Receiving Pumbaa’s latest copy for her blog always brings a chuckle and Episode 5 from her time at Tattersalls doesn’t disappoint! Still juggling A level revision, Pumbaa shares her latest antics in her own brilliant way.
“As I write this I am sat in the back of the lorry as we return to English soil after a long week at the wonderful Tattersalls Horse Trials in Ireland. The event’s slogan was ‘Tatts: Action On And Off the Course’ – they weren’t kidding.
Both my liver and head are currently less than pleased with me and I’m running on 2 hours sleep after an awesome last-night party. Seeing as my relationship with sleep is pretty poor at the moment anyway (thanks to our little friends A Levels) I’m not holding high hopes for the rest of the day.
Sleep and I have always been pretty friendly, on first name terms as it were, however it seems that with coming of exams and over loading my brain with information (which, by the way, I will never again have any use for) he’s been getting a little over-attached – clingy even. So basically, when I’m asleep I’m dreaming about exams, and when I’m revising I’m dreaming about sleep. Just super.
Anyways, I digress. Focus Pumbaa: Tattersalls. WHAT an event! It’s safe to say that the Irish have got event hospitality down to a fine art; Receptions with an impressive amount of free wine, live streaming screens in the stables and nightly (themed!) entertainment. And, of course, I mustn’t forget to mention the most important part of the event: The Irish. I have always been, and will always be, an absolute sucker for an Irish accent.
A 4.30am start on Monday morning began our week. We wanted to give the horses a good 45 minute walk before loading as we had a charming 6 hour trip to the port at Holyhead, followed by a 3 hour ferry journey and a final hour on the otherside (or 2 in our case – they may have cracking accents, but the Irish seriously need to sort out their road signing!). After copious amounts of caffeine and mini red-velvet cupcakes (highly recommended combination) we finally arrived, having taken a lovely, if unintentional, detour round Dublin. Giving up and heading to the Guinness factory may have been considered but it was decided that The Wonder Dun preferred his barley unfermented so the idea was vetoed.
On Tuesday we had a chance to get our bearings and explore a little. For me it also provided an opportunity to crack on with some work – the gazebo became my place of choice for the week, so it was strewn with various books and papers much to my Mother’s OCD delight. The main excitement was the fact that there was free Wifi in the lorry park and the stables – genius! It made for a lot of very happy social-media-ering eventers.
Wednesday brought the trot up and Dell, for once, behaved surprisingly well. His usual trick is to wait till I’ve stood him up in front of the ground jury to swing his quarters in their general direction. I don’t think he’s yet understood that squashing the judges is not the best tactic.
I also managed it fit in 5 hours worth of revision. And yes, I was extremely smug about it too. History was flavor of the day as that is my first exam on the cards so I had the pleasure of Khrushchev and Brezhnev for the afternoon. I still can’t remember how to even spell their names, let alone what they did 50 years ago. Promising.
Thursday was the day of the dancing horses. One would assume, I think, that dressage of all the dances would be something of a Waltz; elegance, poise and tranquility. Well, warming up Dell felt the need to experiment a little. I think we covered a rather wide range of moves – something perhaps between a Tango and a Foxtrot. I was riding like a plonker and could not for the life of me persuade Dell to do counter canter (to be honest I can’t say I really blame him – can’t be dealing with this cantering on the wrong leg malarkey), so flying changes seemingly added a little ‘character’ (?!) to our moves. Perhaps he was unleashing his inner fiery Spaniard? Next time I’ll find him a cape.
Nevertheless, on entering the arena I gave myself a serious mental kick, the main sentiments of which were “Pumbaa will you get you just get your act together”, admittedly some other words were included in said sentiments but let’s keep this PG. The Wonder Dun really pulled it out of the bag for me – one might even say he was the Anton Dubeck of the dressage arena: Waltzing to perfection (and not a flying change in sight!). He scored a rather tough 53, which left us in about 8th place going into the Cross Country.
The Cross Country course, built by Ian Stark, can only be described as typically Irish. i.e. ditch. Ditch. Ditch. Oh look, another Ditch. This made for tricky course walking – I’m the first to admit that I’m not exactly a creature of grace, but getting wedged on one of the open ditch fence was most definitely not my finest moment. That will teach me for trying to take short cuts – thankfully Dell tackled it with a little more panache than I managed.
It was a big, bold and galloping track – so it was, of course, unbelievable fun to ride around. Dell absolutely ate it up, making it feel extremely easy! Perhaps he was playing up to his home crowd?
Who knows, but either way he left me on such a high I don’t think you could have wiped the smile off my face that day if you had tried.
Later on the Friday we went on a little Irish excursion to a local dealer’s, who we had previously bought hunters off. Quite frankly it was madness personified – or should I say horsified? Fighting our way through a flock of sheep (in the middle of the yard) we were presented with the steeds of choice, on our search for a hunter for a close friend. Horse number one, was quickly dubbed Seamus. Though about 10 times wider than The Wonder Dun I absolutely adored riding him, and was extremely impressed with the way he dealt with the arena surface. If Dublin’s beaches are in short supply of sand I think we now know why. Their contents were put into this arena. I’m really not joking. At all. If you’d have given me a bucket and spade I would have felt quite at home making a sand castle in the corner with my new mate Seamus.
Horse number two appeared, walking out of the barn under saddle…and then quickly disappeared backwards at high speed. After being told ‘he’ll be grand’, the dealer also disappeared, later reappearing with both horse and jockey. After watching him for 5 minutes in the school this one was dubbed ‘Bucky’ – I’m sure you can guess why. Funnily enough I didn’t sit on that one. The rest of the horses were all 3 year olds, unbacked, which was more like window-shopping for us. The Irish certainly know how to turn out quality youngsters.
The Saturday, unfortunately was not to be. I think the long, galloping nature of the cross country took it out of Dell a little and consequently his Wonder powers were running on reserve energy. An incredibly frustrating end to our competition as he had been such a star all week but I suppose it wouldn’t be Eventing without the heady heights of the highs, and the crushing depths of the lows.
Exams are now upon us, I finish writing this blog having just taken my History exam – I figured I deserved a break, so please no finger wagging. If I wasn’t so tired (I got up at 5am for a 9am exam – whoever said cramming doesn’t work was wrong) I would be doing the Hula Hula with pompoms, coconuts and a ra ra skirt – any other suggestions would also be welcome – as I honestly can’t put into words how relieved I am to finally be done with joys of the Soviet Union!
I finish exams this coming Monday and then FREEEDOMMM! Hallelujah! Then next up for me is my first CIC** with The Wonder Dun at Barbury, home turf for us as it’s just across the road. SUPER excited.”
Until next time,
Watch Pumbaa’s video diary from Tattersalls: