Pocklington School was well represented in the National Schools' Equestrian Association Championships as the team travelled to Buckinghamshire for the national competition. Emma Forsyth, Equestrian team captain and Upper Sixth Form student has provided the following account of events:
"It seems that every year the same thing is said, ‘This is the largest team we’ve taken to the championships since we started!’, and once again this is true. At the beginning of the half term break 12 riders, 14 ponies and parents made the southward journey to Keysoe International Equestrian Centre. Over the course of five days, riders and their ponies put in some outstanding performances, with many new partnerships and debut championship team riders. The squad achieved some exceptional results despite at times, being hit with torrential rain and some spectacular thunderstorms which delayed some of the classes.
In total, Pocklington School qualified eight teams for the Championships, which in itself is no mean feat, given that a team must be placed 1st or 2nd at a qualifier or, as an individual, in the top four.
On the first day of competition Emily O’Gram, aboard her new ride Willoway Talk of The Town, flew to 2nd place in the hotly contested 70cm scurry class against 68 other riders. Her successes however, did not end there; she helped the 70cm team to 7th place, alongside Harriet Jacklin, Lucinda O’Gram and Anna Stephenson. Fantastic rounds from each combination in the first round left them with a clean slate and secured them a place in the jump off between the top eight teams. Anna and Lucinda jumped superb double clears, meaning the team ended in 7th place out of 27 teams from across the UK.
Anna Stephenson, debut championship team rider, finished her show with a triple clear in her showjumping classes, around courses which were causing their fair share of problems - an achievement she should remember for years to come.
Over the next couple of days, the riders continued to show their talent and skill, achieving some of our equestrian team’s best results. Sophia Elliott achieved an outstanding style mark of 2.3 in the 80cm Jumping With Style, aboard Miss Matilda. An unfortunate pole falling at the final fence kept her from a top three finish, however, she still secured her place near the top of the leaderboard. Sophia achieved similar style marks, when she piloted Park Robe Bobby around a technical 1m Jumping With Style track.
The 90cm team of Poppy Levitt, Billy Lane, Emma Forsyth and Emily Jones rode four stylish rounds, with both Emily and Poppy jumping clear. This secured the team’s place in the jump off against the top eight. Emma Forsyth, the newly appointed Equestrian Team Captain, was our last rider to go in the jump off – she rode a nail-biting round and despite her horse, Inky, being young and inexperienced in this environment, they jumped a fast clear to secure Pocklington School 4th place out 32 championship teams. This is our equestrian team’s best ever showjumping result and to achieve it at the National Championships is outstanding and something which all riders should be very proud of.
The Regional Points League (RPL) final also took place on the Saturday and although not the end result we had hoped for, all of our riders jumped excellent rounds. Charlotte Falkingham jumped in the 80cm section of the RPL and posted a valuable result for the team due to her accurate jump off turns and skillful riding. Anna Falkingham also showed great resilience and determination throughout and, despite not going clear, she also rode adeptly.
On the penultimate day of competition, the weather was not on our side, with the outdoor classes being delayed due to torrential rain throughout the morning. This, however, did not phase the 105cm open showjumping team of Sophia Elliot, Billy Lane, Emma Forsyth and Poppy Levitt. Each of the four horse and rider combinations jumped excellent rounds over a course which was causing plenty of problems; they finished in 10th place out of over 21 teams, narrowly missing out on the ribbons. A special thank you must go to Poppy Levitt, who stepped in at the last minute due to team illness.
Bringing the National Championships to a close was the dressage. A change of pace from the showjumping but each rider rode accurate tests, including Beatrice Burns - a debut championship rider for the school. It must be noted that despite narrowly missing out on a whole team placing, Billy Lane placed a fantastic individual 2nd in the Novice Team Dressage.
It was a brilliant championship for all involved. Across the five days every rider showed great skill and determination resulting in some well-deserved results, reflecting the hard work of riders, horses and the never-ending support from parents!"