Dressage team ride to win at Olympia competition
DOGGY dancing hit the headlines in 2012 – but this year it is all about high-stepping horses.
A team from east Kent wowed the crowds in London over the New Year and are also starting 2013 as champions in quadrille – choreographed dressage to music.
The quartet, including Amy and Buddy Williams from Herne Bay, were victorious after the British Riding Club's competition at the London International Horse Show at Olympia. All are from Moat View Riding Club at Fordwich, near Canterbury.
Club secretary Jo Cocker, from Canterbury, said: "It was a fantastic feeling to ride out at Olympia – it's every child's dream if they are into horses.
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"We were champions in 2007, 2008 and 2009, then we had a break for a few years so there was a lot of pressure on us as we went in."
Jo, who is study director at the Royal Veterinary College, rides with friends Amy and Buddy and Sam Prior, from Deal.
They began training in March and qualified for the finals of the competition after finishing in the top four in a heat at Aintree, Liverpool in October.
The team's theme was 'birds of paradise' and all the riders' and horses' costumes were home-made.
Jo, 34, said: "It is hard work and it was quite a hassle to go all the way to Aintree with the horses but it was definitely worth it."
Quadrille has its roots in military drill and takes the routines of dressage one step further, with a seven-minute production where both rider and horse are in costume.
The Moat View team, who were sponsored by Chaucer Insurance in Whitstable and Animal House vets in Herne Bay, used a range of music for their piece, from Annie Lennox's Little Bird to Guns n Roses' Paradise City.
The same costumes were on show at the New Year's Day parade when the quartet rode through central London in front of thousands of wellwishers.
Jo said: "That was an amazing experience – but it did mean we were up at 4.30am on New Year's Day to get the horses ready.
"We had to hire lorries because ours did not comply with the low emission zone in the centre to London and we had a police escort through all the closed roads to get to where we needed to be.
"The horses coped magnificently with the music and the crowds and it felt very strange to be riding a horse through the middle of London."
The team's activities are funded by sponsorship and fundraising events organised by the club, which has 60 members.
For more information, visit www.moatviewrc.co.uk