As I sit here writing this, we are now just 1 day away from making our trip down to the hallowed grounds of the Badminton Estate. It would be safe to say that I’ve been experiencing a fairly wide range of emotions, alternating between ridiculously excited and extremely nervous and just about everything in between!
Since I got back from Honeymoon it’s been all go on the training front. Sadly we didn’t get our final eventing run as planned, as the ground had dried up too much for me to risk running Tally so close to the main event. He really hates hard ground anyway, so I’d have never forgiven myself if we’d have had a problem or I’d caused an injury, so I took my precious boy back home after the most expensive dressage test on record! I’m telling myself it’s all about quality runs not quantity, and we’ve had 2 really good double clears over big BE100 tracks, albeit back in March. Fortunately Tally is a horse that goes better when he’s fresh and a break from jumping does him good. In my head I wanted another run XC to prepare, but in reality I’m just going to have to trust that he knows his job well enough now and kick on!
The main part of our preparation that I’ve focused on is our fitness – it’s going to be a long way around that XC course! I started interval training with Tally back in January and could often be seen going round and round the ménage under the floodlights with my stopwatch beeping away. When the weather improved I was able to get out on to our fantastic XC course and do some more exciting laps, and the owners very kindly put out metre markers so I could know what great speeds we were reaching (or not in our case…there’s a reason why Warmbloods don’t race!). Ironically now the ground has hardened up I’m back in the ménage, but I’ve also made trips to our local gallops and the lovely Woburn Woods which has hills a plenty and many sandy tracks.
To show Tally that he isn’t the only one on a fitness regime I have been running (almost) every day. I got back from a rather carb-a-licious honeymoon and stood on the scales in horror – it’s amazing what shame and fear can do as a motivator as I can honestly say it hasn’t been a chore getting out of bed extra early to go plod the pavements in the mornings! Having said that I am not a natural runner in any way shape or form, and I really haven’t fallen in love with it like so many people claim to. Inspite of this it does make me feel good afterwards and I’m definitely getting both stronger and fitter. I’ve been drinking green tea like it’s going out of fashion, and my daily diet now contains strange words like ‘kale’ and ‘quinoa’. I’m basically living off protein and rabbit food but it’ll be worth it when we get there (…is what I’m repeatedly telling my hungry self!!).
This week Tally has had his back, saddles and feet checked and he’s looking fit and ready to go. I had my final jumping lesson last night with my super trainer Ian Wills, who was unusually nice to me and we just had a good sharpen up with some skinnies and angles. I will have a final run through of our test tonight and then focus on some more cantering work this weekend. Having planned every single day of Tally’s work since the start of 2015, it feels very surreal to be nearly there – now is the time to have faith in the prep that we’ve done and the work I’ve put in (easier said than done but I’m trying!!).
So Team Tally is very nearly ready to go – we’ve even got the T-shirts printed and the all-important food and drinks list is coming along nicely. I have the most wonderful motley crew of friends, family and experts coming with me and I’ve been overwhelmed by everyone’s support – even from people we don’t know via social media! I will do my very best to represent the everyday amateur rider, who didn’t buy a ready-made winner and works hard each day to get just a little bit further. Just driving through the gates will accomplish one massive dream, so fingers crossed we manage that and follow it up with a performance to be proud of. Whatever happens I’m so grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait for the experience to get started!
To be continued !