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15-16th August 2015

Report by Liz Finney

2015 Inter Regional North West Team

A North West team, comprising of riders from Cheshire and Lancashire groups, made their way to the Cranwich ride at the weekend (August 15/16th) to compete in the Inter Regional championships.

The teams are made up of a mixture of advanced, open and novice riders and horses competing in classes from 80km to 33km.

Some team members due to arrive Friday afternoon had got stuck on the A1 which was closed for two hours after an accident, or on the M6 which was closed near spaghetti junction.

Eventually a convoy from the A1 hold up arrived, Rachael Atkinson, Jackie Lloyd , Kath Wilson and Kim Gibbons and the horses could finally have a leg stretch in their corrals after their 8-9hr journey.

At 8.30 on Saturday our first team members, Rachael and Jackie, set off on the start of the 80km CER.

Conditions along the forest tracks were perfect, the route marking was very clear and the weather sunny but cool.

The start of the 65km class followed, in which Shaun Walsh and young rider Izzy Wilson were representing our team. The rules for this class had been changed at the last minute to comply with EGB rules, so their aim was to ride at 14km.

I was then alerted to a problem in the camp by Lily and Kim Gibbons as Lily’s pony Sandy was not impressed at being left in his corral without Izzy’s pony Gizmo and was threatening to follow.

Luckily, the Cotswolds group nearby had two horses staying in their corrals, so Sandy became a temporary Cotswold member for the day.

Pat Guerin and Anna Collins started the first 42km of their 2 day 84km class. John Black, our reserve rider rode with them.

There had been a hold up early into the 80km ride when Sharon Davidson had a nasty fall. All the riders waited until she had been treated and taken to hospital in the ambulance. The horses, apparently were so good, one minute in a fast race, next minute chilling out until they could start again, then off!

We had Jackie and Rachael successfully through both vetgates and Shaun and Izzy quickly through their vetting after 42km.

Then the 65km class went a bit pear shaped for the team as Izzy and Shaun went on the wrong colour of loop by mistake and, in order to avoid elimination, had to go back to ride the correct route. This was a very low point for both of them, but they got their horses round well within the time allowed, having ridden over 80km in total. I think this should be known as the Shaun factor, as his ability to get lost is apparently second to none!

Sadly, we couldn’t get Shaun’s horse Abby’s heart rate down sufficiently at the final vetting, so she was eliminated, but Gizmo passed and gained valuable points for the final team score.

Shaun had come into the team at the last minute when Sue Higgins withdrew, and was really supportive all weekend. He didn’t even get much sympathy after being knocked off by a branch on the first loop and hurting his back!

Meanwhile, Pat and Anna both vetted successfully to complete day 1 of their class and Jackie and Rachael finished in 5th and 7th places in he 80km.

The remaining team members had arrived and we all relaxed with a barbecue and a glass or two of wine before settling the horses for the night.

Sunday was another day! Perfect weather for riding, slightly cooler than Saturday.

Unfortunately, Anna’s DD had bruised a heel and was lame so was eliminated from the 2 day class. This was a real blow to Anna, but luckily it didn’t seem too serious an injury.

Jane Wyatt set off on her 42km class for open or advanced horses followed by Pat and John and then Joy Toomer and John Illingworth on their two native horses.

Inter Reg 15 2 Inter Reg 15 3 Inter Reg 15 4

Our last group was in the novice 33km class, with Jean Spearing , Lesley Harrison and junior rider, 10 yr old Lily Gibbons in only her third competitive ride.

All the horses and riders were brilliant, finishing at speeds around 14km/hr and the crewing at the end resulted in some really good final heart rates, at least with the horses!

We then had a long wait for the team results and eventually some of our team had to leave on their long journey home.

Finally the scores were ready.

Izzy and Lily won rosettes for the young and junior riders, John Illingworth’s Shanco won a veteran horse rosette and Jackie Lloyd won a best turnout prize.

Then Lily and Sandy won the 33km class which was a great result as that was the largest class of the day.

Team results were in reverse order.

Finally the North West‘s name was called out, second place, just one point behind the local group, Iceni.

This was the cause of the delay, as the organisers had to recheck all the results to make sure they had it right.

It was a fantastic result for a team of riders and crews who really worked together to make it happen.

The results are now on the EGB website and we were 12 points ahead of the third team.

Well done everyone!

Liz Finney
2015 shirt legend

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