ACG Strathallan's equestrians are making the most of the shortened competition season after enjoying a hugely successful dressage event in Cambridge.
The Strathallan Stars and the Strathallan Strikers recently represented the school at the North Island Interschool Dressage Championships, achieving some stellar results. The Strathallan Stars (featuring Xanthe Field, Lily Biggs, Aimee Chave and Lexi Hope) took first place in the Development section and came away with a string of individual placings.
Meanwhile, the Strathallan Strikers (with Natalie Schilder, Alexia Thomas, Samantha Jones and Lexi Hope) placed third in the Open category, an outstanding accomplishment given that they were one rider down due to a lame pony.
Lexi Hope (14) excelled in all her events. Riding Wonda Why for the Strathallan Stars team, she earned two first placings and won the title of Grand Champion Preliminary Development horse. Then competing on Ramsbury for the Strathallan Strikers, she added another two second placings to her impressive ribbon tally. We spoke to Lexi about the competition and her love of all things equestrian.
Lexi, how long have you been riding?
I've been riding my entire life and competing since I was four. I started off doing showing (showing off your horse on the flat in a range of classes, such as best rider and best paces), but now I do dressage full time. As well as representing ACG Strathallan, I've been part of the Auckland team at multiple national championships, and I'm also a member of Waiau Pa Pony Club.
Tell us more about dressage.
Dressage is kind of like dancing with a horse! Each test contains a series of movements that must be completed in a particular order. Then each movement is marked out of 10. It's considered to be the hardest equestrian discipline of all and ranges from Introductory (level 0) to Grand Prix (level 9). There are also different categories – for example, the Open class is for more experienced dressage riders, and the Development section is for everyone who just wants to give it a go, even if dressage isn't their main discipline.
What were your competition highlights?
Winning the title of Grand Champion Preliminary Development horse on Wonda Why was a huge surprise. It was also nice to step up a level on Ramsbury as we're a very new combination. I enjoyed seeing everyone giving it their best shot, supporting each other and having fun – the first half of the season was cancelled, so it was amazing just being able to get out to a show! It was held at St Peter's in Cambridge, and everyone there was so lovely and supportive. It was just a really enjoyable, stress-free day.
How challenging is it to juggle your equestrian commitments with your studies?
Life can get pretty busy because, as well as working multiple horses a day, I coach and also run a business making labels for horse stables, tack rooms and halters. But my school work will always come first.
After starting the equestrian season off so successfully, what are you aiming for next?
My goals for the rest of the season are to get out to as many shows as possible and have fun with my horses. I'd love to step both of my main horses up a level by the end of the season.
We've included a table of Strathallan's results below. Can you explain what the scores mean?
The scores consist of a letter and a number, such as 0B or 1A. The number relates to the level itself (for example, 0 is Introductory, 1 is Preliminary, etc.), while the letter indicates the degree of difficulty within that level (A being the simplest and D the most technical).
|RIDER & HORSE||RESULT|
|Strathallan Stars||Team placed 1st overall in the Development Section|
|Lexi Hope on Wonda Why||1st 1A, 1st 1B Development Hack, Grand Champion Preliminary Development Horse|
|Lily Biggs on Windermere Keepin Secrets||2nd 0B, 3rd 1A Development Pony|
|Xanthe Field on Griffin Valley||3rd 0B, 12th 1A Development Pony|
|Aimee Chave on Tailormade||8th 1A, 7th 1B Development Pony|
|Strathallan Strikers||Team placed 3rd overall in the Open Section|
|Lexi Hope on Ramsbury||2nd 3A, 2nd 4C Open Hack|
|Samantha Jones on BBS Davinci||2nd 1D, 2nd 2A Open Hack|
|Alexia Thomas on Merivale Park||3rd 2A, 3rd 1D Open Pony|
|Natalie Schilder on Alpine Park Watercolour||Unfortunately, Natalie's pony went lame, so she was unable to compete|