Heroic Hobby Horses & Riders Raise Funds for NHS

Heroic Hobby Horses & Riders Raise Funds for NHS
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Heroic Hobby Horses & Riders Raise Funds for NHS

Dressage Anywhere last month announced plans for two unusual activities that would help raise funds for the NHS, at the same time as encouraging the equestrian community to come together and have a little fun.

An online auction was first on the agenda, where Valegro II was used to raise the initial funds to help support the NHS. Further donations were encouraged, alongside competition entry fees collected for the impressive, yet dramatic Hobby Horse competition that was soon to follow.

Valegro II Auction

Valegro II looks just like his big brother, as seen pictured here with dressage gold medalists, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester to help launch the initiative. However similar the horses’ heads seem, the difference between the two came in the form of body, and legs, with Valegro II boasting a slimmer physique with only one (wooden) leg.

Dressage Anywhere has now announced Valegro II has found a new home after being sold to the highest bidder during the online auction. His new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, trotted off with the one-legged brother to Valegro after her final bid of £2,000.

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Valegro II Headshot
Valegro II – headshot

His new owner, a keen dressage fan, started riding in her late thirties and has since enjoyed watching Charlotte Dujardin and the hobby horse’s brother Valegro on TV, and at events such as Olympia. Valegro II will be joining his new owner’s other horse, who is currently working towards medium level at home. His new owner commented;

Horses have changed my life. I have a spare stable and lots of grass so I felt this might be my chance to compete in tails before I hit 50 this year”

Hobby Horse Online Dressage Competition

Dressage Anywhere closed their online competition series earlier in April due to the government’s restrictions, which in turn helped minimise the potential for injuries to riders when competing or training at home.

Nereide Goodman, and business partner Ruth Chappell, were keen to lift spirits and have a little fun, so came up with the idea of a hobby horse competition. As the equestrian community paused for a moment to understand the task that lay ahead, it slowly sunk in that Nereide and Ruth planned to judge a riders ability to train and compete a one-legged horse made of wood and stuffing.

Ruth Chappell said:

At first I thought Nereide had lost the plot but thinking about it further we thought the idea might have legs or in this case a leg’. We start giggling about all the things we could do, the tests we could run and the judges we could enlist and that sets the tone of the competition.

We had a platform in place to run it all online, so Ride a Hobby Horse for the NHS was launched. We are absolutely thrilled and grateful that so many from the equestrian world entered into the spirit of the event as well as contributing another £2,000 to charity”.

Classes ranged from Grand Prix to Pony Club tests with an RDA section judged by Natasha Baker. Judges were on hand to help with the complicated task of critiquing movements such as pirouettes and half pass.

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Despite the one-legged hobby horse replacing a horse with four legs, judging was tough and guidelines strictly adhered to.

1st Grand Prix  – Judge, Stephen Clark – winner

Judge Stephen Clark marked 51 tests before running out of energy. Comments were consistent with a poor choice in chocolate before starting. Comments such as ‘wooden movement’ and ‘grounded paces’ were added to score sheets despite many high marks being awarded during the competition.

2nd Grand Prix – Judge, Isobel Wessels – winner Holly riding Penelope Pitstop 

Isobel said

Holly set it all up as though she was riding a proper Grand Prix. The positioning was good throughout, the transitions precise and balanced and the paces light footed. Even the background music was perfect and actually I felt a little mean taking 8.01 marks away”.

Freestyle – Judge, Jennie Loriston-Clarke – winner Alice Oppenheimer

Jennie Loriston-Clarke spoke of the fun she had watching, and marking the tests:

So much effort had been put into the outfits and into the music. However, some marks were lost in the lack of accuracy and in the choreography. Some pirouettes for example, were only shown one way and some of those were on the wrong leg with no bend”.

Novice – Judge, Sarah-Jane Lanning – winner Aderyn Walker

Despite winner Aderyn Walker being thrilled with her victory, she did complain of woodworm, and the likes afterwards. Judge Sarah-Jane commented:

It was wonderful, so many people in a huge range of ages got involved. Lots of energy and work went into the tests, and some added great commentary. It was just as much fun to judge as well as take part”.

Sara-Jane Lanning
Sara-Jane Lanning

Pony Club Test – Judge, Alice Oppenheimer and Becky Moody – winners Hale Happy Hackers

The homeschooling box was ticked for some entries during the Pony Club competition, as dressage letters were expertly handcrafted. The winners, team Hale Happy Hackers consisted of five-year-old twins Beatrice and Edmund, alongside nine-year-old Toby. An emotional musical was delivered by the children to pay thanks to the NHS for looking after their father.

Isabelle - arena letters
Isabelle – arena letters

RDA competition – Judge, Natasha Baker – winner, Naomi Sutton

RDA completion was impressive, leaving judge Natasha Baker MBE with some tough decisions, with many movements awarded a 10! Naomi Sutton’s horse had a magnificent head, and they produced the best pirouette of the day in a wheelchair, receiving comments such as – ‘very tight and keeping the balance’.

Following the government guidelines published on the 13/05/2020, Dressage Anywhere has announced their monthly competitions are to resume. Tests ranging from Intro to Advanced will continue as the usual format, with the team hopeful for more detailed feedback from judges as their less stringent rota persists due to lockdown rules.

Although the Hobby Horse competition has finished, you can still watch all the fun on the scoreboard: https://www.dressageanywhere.com/Home/Results and our highlights video: https://youtu.be/0IzW_XT2DQc. And if you enjoy them, please consider leaving a small donation on our fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/dressageanywherehobbyhorse.

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email: contact@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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