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Heart of England Group INTERNATIONAL

Heart of England Group EGB


The 2013 FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Riders and Juniors will be held at Tarbes, France on 26th - 27th July 2013. Huge congratulation to Group Members Brett Corcoran and Penny Amond (Reserve) for their selection.



Following hot on the heels of the sporting frenzy in London, Britain will play host for the first time to the Longines FEI CEI 4* World Endurance Championships, taking place on Saturday 25th August, at Euston Park near Newmarket, Suffolk. The 160km race across the undulating Suffolk countryside will see around 150 riders line up with up to 40 countries represented. Among contenders vying for the top spot at the 14th world title event will be defending World Champion Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain and the United Arab Emirates, winners of the team gold medal at the 2010 world championships

For more information, visit the website at www.endurancegb.co.uk
Also congratulations must go to Group member Tricia Hirst riding Madjin des Pins who has been selected to form part of the British team at this event.


Selection has now taken place for the Young Rider European Championships in September in Mont Le Soie, Belgium. Brett Corcoran will be representing GB and Heart of England with Bashir Shamyr. Well done Brett!


EGB has been invited to send a Team of 4 Junior riders (aged 12-14) to do a 60km competition at a ride in Corlay, Brittany on 15th-19th August on horses provided by the host Country. This is certainly not an opportunity to miss. Our own Molly Corcoran has been selected to go as one of the Team of 4. There was a very strong entry for this.


Congratulations to Group member Sally Farrall riding Silvretta Grand Marnier for being part of the WINNING England team. See Sally's report below:
Every year the countries of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales meet to contest the Home International Team Championship. Each country fields a team of 6 horses and riders, one to race 160km over 2 days, one to race 120km over 2 days, one to race 80km in 1 day, one to ride 80km over 2 days, one (a novice) to ride 40km in 1 day and one (a junior) to ride 50km in 1 day. The team successfully completing the most miles in the least time wins.

On Sunday 22 July 2012 at the Donard Festival of Endurance in County Wicklow in Southern Ireland the Endurance Home International was won by Team England. One of the 6 winning team horses was the 13 year old pure-bred Haflinger mare, Silvretta Grand Marnier ("Gizmo"), owned and bred by Helen Blair and ridden by me, Sally Farrall. Having been selected for the squad of 12 travelling to Ireland, Gizmo and I with crew, Helen Blair, Jan Hebblethwaite, Catherine Hood and Matt Allen, crossed the Irish Sea by ferry on Wednesday 18 July, arriving in Donard after a 14 hour journey and settled Gizmo into her temporary stabling. On Thursday Gizmo and I went out for a gentle hack to stretch her legs and she then had a thorough examination by the England team vet and physio. On Friday she trotted up for the England team vet again and at lunchtime that day our place on the final team of 6 was confirmed - we would be doing the 80km ER. That afternoon we presented to the official ride vet who passed her fit to start in the race the next day.

The day of the race started warm and dry and we went though the start at 8 a.m. onto our first loop of 27 km. I was under orders from the chef d'equipe, Maggie Pattinson, to complete safely and not to get involved in any racing - and it would have been difficult over that terrain after so much rain anyway - so we came into the first vet gate at just over 12km per hour. We passed the veterinary inspection (although we had to trot-up twice - Gizmo was so laid back in her trot that she managed to make herself look lame) and after a half hour compulsory rest, set out on our second loop of 33km. I again took the loop steadily, coming into the second vet gate at just over 11 km per hour. We took a little longer to present to the vet this time - Giz was very hot and we had to get her heart rate down below 60 beats per minute which is the cut off in Ireland. However she passed no problem and after another half hour rest, we set out on the final 20 km loop. I really tried to hold her back on the final loop, but she was still pulling strongly and an hour and a half later we came over the finish line. Giz went through her final vetting looking better than ever and the ride vets all agreed that she looked impressively well - one of them said that she was her favourite horse of the competition! We had completed and Gizmo's work was done.

While Gizmo spent the next day sleeping, the rest of us worked out on course supporting the other England riders and by the end of the day, with all 6 England horses home safe, we knew that we must be in a strong position. We hardly dared breath at the prize-giving that evening as the results were declared in reverse order, but when they announced that the Welsh had come second and we knew that we had won, I think we all screamed with joy! As it turns out, over a total distance of 530 km we had beaten the Welsh by just over 1 minute!

Gizmo is now safe and sound at home and will be enjoying a well earned rest. It is the turn of my own horse, Wheat to do some work now and we are heading for the 100km ER at Barbury for the Heart of England team.

Home International 2012 Home International 2012


My Mont le Soie experience really began back in November 2010 at the Hartpury training camp, and followed on in February this year at Bury Farm in Bucks. We were provided with a great deal of information during both camps and came away with our heads buzzing and full of good intentions. At this time Alpha was very fit but also extremely strong and unruly and I knew that we had some issues to address before we could consider riding another ER let alone competing abroad.

Between November and February we began a whole new training and management plan for Alpha. I knew that I would be required to perform a dressage test at Bury Farm and I was mildly panicked to say the least, stopping was a challenge let alone controlled downward transitions.

Taking everything on board that we learnt from the Management Team at the training camps I can honestly say that Alpha is a totally different horse. It has taken a lot of work, time and commitment but the results are amazing and looking back I know that we would not have completed at Mont le Soie without the journey we have made and all of the advice given.

After the Kings Forest ride in late March time seemed to evaporate, all of a sudden it was here and we were on our way to Belgium. Once we arrived at the lairage at Dover it was quite a hectic schedule but Field Marshal Martin (sorry Stevie couldn't resist) kept us together and we were on our way to Mont le Soie.

All of the horses travelled really well. Alfie was very kindly afforded the front facing space of the lorry so he had a bit more room. He is used to travelling breach in the trailer with his legs akimbo so I was a bit worried how he would travel in the lorry, I needn't of worried. After the long journey all the horses got a good leg stretch and munch on grass before being put to bed.

The next few days were a series of health checks, am and pm along with trot ups and vet checks by Anna Maria Nagy our team vet. Lee Clark our physio also evaluated every horse and rider and treated accordingly. Chris Pell our team farrier ensured that all was well with their shoeing.

We had an opportunity to ride a bit of the course during the daily exercise program which was excellent as it gave us a feel for what was to come. We had already been warned that the course at MLS was hard and stony and did not lend itself to fast going. Andrea spoke with us individually and suggested pairs of horse and rider combinations. I was paired with Lindsey Comden and her beautiful grey arab Radhwan. It took a couple of days for Rad to gel with Alfie but by the time the big day arrived they were great buddies.

On the Saturday, the day before our ride, we were all extremely busy which was good as it kept the nerves at bay. Along with the usual daily routine we set up the vet gates and our crews were doing their last minute checks out on course. Team photos were taken and all of the horses were gleaming and looked immaculate ready for the pre-ride vetting.

I wish I had a picture of the look of surprise on the vet's face when we presented Alfie. There was much flicking through of his passport to see what breeding he was and his FEI records. "160?" he teased, "no" I replied shaking my head. He then asked if we were in the 120K and I nodded. "Your first time?" "Yes", I said and he wished us good luck, gave Alfie a big pat and I had a renewed sense of determination.

While all of this was going on we knew that Rachel and Vanash were out there competing in the 160K and flying the GB flag. Whenever we were able the team did their best to wish her well as she progressed through the vet gates. What a wonderful sight it was to see them coming in to the finish, Vanash looked fantastic, strong and fit. Everyone was very proud and nerves gave way to excitement.

Lindsey and I decided we would hold back a couple of minutes at the start as we were both worried about being caught up with the front runners and having trouble holding Alf and Rad back. On the previous day a rider had come off at the start and the horse had taken off into the woods so we thought it best to hang back a couple of minutes.

After our nice relaxed start 'the boys' were on the job and the first 40K loop seemed to go quite quickly and Alfie presented in 3.5 minutes. Lindsey and Rad were only a couple of minutes behind us and caught us up on the next 30K loop. This loop was the only one where the going was good enough to afford us some consistent cantering which we gladly took advantage of. Alfie and Rad presented well and once again Lindsey was only a couple of minutes behind. The next loop did seem harder and towards the end we were conscience that the boys were showing signs of tiring.

Alfie presented in 4.5 minutes but he was visibly tired and the vet said his gut sounds were slow although he was sound and had no metabolic problems. This loop was our compulsory represent so we knew it might be the end of the road for us at 100K. The next fifteen minutes were tense to say the least. The whole team were fantastic and Alfie was given five star attention. He couldn't get enough to eat which was great and we also gave him an energy shot for good measure. I decided not to go to the represent as I did not want Alfie picking up on my anxiety. When Rod came walking slowly back with no expression I assumed the worst. "That's it then", I said to him. "No, you're still in the game", came his reply.

My emotions were high, full of total admiration for my plucky little horse and overwhelming concern. Stevie came over and gave me one of her 'kick up the bum' chats, in the nicest possible way. She was right, this was what I needed and I pulled myself together and set off on the last 20K praying that Alfie would pick up soon. Lindsey and Rad did not take long to catch us up and although Rad was tired too he found the energy to keep his new friend going. The support we had on that last loop was amazing, everyone was so kind and willed us to keep going, along with the silly songs Lindsey and I sang all the way to lift our spirits.

About 5K out from the venue we knew we were close on time and all of a sudden our prayers were answered. We didn't know if it was all the food and energy shots kicking in or just that they knew they were close to home but both horses suddenly pricked their ears and set off in a determined trot. They came into that venue with renewed vigour and we were so proud of their effort. The whole team were there and cheered us on, such a wonderful feeling.

Alfie was first to vet and performed his very best trot up of the day. Then comes the vet huddle as I call it where time stands still with heart in mouth. Finally, the result is given with one magical word "Yes", actually he said "Oui" but the relief and elation - magic! A big thumbs up and a resounding cheer from the team. Then we went through it all again for Lindsey and Rad, such a wonderful adventure the four of us had had that day. We were so very pleased that they were also successful.

Without sounding cheesy I can't say thank you enough to everyone who helped us on that day. It has been a huge learning curve and hopefully we have come away better and stronger. Alfie is having a well deserved rest, I've not told him yet that he has to do it all again at Cirencester....

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