Jess, Fraser and Molly
The National Schools equestrian association is a huge, prestigious competition. Competitors must look immaculate with perfectly turned out horses. This means very early starts so the horses can be groomed thoroughly and have manes and tails plaited. Students commit to late nights, arriving home in the dark and putting the horses to bed before thinking of their own comfort. It involves a series of arena eventing qualifiers with many counties involved. Our team qualified in the South West. All sorts of schools compete, state schools, independent schools and boarding schools.
The first arena eventing event was in October (6 show jumping fences and 10 cross-country fences) at Bicton arena. Jess and Fraser came in clear and Molly just had one pole down. Our team gained 4th place in the class competition which meant 4th place overall and qualified us for the National Schools Championships plate at Keysoe. This was an amazing accolade in the team’s first event but they were keen to aim for a higher placing to qualify for the National Championship finals.
The next event at Pontispool Equestrian Centre gave them that opportunity. It was a challenging event with difficult fences and water jumps. The team (Fraser, Jess and Molly) jumped well getting good rounds with 13 school teams and many individuals also competing in this class. Due to the SMCC team’s lovely rounds the team were placed second to qualify for the National Eventers Championship challenge finals at Hickstead!
Fraser, Molly and Jess with Taz, Megan and Polly.
This is so impressive as only the first two teams go through. Both of these competitions were at 90-95cm in height. Jessica also had individual rosettes at fourth out of 78 in the 80 class and 9th out of 57 in the 90 class with Molly being 13th in this class.
The scoring is quite difficult to understand. The lower the score the better you have achieved. Ideally you need a minus figure to finish on, this means you have usually gone clear, jumped the joker fence and not been far off the optimum time set.
Jess Competing at Pontispool on Polly
The championship means the team has moved from the South West England championship to a national level, they now have to compete against everyone that qualified in their area from the UK.
Lily Cronk supported the team valiantly in the 80 cm and 90 cm classes and was a cheerful, resilient team member. Lolly Meyer supported as a member of the 80 cm team and it cannot be overstated how very hard they both worked.
As well as the dedication and commitment our students have displayed, they have been brave and ambitious. The idea is to work as a team as much as possible and that is what coach, Hannah Cumings promotes in these events. Our students are very supportive of each other, which is more important than winning. They have all had up and down days so know what it is like to support each other through the lower times.
The 90 cm team members that have qualified for Hickstead at this time are Fraser Boundy, Molly Matthews and Jess Cumings. We hope to have some more members qualified before the Championships in May.
Fraser on Taz
With thanks to Mrs Hannah Cumings and Jess Cumings for this article.