Carla celebrates dressage victory
Five Star success for Kirkcudbright pupil
The Stewartry has a new sporting champion.
Kirkcudbright Academy pupil Carla Milne and her horse Hey Good Looking GK won the KBIS preliminary silver category at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.
Fifteen-year-old Carla and her horse, also known as Cookie, had qualified as Scottish regional champions. Carla and mum Fran had a nailbiting week ahead of the championships as there was a bruise on one of Cookie’s hind feet, meaning he was lame when he should be been going through final training.
As preparation, Carla had competed at Morris Equestrian Centre and the pair won both their classes with high scores. However, after a day’s rest Cookie was uncomfortable with a sore hind foot but he was pronounced fit to travel after several days of intensive nursing and a visit from the farrier.
The 307-mile trip to Gloucester was a dream adventure as the national championships are the goal of many riders and just to win the chance to compete there is an achievement in itself. Competitors from Aberdeenshire to Cornwall gathered, all having qualified from their own regional semi-finals.
Carla’s preparations began at 3am as she and Cookie both had to arrive into the main arena, ready to compete at a quarter to eight in the morning. This involved plaiting his mane and giving him arena familiarisation walking for 45 minutes then, like any athlete, Cookie had to go through his warm up exercises to prepare.
The test was broadcast on a live stream, so Carla’s trainer Jane Rutherford was able to watch from Aberdeen where she was teaching a clinic over the weekend.
Jane said: “Performing in a championship is daunting and every circumstance in the week leading up to the championship added more pressure to Carla and Cookie. Their preparation was far from ideal, the weather was cold and wet at Hartpury and to cap it all, they were drawn first to go, out of 21 competitors, in the first test of the whole day.
“They rode a very secure, elegant test and proved they both have the ability to perform well technically at national level and the judges rewarded their performance. I don’t know which of us was more nervous, Fran, Carla or Cookie.
“I’m extremely impressed by how level headed Carla was as dealing with the bruise and the uncertainty of competing was very stressful. I’m so pleased her hard work and total commitment has given her her first national title.”
After posting a good score of 70.46 per cent, Fran and Carla then had the long wait until 11.20am to discover the final result. Live scores were posted throughout the class and only one other competitor scored similar to Carla but the three judges were in agreement that Cookie was the new preliminary national champion.
Carla said: “What an experience! Hartpury is an exciting venue to compete at and to win with a beautiful rug from KBIS and a sash was a bonus! I am so proud of Cookie – he is a young horse who coped so well at his first major competition.
“I would like to thank everyone in our support team but especially Jane, without whom we could never have competed.”
Fran added: “It was amazing to see Carla compete against riders of all ages and to achieve such success – lovely to see that all the hard work and stress has paid off.
“Well done to Carla, Cookie, and all our support from both professionals and friends, a great team.”
Carla ended the competition with three rosettes as she was also best BD youth rider and best amateur owner in the class.
Delighted Kirkcudbright Academy pupil Carla Milne and her horse Hey Good Looking GK won the KBIS preliminary silver category at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships