novice was at Trebrorough Hill where we did a good dressage of 36.5 and a pleasing double clear with only 4.8 time, finishing 6th. We then had Goring Heath Open Novice under 18 which was an extremely competitive section. We did a 39 dressage due to a little tension, however we then did a great double clear within the time. This meant we finished in 9th.

‘Dassett Two for Joy’ was now back up and running after his injury’ and he went out and performed well at Monmouth his first novice. He did a 35 dressage and then a double clear with 6.8 time. We finished in 8th which was really pleasing. He was also selected for the VWH pony club intermediate dressage team where he performed well, even if we were both rather distracted by the blue lights of a fire engine just next to our arena!

‘Minnie Moo’ was in both the pony club open show jumping and eventing teams’ qualifying for the show jumping championships by coming third. However more experience is needed as a partnership at championship level where the atmosphere caused a bit of tension. Our next event with Minnie Moo was at Dauntsey Park. Sadly we had to run HC, but we produced a dressage of 40 and had a double clear within the time so we would of been 9th.

Our Last 2 runs were with both horses, ‘Minnie Moo’ and ‘Dassett Two for Joy’. Both produced good dressage tests at Calmsden but Minnie sadly had a pole down in the Show Jumping. However both went clear X Country, with Minnie going inside the time and Dassett getting 2 .8 time faults. This left Dassett in 10th place.

Our final run of the season was at Broadway. Dassett performed really well and produced a 33.5 which put us in contention. He then sadly had a pole Show Jumping but did a super clear with only 1.2 time. Minnie did one of her best tests to date and got a 38.3. She then did a great double clear with only 0.4 time. This meant that both horses finished exactly on the same score. They were placed 6th and 7th with Minnie Moo Just beating Dassett as she was closer to the optimum time. A fantastic end of season finish!

A huge thank you goes to my owners – Nicki Spencer, Carole Bishop, Judith Leggatt and Harry Humfrey – and my two wonderful sponsors, Nicola Nicholls for WOW saddles and Mary Lane of Oakfield Saddlery, who have given me a huge amount of help and support all season.

Both horses have had a well deserved rest for a couple of weeks but have now resumed training. A winter of dressage training lies ahead, with hopefully some show jumping practice too. We have booked up some training with Rob Lumb, Spencer Sturmey and Caroline Moore and hope to have a lesson with Jock Padgett who knows Minnie Moo. Next season I hope to move up to BE Intermediate level with the 2 older horses and start eventing seriously on the youngster. My main aim will be to try for the Junior Europeans………… fingers crossed!