Equo's south west brand ambassador, Ali Dane, tells us what's been going on with 'Team HDE' in her Equo blog.

On the 15th October Buryhill Competition Centre near Swindon was invaded by Hurston Dressage and Eventing (Team HDE). It was an all female affair, as the truck (lovingly known as Shaniqua) was loaded up with three beautiful mares, three excitable women and all the associated blingy dressage gubbins. The combinations on board were Ruth Harris and Arietta, Christine Jordan and Wilma, and me with my new four-year-old, Sandrina.

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It was a highly anticipated outing for various reasons; Ruth and Arietta have had a tough year. After a lot of investigation and worry, we found that Arietta was experiencing pain in her SI. The area has been injected and diligently treated, but I don’t think Ruth will mind me saying that Arietta wouldn’t be the most stoic horse in the world! In fact, the term drama queen springs to mind… If something isn’t quite right in ‘Arietta Land’, goodness me, do we know about it. So the fact that we’d even got to the stage where she could go out competing was incredible. Very careful management and preparation by the whole team (including a daily full body massage for Lady Arietta by her wonderful mother), meant that Arietta really had absolutely no excuse not to perform at her very best. And she did – she behaved beautifully, scored 70% and came 2nd! Yes, there were tears of joy.. the relief was immense. In the summer we weren’t sure if Arietta would be ridden again, let alone compete. A real boost for Team HDE, thanks to Ruth’s perseverance as well as some really top notch professional care from vet Jamie O’Gorman and chiropractor Emily Graham.

Christine and Wilma have also experienced some real lows in the last 18 months. Wilma can be challenging (you’ll notice a theme with the horses on my yard…) and summer 2014 was touch-and-go as to whether she’d be turned away as a broodmare, as she was unmanageable to ride, and very stressed in general. We’ve worked tirelessly on her physical and mental wellbeing to get her back on track, and through Christine’s determination and bravery, they’ve been out competing successfully this year, improving month on month since May. This outing at Buryhill was to be their final unaffiliated competition, before their BD debut the following week. They produced a really lovely Prelim test – in fact it was so lovely that I burst into tears when they did their free walk! Their Novice test was extremely good too, and again, I was reduced to a blubbering mess as they nailed some quite tricky movements. Their hard work was rewarded with a 6th place rosette. And more tears.

And my baby Sandrina… I think the video to go with this blog says most of it, so all I’ll say is this: she’s quirky and opinionated, is capable of throwing the most almighty strops, and she has to have the last word in an argument (she grunts at you.. No, she really does). But she is extremely well bred, stunning to look at and we get on very well. I’m not a big believer in ‘fate’, but this year I’ve had some amazing things happen to me, and being given Sandrina is one of them. Ruth decided to Google the name ‘Sandrina’ last week. Sandrina’s name, so it turns out, is the Greek equivalent of my full name, Alexandra, which means ‘Defender of Men’. I think that’s a little bit of fate, right there. She’s with me to stay – I know it will be a challenge, but I think she’s on my team now and is already a great friend of mine, as well as being my namesake!

So… watch this Sandrina-shaped space!