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Anna Williams

The British U21 Endurance Team
(Photo courtesy of Eric G Jones 01747 860625)

The morning of the 16th of July was the start of the assessment weekend at Hartbury College
for the best of the British Junior Endurance riders. The day began with introductions from all

  • Cazzie Atkinson (Crofthill Statesman)
  • Vicky Brown (Simply Chloe/Angus Macleod)
  • Victoria Davis Holloway (Columbus)
  • Laura Davis Holloway (Malutki)
  • Brianna Egan (Midnight Countess)
  • Fiona Hamilton (Burfield Queen Bee)
  • Abigail Lockett (TBC)
  • Catriona Moon (Wotan Rose Caili/Wotan Roseate Tern)
  • Sam Oakes (Yamavar)
  • Chris Rose (Tamaryu)
  • Liz Taylor (Falaina)
  • Lucy Taylor (Electric Blue)
  • Anna Welch (Blue Sirocco)
  • Anna Williams (Khairho)
  • Sarah Wyatt (Prince Edward)

as well as expectations from the management team including Chef d'equipe Sue Broughton
and team vet Keiran O'Brian. Following the initial introductions we were then given a talk
from senior team vet Rod Fisher entitled 'Dem bones, dem bones'. In this talk Rod told us
about various different muscle and joint injuries our horses may suffer from in our particular

At 11.15 all the riders and their horses were split into three groups, each group to have a
riding assessment, vetting and farrier assessment and weighing of the horses. In the riding
assessment riding instructor Mandy Leusley concentrated mainly on the level at which the
riders and their horses were working at. She was able to give us good advice on how to get
our horses working in a better outline and basically getting us to work more as a partnership
with our horses rather than fighting against each other. This would come in extremely useful
when competing as the horse wouldn't become tired as quickly when they weren't resisting
their rider.

The vet and farrier assessments are rather self-explanatory. Keiran did various flexion tests on
each horse and gave them the once over. The farrier assessment involved having all the
horses' hooves being checked and inspected and being trotted up so that Phil and David were
able to have a good look at each horse.

The afternoon session of the Saturday began with team building and problem solving
exercises for both riders and crews. I felt this was really worthwhile as it brought all the riders
together getting them to work as a team which is absolutely crucial in the situations we may
be faced with in competing. Another thing we did in these exercises was write the best party
list we could come up with. This may sound a little strange but was an excellent exercise again
as we had to learn to compromise, yet another crucial skill needed.

At two thirty the riders faced their doom, the rider fitness assessment! We all had visions
hurtling through our minds of all different situations we may be faced with but none were
even remotely close to what really happened! We were all led into a room in the middle of the
complex and were faced with a horse treadmill. So, we all had a bit of a laugh about and then
asked where we were really going to have our fitness assessment.
"Here" came the reply. What was to follow was perhaps the funniest part of the weekend. We
each had to run on the treadmill, four at a time, for five minutes. I think the prize e for most
comedy appearance had to go to Fiona Hamilton for her spectacular display of 'How to fall
off the back of a horse treadmill at great speed'! After our little escapays we were able to
relax a bit and watch the video of our riders in Calais last year. Once the video had finished
we had a round up of the day and then everyone was off to the pub!

Sunday morning began bright and early, well early anyway! Blood tests were taken from all
the horses so that they could be analysed by the members of the management. Following the
blood tests we all met up in the main classroom and were given the programme for the day.
We were then given another very interesting talk this time entitled 'The fine tuning' and this
was delivered by Dr David Marlin, Kieran O'Brian and Mat Fernandez.

At 9.00am we began to tack the horses up and were once again separated into the three
groups. On the second day we had the horse fitness evaluation, endoscoping, trachea washes
and a physio assessment from Mandy Leusley.

The horse fitness evaluation involved us riding in small groups of about 3 or 4 all riding with
pulse monitors. WE had to ride as a group and did three circuits of trot, three circuits of a
medium canter and then three circuits of a fast canter. The pulse rates were monitored
continuously to check for recovery rates and the horses general fitness levels. The
endoscoping and the trachea washes I found fascinating. These tests enabled Kieran, Mat and
David to check on the level of dust and particles found in the horses respiratory system and
then subsequently give us advice on how we were able to improve these results.

After the assessments we re-grouped again and were given an excellent talk from Claire
Barrie, our guest speaker. She was very helpful and told us how we should present ourselves
when competing in this country and overseas particularly infront of the press. This was
extremely helpful as it is vital on how we appear to other countries and how we conduct our
selves, after all, we are representing our country.

Once we had all had lunch we were given another helpful talk. This one was from Kieran and
his subject was based on showing our horse off to its best when in the vetgates. After Kieran's
talk Mat was then given a bit of time to tell us a little about the area our team will be heading
off to in Spain. We found out about the extreme temperatures our team will be facing and the
terrain we could expect to come across.

Following the afternoons talks we were all given some fabulous news. Jackie Moon, who had
been handling all the sponsorship was able to tell us about a fantastic sponsorship deal the
team had been given. We are now officially sponsored by Alavis msm. Alavis msm is
described as "The natural Solution to pain" and is manufactured by Carolwood Corporation.
This product is available in the UK and can help horses, pets and humans with anything from
back pain, athletic injury and joint and muscle pain to arthritis sufferers. So, Alavis have
kindly agreed to match any money pound for pound that we raise in order to get us to the
Junior World Championships in Spain. Our great thanks go out towards Alavis, Hartpury
College for the kind use of all their magnificent facilities and off course to our wonderful
management team, particularly Sue Broughton, our Chef d'equipe.

Anna Williams.
U21 Endurance Squad Rider.


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