Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 86

EQUESTRIAN Gemma's hard work pays off Three years of dedication and hard work on the mainland have brought their rewards for Island dressage rider Gemma Maddocks. Gemma has been training and working at Judy Harvey’s yard in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, and the endeavours paid off when she and her horse Wustensand won the International Dressage Young Riders Team Championship Test at Hickstead. Gemma has had 11-year-old Wustensand for the past three years, and said: “I feel he has come on leaps and bounds since we went on the mainland. His scores have improved and he has gone up the levels, which is all good. There were about 20 competing in the Hickstead event, not just from England but from Europe as well. It was Gemma and Wustensand’s second Hickstead appearance. They 86 competed at junior level two years ago, finishing fifth, so her success was another big step in the right direction. Earlier in her career Gemma did not specialise in one discipline, but that changed when she acquired a pony which started doing well at dressage, and that soon won her over. She is currently in the GB under-21 Progress squad, and her aim is to make the European team next year, and must have an excellent chance as she beat several of her main rivals at Hickstead. She said: “I will have GB under-21squad training during the winter, and then I have to keep going next summer competing wherever I can to get enough good scores to hopefully be picked for the under-21 team.” Gemma and Wustensand have already made the step up to Intermediate One level, and have recently enjoyed mainland success. Now Gemma plans to stay on the Island for much of this winter, and will then decide whether she can maintain the high standards she has reached while still living here, or whether she will have to move back to the mainland in the spring. But she has made up her mind to stick to dressage, saying she enjoys the challenge of building the partnership with Wustensand, and teaching him moves that are natural to him. She said: “It took us a good 18 months to click, but now I feel we work well together. We are marked out of 10 in competition, so we are constantly working to try to get that next mark up. I love competitions, so it is good to go out and compete against riders from all over the world, and hopefully next year will be our year.”