MIKEdekockracing.com enjoyed a good response to our September 13 article about former stable stalwart Equal Image and his rider Erinn Dempsey, who have captured the hearts of horse lovers around the country with his showmanship and versatility in various equestrian disciplines. See It’s All About Image.
The dark grey turned almost snow white Equal Image has added a few more trophies, rosettes and medals to Erinn’s prize showcase since, landing among others, the title of South African Avis Derby Complete Horse!
Erinn, who is incidentally the long-time sweetheart of Mike’s assistant trainer John Buckler, tells:
“Equal Image and I competed at the Avis Derby at the beginning of October. We took part in the Showing Classes, where they judge conformation and the way your horse goes. The judge gets to ride the entries too. Equal won the Large Show Hack division – for horses who are over 1.69m tall. He was Reserve Champion Show Hack and came 2nd in the Large Show Riding. He also won the Large Working Riding and was Working Riding Champion. In addition he won the Large Working Hunter and was Working Hunter Champion.
“Following this he was the South African Avis Derby Working Champion Horse on show. We then competed in the Complete Horse championship – the first time for both Equal and I – against 32 other horses. There are three phases to the Complete Horse and you have a different judge who gives you marks for each section. In Phase 1 they judge on a Working Riding Test, a ride by the judge, conformation and turnout. After the first phase your marks from each section are added together. To our shock Equal was in the lead after all of this!
“The top 15 horses move forward to the next day for Phase 2, where they compete in a dressage test and showjumping round, again with different judges who mark each section. The final day is Phase 3 where only the Top 5 go forward and do a free test. We made it through to that, which was truly nerve-wracking as we had to compete in front of a huge crowd with the stands full.
“I was worried that Equal was a bit flat after his whole week of competing but when he went inside the arena he came alive. When he saw all the people, needless to say, he never put a foot wrong and we pulled it off, winning the South African Avis Derby Complete Horse!
“Two weeks later we competed at Treverton in Mooi River at the SA Eventing Championships. This was his first FEI 1 Star Event. It was a long format so we had to do 3726m with 26 fences set at 1.10m and he was amazing in his country round going clear. We finished 5th and this was our first qualifying ride over and done with!”