I’ve been sat here for a few minutes wanting to write something, but not really sure what to say. Then looking back over previous posts, I realised that I’ve gone a bit quiet on the Mounted Games front.
So to sum up… Flint & Denbigh took 3 senior and 2 junior teams to the Area 5 final in May, and one senior and one junior qualified for the Zone finals. So on the first weekend of July we travelled across to Newark on Trent for them to compete. The junior team were too focussed on qualifying and points and position; instead of concentrating on doing their part correctly. They also had a bit of bad luck, and ended up 10th out of 14, and they could’ve done better.
The seniors however were an absolute pleasure to be with that day. They were mature, they concentrated on what they were doing, and they qualified for a few finals. They did disastrously in a couple of heats, which we had a good laugh about. And they missed out on a couple of finals by a few strides, which was more disheartening.
But they did enough. And they’ve qualified for the Pony Club Championships in Draycott, Derbyshire on Tuesday. The winner of their competition will take the last place in the Horse of the Year Show. Hopefully we will have as much fun as we did at Zone. I don’t fancy their chances of winning, but they should already be very proud of themselves. They are now the most successful F&D senior team (the previous one was mine which qualified for Zone back in 1997).
We had a very successful day on 18th April, hosting the F&D Mounted Games Friendly. Thanks to all those who helped out: the day went really smoothly, and the other teams really enjoyed themselves.
Both the Quarters (Anna, Ceri, Eleri, Mari and Sam) and Stripes (Alex, Anya, Nan, Suzi, Wenz) did very well in their heats: Quarters finished with 30 points and Stripes with 25, and both qualified for the A final. The Dimaonds team of Lousiha, Sam, Yaz and two Waen-y-Llyn members (Charlotte and Megan) did really well considering they only met that morning! They finished with 18 points and going through to the B final.
The gloves came off for the A final and it was a battle for first place between the Quarters and Stripes. Quarters won 3 races, 2nd in two, 3rd in two and one fourth. Stripes won 3 races, 2nd in two, 3rd in two and one fourth. By the last race they finished equal first on 23 points, one point ahead of United Pack. They raced in the Two Flag for the tie-break. The Stripes made a couple of mistakes and the Quarters were victorious.
In the B final, the Diamonds were consistently good: they got two 1sts, five 2nds and one 3rd. They finished on 25 points and in second place.
Senior A Final:
1st Flint & Denbigh Quarters … 23 points (won on tie break)
2nd Flint & Denbigh Stripes … 23
3rd United Pack … 22
4th Berwyn & Dee … 12
Senior B Final:
1st United Pack … 29 points
2nd F&D & WYL mixed … 25
3rd Cheshire Hunt South … 18
The Quarters (Alex, Alys, Becky, Georgia, Wil) qualified for the A final, and the Stripes (Charlotte, Eden, Megan, Sophie, Tomos) qualified for the B final.
The Quarters didn’t get off to a great start with two 3rds, but things improved and they got two 2nds and two 1sts, and also an unfortunate elimination. They finished with 18 points and in 3rd place, behind United Pack A and Waen-y-Llyn.
The Stripes got two 1sts, three 4ths and a 2nd before the last race. At that point, three of the four teams were on 14 points and it was a battle for 2nd place behind Cheshire Hunt South A. The Stripes raced really well and came in 2nd, and finished the competition in 2nd place.
Seniors … Session 1 The Quarters team (Anna, Eleri, Mari, Sam Major, Wil) did reasonably well with a first and two seconds. They finished with 30 points and in 7th place. The Stripes team (Alex Major, Anya, Nan, Suzi, Wenz) also did reasonably well and finished just behind the Quarters with 28 points. The Diamonds team (Georgia, Louisha, Sam, Sophie, Yaz) finished in 15th place with 20 points.
Session 2 Mari had a fall in one race and had to retire for the rest of the session – Wil stepped in and did very well having not practiced the senior races! They finished the session with 30 points, bringing their total to 60 points and putting them in 11th place. Stripes also finished with 30 points, giving them a total of 58 and in 12th place. Diamonds finished with 19 points and in 16th place.
Session 3 Mari was back with us and feeling much better after a bath and sleep in her own bed (unlike the rest of us who were camping or in lorries!). Quarters got another respectable total of 28 points. Stripes finished the third session with 24 points, and Diamonds with 23 points.
So after three sessions of heats, the Quarters had a grand total of 88 points and were in 10th place overall. The Stripes had a grand total of 82 points and were in 12th place overall. So both qualified for the B final. The Diamonds got a grand total of 62 points, and would start the final session with a runoff to try to join the Quarters and Stripes in the B final.
Finals Diamonds didn’t put a foot wrong in the tie break, not only beating the team they were competing against for the last spot in the B final, but also finishing before the two teams competing for the last spot in the A final!
Unfortunately, their luck didn’t last into the final, but they did manage to beat the Quarters in the Sock race! They finished with 12 points and in 7th place, but they still did really well for a team who have been swapping ponies and haven’t trained together! Quarters got a first and two seconds and finished the final on 32 points and in 5th place. The Stripes did really well, and a win in their last race took them to 41 points and into a tie break for first place in the B final. Our hearts were in our mouths as it was neck-and-neck all the way, but then Braham Moor’s final rider made a mistake, allowing F&D Stripes to sail into first!
Juniors … Session 1 Quarters (Alex, Alys, Becky, Georgia, Wil) managed a first, a second and a third , and finished with 16 points and in 8th place. Stripes (Charlotte, Eden, Megan, Sophie, Tomos) finished with 10 points and in 11th place. Tomos fell in exactly the same place in the Bending as he did last week, but he got back onto his feet and carried on competing.
Session 2 Quarters managed a second, a third and lots of fourths, and 24 points. They finished the first day with 40 points and in 8th place. Stripes got a couple of fourths and fifths, and 13 points, finishing the first day with 23 points and in 11th place.
Session 3 Quarters got a first and two seconds, and finished the session with 21 points. Stripes were unlucky – a fourth, fifth, two sixths and an elimination – finished the session with 7 points. Quarters finished the heats with a grand total of 61 points and in 7th place. Stripes finished with 30 points and in 11th place. Both qualified for B final.
Finals Stripes got a third, three fourths, and three fifths. Finished the final with 12 points and in 5th place. They did really well for a young team, and they’ll be the ones the watch next year! Quarters stepped up their game! They won four of their races and got second in the other three. They finished with a total of 32 points out of a maximum of 35, and won the B final.
Another team also deserve a special mention – Alex, Anna, Becky, Georgia and Louisha – who competed in the unmounted games on Saturday night. I only saw them doing the sack race, but they won it twice! Meanwhile the parents were treated to another rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody by Ann, Chrissie and Claire, and with Jude and Ruth filling in for Gill (they are branching out into other Queen classics though!).
This week the Senior A team was Anya, Nan, Wednesday, Ceri and Suzi. The B team was Yaz, Mari, Anna, Eleri and Ross. Both teams won two of their heats but unfortunately made a few mistakes in others. Both teams finished the heats on 16 points and made it into the B Final.
The A team won three of the finals, and the B team won two of the finals. Unfortunately the A team also had a couple of mishaps, so they finished the competition in 3rd place on 19 points, and the B team finished in 2nd place on 21 points.
The Juniors were on later. The team of Eden and Sophie Greaves, Alys Williams, and Charlotte and Tomos Williams, were competing against 7 other teams. They finished all their heats in third or fourth place, and were in the B final.
But then they really pulled the stops out – they won 5 of the 7 finals and won the B final with 22 points. So the youngest and most novice team have got their year off to a great start!
Seniors were on first. Our “A” team of Anna Hickey-Roberts, Eleri Jones, Mari Edwards, Ross Williams and Sam Major finished the heats in 7th place out of 12, qualifying for the B finals, but were only 3 points shy of making the A finals. The “B” team of Anya Dreiling, Ceri Williams, Nan Jones, Suzi Williams and Wednesday Rytter had a bit of bad luck in the heats and finished 11th out of 12, with 12 points and were in the C finals.
The “A” team raced well but found it difficult against good competition. And just when we thought they were going to win their first race, Anna learnt the hard way that you have to pick up the flag by the cane and not the material! They finished 3rd in the B finals with 18 points.The “B” team seemed to up their game in the finals. They managed two firsts in their 8 races, and were only a stride away from another, despite all our shouting to Nan to go faster! They won the C finals with 22 points.
The junior team of Alex Major, Alys Williams, Becky Sedcole, Georgia Williams and Robyn Cannell unfortunately had sickness and a fall to cope with, but still managed a few first and second places and qualified for the A finals. Alys was too ill to carry on for the finals, so we were down to four riders and five horses. They did really well considering, even managing to win one race and got a couple of 2nd places, and finished 3rd overall on 17 points.
Thank you to everyone who competed, all the parents for their support, and the fan club that came for the day! Our next competition is at Atherstone on 15th March, and hopefully we’ll have even more good news there.
Lastly, Anna, Eleri, Mari and Sam will be going to Builth Wells on 8th March to try out for places in the team representing Wales at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. On behalf of everyone involved in the mounted games in F&D, Gwil and Fran would like to wish you all the best.
First Flint & Denbigh games training for a few weeks yesterday. I was really impressed with them, and genuinely believe that they can do really well this year. But as always, it depends on their attitude as much as anything else.
How do I transfer my confidence in them into their own self-confidence? How do I get them to believe in themselves and keep trying? Hopefully I’l figure it out as we go along.
So we all trekked down to Derbyshire, set up our penning for the ponies in the rain, pitched our tents, and at 9am on Thursday we started the first competition.
The day did not go as planned. Nerves and the pressure of the occasion got the better of the team. I didn’t deal with it in the best way possible: I was angry that their attitude had changed, and rather than deal with that by happily getting them to concentrate on having fun and enjoying their day, I basically told them off about their attitude.
That said, if they could’ve managed one more point in the morning session, they would’ve been in the run-off for the championships final.
So we had a break and started the runners up final at 1.30pm. Again we didn’t get off to a great start. I said I’d meet them for a practice at 12.30pm, and they were 25 minutes late. So that got us off to another bad start. The afternoon session went better. They qualified for three finals, and I think they were first in each of those heats. But they seemed to get some bad luck in the finals.
We ended the day 10th in the runners up competition, and 22nd out of 24 overall. They should still be proud of themselves for getting that far: only the second F&D team to do it 10 years. And they beat a lot of teams to get there. Three of them are now too old for juniors, so move into the seniors age group where I hope they do as well.
So now we have to find a way of dealing with the pressure, and putting together a team that really wants to win, and believes they can.
The season started off well just after Christmas, with a win in their first indoor competition. They competed in several other friendly competitions before going on to the Area competition, where they finished third and qualified for the Zone finals. They trekked up to Newcastle minus Becky, who had broken her leg. They had horrible weather and were soaked through, but finished second and qualified for the UK Championships.
We’ve had about six weeks of training for the finals, and Becky is now back, albeit in a non-riding role. I haven’t seen enough of the other teams to be able to say whether they’re in with a chance, but I’m looking forward to finding out. They’re a great group of kids, with a fantastic attitude towards the competitions and to each other. I hope they don’t take it too badly when we shout at them for not concentrating in training: I think its just because we believe they’re capable of winning if they put their minds to it.
I’m going to be so full of nervous excitement tomorrow when we travel down, and obviously on Thursday. I hope I can keep it to myself and try to get them to relax, enjoy the experience, and focus on getting it right rather than the other teams. It doesn’t matter where they finish, as long as everyone can look back on it and say they were the best they could be.