Dressage in the sandbox today and as the temperatures rose so the footing dried out and it got pretty deep in places in the main arena which wasn’t obvious to those of us standing on the sidelines but was very much noticed by the riders.

Jonelle and Chilli’s Morning Star (Ollie) blitzed their team appearance for the 3*L Olympic Games Qualifier (OGQ) with a superb test for a 26.1 to lie in 2nd place overall and help the NZ team to 3rd place after dressage out of the 5 teams vying for Olympic qualification. It was a stellar performance and Ollie really did step up to the plate and give his best for Jonelle. Team mates Clarke Johnstone and Nick Brooks are on pretty green horses with just a handful of intermediate runs between them so it was a good effort when up against some world class combinations like Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos.

In the late afternoon the 4*S class got underway again with the second half comprising the individuals. Tim and Jarillo (Milo) stepped up to their first 4 star with aplomb and there were some super movements and some green mistakes that are all part off the long old road to the top. If anything Milo is guilty of trying too hard and he was determined to be part of the big boys club as his stable mates Falco and Happy Boy were very laid back about “just another 4 star”. Falco was hanging out and pretty happy with still lying in 2nd place mid way through day 2 and Happy was pretty sure was going to skip the dressage as he has been here since Tuesday and not entered an arena. A moment of confusion after the half pass right when Milo thought he was turning left, Tim corrected to right and then super-horse-shy Milo caught his reflection in the window of the judges box and nearly died of fright! Despite his super spook he still scored 31.3 which was good enough for top 20 in a class of some 73 horses.

Happy Boy was last to go at 7.30pm when he was clearly ready for bed. He was not amused to be left til last although it actually was an honour, he thought he had been forgotten. He thought the going was deep, it was hot, hard work, Tim was being super picky about square halts and clean changes and he carried his disdain into the arena with him and despite his best efforts to be a brat still finished in the top 25. He sulked all the way back to the stables where Falco still lay second, Milo was being super annoying about making the top 20 and beating the pants off Happy and his long awaited supper finally was delivered to his manger. I doubt his temper will improve overnight when he discovers he doesn’t do anything til late afternoon again on Saturday.

It is a busy but happy barn and everyone, horses and humans alike are looking forward to the jumping phases tomorrow. And, best of all, the sun still continues to shine!

The New Zealand Team Stables. 2023 IRL-Millstreet International Horse Trial. Millstreet Town, Co. Cork, Ireland. Wednesday 31 May 2023. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography