Equestrian

Military Riders Back In Saddle In Inter Services Action After COVID Break

The Inter Services event was held at Bury Farm Equestrian Village in Bedfordshire.

Forces equestrian riders were back in the saddle as Inter Services action resumed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was held at Bury Farm Equestrian Village in Bedfordshire with competitors from all three services involved.

The Navy picked up the team prize which surprised Lieutenant Commander Jill Monnox, the team secretary.

She said: "It's fantastic news – utterly unexpected as well.

"We've had quite a few horses out with injuries come back from rehabbing.

"We've worked really hard to get the team together."

The action took place in sweltering heat meaning keeping the horses cool was the top priority.

Forces riders battled the heat in Bedfordshire to compete at the event.

Inter Services dressage took place inside on day one with four riders from all three services competing and the top three scores counting.

Lance Corporal Sarah Karim is the Army dressage team manager and explained what the sport entails.

"[The] format's changed this year for the competition as well," she said. "Originally, everybody rode the same test which was a novice test – considered the lower end of the spectrum in dressage.

"The new format – each rider has to fit within a set of rules for their level that they can appropriately ride at.

"We've now got a range of novice riders through to more advanced riders which we wouldn't normally have.

"So we have got a better range of competition but whatever level they go out, the principle is the same."

She says it's a bit like "rhythmic gymnastics" where there's a "set criteria that they have to show on the floor and then the judges judge each individual movement and give you a score out of 10".

"It's exactly the same in dressage," she added.

LCpl Karim, a reservist in the Royal Military Police, took the individual dressage title but, for many riders, it was great just to be back competing.

"It's been a fab day," said Senior Aircraftwomen Holly Croall, an elementary class rider for the RAF.

"Everybody's done really well on the team and we've all had a very solid performance.

"It's great just to get out and see people again."

COVID-permitting the RAF and Navy are looking to hold their service championships next month.