Friday, 21 March 2014


2014 Varsity Squad with Ross Harrison and Ian Warrington DSU President
Acknowledgements to Fletch Photography
After months of training, trials and trotting the day had finally come for the biggest match of the year for De Montfort Equestrian team, where they were to face their ultimate rivals, the University of Leicester. The battle was to take place away from De Montfort's home turf, and at Leicester's nominated training yard, South Leicestershire Riding Establishment just a few miles down the road from DMU's beloved Witham Villa Riding Centre. With the home advantage stripped away, DMU were more determined than ever to train in preparation for the Varsity match, with the last few weeks forming a basis of some intense pre-Varsity hard work. This included pilates sessions, with resident physiotherapist, Sara Smith, who taught the girls how to improve their balance and co-ordination on the ground in order to benefit their riding position when on a horse. The girls also took part in various levels of competition including the final BUCS fixture for the A team who competed at Nottingham Trent, as well as the recent friendly match that took place on home soil with both BUCS style dressage and show jumping tests judged by yard proprietor Verity Saul. The Varsity match is ran in the same style as BUCS with an independent judge for both phases and both A and B team compete as a whole unit so every single rider counts!

The 19th of March saw a very early start for our DMU team who travelled to Leicester's training yard together to compete, with the dressage phase commencing first in the morning. Varsity is ran slightly differently to an ordinary BUCS match as the rider's are allowed to choose who sits on which horse for both stages after them being shown, rather than drawing at random. A lovely selection of horses were given who were all willing to work for both Leicester and DMU. A classy and much improved performance was shown by De Montfort who rode exceptionally well through the dressage test, with some brilliant scores on the board at the end. Leicester however, stole the lead after the first stage of the competition and it was down to De Montfort to steal back a win in the final stage of the Varsity match, the all important, adrenaline filled show jumping round!

With some solid jumpers on both A and B team, DMU were ready to take back their Varsity title by giving it their all across the course. The jumps included stiles, doubles and spreads with some tight lines and plenty of fillers to set the standard high for both universities. The jump horses were varied from 26 year old ex-eventers to the pony of the day, Monty, who has competed in Fox hunters and BSJA classes, a favourite by the end for our very own Irish lady, Gemma Elliott. The display from both teams was one that was not to be missed, with De Montfort gaining plenty of clear rounds and successful scores across both A and B team. Every member of the teams finished the day on a high with plenty of supporters coming out in their DMU Equestrian kit to watch the girls perform on the day. A special thank you has to go to Ross Harrsion who works within the DMU sports office who came and watched both the dressage and show jumping, and really embraced the equine world alongside Ian Warrington, President of DSU who came to watch the show jump phase.

Sadly though, UoL managed to scrape the red ribbons taking an overall Varsity win for Leicester. DMU however, didn't lose their team spirit and finished the day with a smile and a successful 3rd individual placing for Georgia Aston of the A team and Charlotte Scott taking 8th for B team.

Charlotte Scott has never ridden on the team before and Varsity was her first major competition and she is an example of the improvement consistent riding can give.

"It was such a fantastic day, and above everything I'm so proud of how far personally I have come and everyone else competing this year. The improvement all round is amazing despite not gaining a win. A year and a half ago I hadn't ridden for a few years and I never imagined I would be competing in Varsity let alone being placed 8th so it just goes to show how much my personal training has paid off. This will be a massive highlight for me to take with me after leaving university."

The loss of this years Varsity does not reflect the hard work and dedication that has been shown by all the DMU Equestrian team rider's who have been training every week, alongside competing and completing various gym and pilates classes to improve every aspect of their riding capabilities. The 2013/2014 committee all competed and were extremely proud of every single member who took part and the efforts made by everyone who came and supported as well as our very own Demon TV who came and filmed for the day. It was safe to say Leicester took the win, but it was definitely a DMU day through and through whose supporting crowd outnumbered UoL even on their own home turf.

Varsity marks the end of the competitive season for DMU Equestrian who have worked harder than ever this year with some brilliant individual results and team scores, as well as extra BUCS points for the A team. A huge thank you to everyone who has took part in the teams, committee, fun days and supported us on our journey this year including Zoe Walker and Keith Fletcher who have taken various photos and videos for us. It is now safe to say Equestrian sport at DMU is here to stay, and a huge part of this is the support from DSU and all the staff who work to make us a better club and BUCS team. A final thank you to Vice Chancellor of the university Dominic Shellard, who has actively engaged with our club and given us the support and motivation required to get DMU sport performance levels higher and more successful.

Jenny Walker, Chairperson for the club was able to see all the hard work put into practice with the DMU display at Varsity.

"Despite the loss of the home advantage, both A and B team excelled expectations and rode to a higher standard than we have ever seen. Everyone arrived and left with a smile on their face and I am immensely proud of each and every rider. The hard work and dedication put in over the last few weeks in training really showed and the huge improvement that a final push in the last few weeks can have. DMU Equestrian has some promising young riders for the future of BUCS and Varsity!"


Gemma Elliott

Georgia Aston

Clare Wilyman

Jenny Walker

Gabbi Berrill

Charlotte Scott
Helen Whittle

Lizzie Mole

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