British Mette Dahl has successfully taken over the ride on her father Anders Dahl's Danish WEG team horse Selten HW and raised the flag for Great Britain on her international show debut at Children's level at the 2020 CDI Le Mans in France.
Dahl and Selten HW on Winning Form
West Sussex-based Mette Dahl (13) dominated the Children on Horses classes with a double victory in both the Team and Individual Test. Her winning partner is none other than Selten HW (by Sandro Hit), her father Anders’ former top ride with whom he represented Denmark twice at an intercontinental championship.
Now retired from Grand Prix level competition, the 16-year old has struck up a great bond with his young rider and clearly still loves to compete.
"I have ridden Selten since the beginning of November and in this short period of time we have had lots of fun together and I have learnt an awful lot from him," Mette told Eurodressage. "As he is now not competing at Grand Prix level it is nice for him to have a job to do which he is enjoying as he is still so fit and well. He does make me work hard though. He is very big moving and I have had to work on strengthening my core to be able to sit his very bouncy trot!"
Mette gave the 17hh gelding, who is owned by her mum, British Olympian Fiona Bigwood, a super ride and posted scores of 72.20% and 72.94% respectively.
"I was very pleased with Selten in Le Mans as it was only our second show together. It was nice to feel him being so fresh and happy after having a little break from competing," said Mette. "It was also reassuring to have my dad train me as he knows him so well and understands his personality. I was nervous doing our first international together but at the same time I was feeling excited and honoured to ride him because of what he has achieved with my dad."
Selten HW is an American bred Hanoverian by Sandro Hit x Hohenstein. After winning the 2008 and 2009 U.S. young horse championships with Michael Bragdell, the black was shipped by his owner Elizabeth Ball to Europe to be sold. Bigwood purchased the horse as an 8-year old at the 2012 Equine Elite Auction for 500,000 euro. Under Fiona's husband Anders Dahl, the horse made its international debut at small tour level in 2014 and at Grand Prix level in 2016. They represented Denmark at the Rio Olympics and World Equestrian Games in Tryon. The pair's last CDI was the 2019 CDI Hagen last April.
"I am hoping to be able to ride juniors on him next year as long," Mette added.
Double Debut, Pony Level with George Clooney
Mette has made a double debut in Le Mans as she also premiered George Clooney BS in the FEI Pony division.
Dahl took over the rode on the now 9-year old British bred KWPN registered pony (by Caesar 171 x Santano) in September 2018. The pony is bred in the U.K. by Julie Lockey.
He was previously shown by Sophie Taylor, who represented Team GB at the 2018 European Pony Championships in Bishop Burton and finished 14th in the freestyle final.
At Mette's pony debut in Le Mans she scored three consistent rounds of 66-67%.
"I had a super feeling with George, and he was great fun to ride," said Mette. "As always George was extremely enthusiastic in the ring which gives me a lovely feeling. George is a very talented pony, but we lost some points due to some of my inaccuracies but hopefully that will improve with more shows. I felt like Le mans was a massive learning curve for me as I haven’t ridden many shows with George either. This is the first year that I am doing any serious dressage competitions. Up until now I have been training at home with the odd show but I have mainly been doing fun jumping competitions with my jumping pony. My parents think it is important that I ride both disciplines at the moment."
Mette would like to represent Great Britain at the European Championships, whether it is ponies or children, but for her the most important aspect right now is to learn and have fun.
"I am aiming to do some more internationals and I would love to get to the European Championships, whether it is on Pony’s or Children on Horses but there are a lot of good riders for Great Britain at the moment, so we are quite relaxed about it all," she explained. "We will have to see how the season goes but as it is only my first season we are very realistic about it all. My parents just want me to have fun and to enjoy competing."
Photos © Les Garennes
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