Today I went to day one of the National Dressage Championships. Despite the wet and very windy weather, it was a great day out.
I’ve been a few times now and nothing quite prepares you for being within a few feet of some of the best riders in the country doing their thing. And with wall to wall competition, it’s hard to find time to shop (and you’ve got to do some shopping!).
It’s a great place to see up and coming dressage riders, as well as established athletes. What’s strange is seeing them standing in line for a cup of tea or coffee, or sat devouring a crepe. The free seating outside puts you close to the edge of the arenas, the covered grand stand is a bit further away but nonetheless, gives a great view.
I was meeting my aunt there and anticipated grabbing a drink and chatting in the free sears but she’s a member and on top of that, knows the lovely people from the Woodlander Stud. So, to cut a longer story short, I found myself in one of the hospitality boxes.
So here I was, sitting with the famous Lynn Crowden of the Woodlander Stud, drinking a bucksfizz within feet of Charlott Dujardin (thinking ‘be cool Nat,be cool!).
I find live dressage fascinating, particularly when it goes wrong. And with over 40mph winds, that was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s interesting watching riders’ techniques for keeping their horses attention and keeping them calm. The soothing tones of voice and reassuring pats were lovely to see.
After a little food (which, btw was lovely, particularly the chocolate brownies), I snuck off to the shops. There are many big, recognisable names there, Le Mieux, Neue Scheule, Sprenger etc. There were also some independents and smaller names (which I sometimes find are more interesting).
All in all I had a great afternoon out and would highly recommend anyone going in the remaining three days (or even next year). Now for that bit of shopping I mentioned….