Libby Priest recently competed in the British National Carriage Driving Championships at the David Broome Equestrian Centre in Chepstow, Wales.
Libby travelled with a full house of horses - including her trainee mount Harry - arriving safely despite tricky weather conditions that forced her sailing to be delayed one day.
The first competition day kicked off with dressage, something Libby has been particularly concentrating on this season. She and her pair of KWPN horses, Ollie and Fiktor, drove a very accurate and correct test to secure them first place with encouraging comments from the judges.
Marathon day is always exciting and brings crowds of spectators - this is an electric atmosphere for the horses to compete in so preparation is key. Walking obstacles as many times as possible to memorise the best routes is how Libby prepares for this challenge and the tactic worked as they were second in the phase and increased their overall lead by 1.5 penalties.
The final day for team Priest saw a nerve-wracking wait, being last to compete. Driving positively was a must in what is normally Libby’s strongest phase.
She and her horses did not disappoint, going clear up to the last cone where she received a six-second time penalty and one cone down.
But she had done enough to clinch the national championship title. Having been reserve champion on two occasions, this was the icing on the cake for the team having won their first international event in France earlier in the season and winning at Bywell horse driving trials at the end of August.
The nationals were the first selection trial for the 2019 world championships to be held at Drebkau, Germany next September.
All of these opportunities and competitions would not be possible without the help of her team, which consists of back-steppers, father Graham and partner Michael. Also her mum, Susan, and friends Jacqui and Maria who give up their spare time to groom and assist at shows.
l Libby would also like to express her thanks to Ivan Kelly for his input with dressage training, plus Emerald Green Feeds and Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for assistance with travel.