Well, hello again you lovely human beings, it’s been a while! So…I have a little inkling of relatively important news:
I GOT INTO UNIVERSITY!
My grades, ABB in English, History and French respectively, met the offer of my first choice university; Bristol. As I’m sure many of you are aware opening results is a very stressful experience. Parents hovering. Sweaty palms. Repeated refreshing. Or, that’s how it should be.
It just so happened I was home alone on results morning. So, my alarm was set for 7.55, and with the results released at 8.00 I brushed my teeth and then BAM: Dream fulfilled; I was into university.
Having blown that bombshell, I went on with my day. And as I sat alone (sniff) downstairs, eating a yoghurt, I realized that the last 2 years of my life had been building up to this moment: Mango and passion fruit yoghurt in hand, dog on lap and the morning news on the tube. Lord help me!
The very same day we set off for Aston Le Walls with The Wonder Dun for the OIu21. Dell went really well, pulling off a super test followed by a double clear. Highlight of the day had to be ALW’s very own music festival – talk about bringing eventing into the 21st Century. Round of applause in order I feel.
In other news, I have recently started working at a racing yard. Barbury Castle based Alan King, is on our doorstep, so it’s ideal as waking up any earlier that 5:50am would be just inhumane.
It is also like stepping into a new world. For anyone considering riding out, which I would definitely recommend, know that they use a whole new vocabulary.
Here are 3 things I learnt the hard way:
Racing Jargon 1: ‘He’s a bit keen.’
Eventing Translation: ‘He’s going to pull your arms out of your socket. Good luck with that.’
Racing Jargon 2: ‘He might be a bit fresh.’
Eventing Translation: ‘It’s been nice knowing you.’
Racing Jargon 3: ‘Monday Fresh’
Eventing Translation: ‘The horses had Sunday off. Today they fancy themselves as four legged Pogo Sticks – hold on to your neck strap like your life depends on it. Because it does.’
Since my last post, I also competed at the beautiful Wilton House. On the first day I had Mickey there in the novice. A bit of a dodgy dressage test was made up for by a foot perfect clear show jumping, cross county however, the jockey had what I like to call a ‘cognitive failure’ – i.e. I was a moron.
Seeing as Mickey isn’t exactly the sharpest pencil in the pot I have to be very on the ball, I’m always having to think 10 steps ahead for him. So when we came into a fence that had the option of choosing one side to jump, and I panicked and changed my mind 10 strides out, unsurprisingly he didn’t understand my idiocy and had no idea what to do at the fence.
Day 2 saw Reebee in the OIu21 – our first intermediate together. Mum, thinking she was being clever, bet me £50 that we wouldn’t score a sub 35 test. I’ve always enjoyed proving people wrong, and turns out Reebs does too: 34.7. In the bag.
Show jumping he had a lazy 2 poles, since he’s done so much he doesn’t always respect the height. Then cross country he absolutely ate up the course. For a horse that flies side ways at a million miles per hour spooking at a pile of feathers, I was a little surprised that he didn’t bat an eyelid when faced with a bright blue, and fluorescent green pair of tortoise. If someone could please explain a horse’s logic to me I’d be most grateful.
Most recently we were at the lovely Gatcombe with all 3 of the boys. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with horses, luck was stacked against us on day 1.
To kick things off I may have given our lorry a rather brutal introduction to the entry gatepost and wall. Hmm. Having passed my HGV test just 4 days before, it’s fair to say that I have not started my trucking career well. I couldn’t find any old wall to crash into. No. It had to be a royal one!
What I find slightly concerning is that Princess Anne, amazing lady that she is, has THE most amazing memory. When she gave me Mickey’s prize she asked me how long I’d had the horse, ‘2 years’ I said. She replied, ‘well you’re clearly getting on much better with him now aren’t you?’
The last time I had him at Gatcombe we parted company across the country, so she couldn’t have been more right. My worry is that next year she’ll say ‘Ah, I see my gatepost is still standing – well you’re clearly getting on much better with that lorry now, aren’t you?’
Friday saw both Mickey and Reebee compete in the Intermediate. Reebs was first up, and while parts of his dressage were really quite respectable, his incredible (if slightly unhelpful) talent for impersonating a Giraffe in the walk let us down for a score of 39. He then lowered 2 coloured poles, one my fault and one a result, again, of his excellent Giraffe like qualities.
He doesn’t appreciate being checked in a related distance, and he certainly doesn’t keep quite about it either. I’ve tried to tell him that head butting his jockey isn’t acceptable, but I don’t think he cares.
Cross country however, he absolutely nailed it! He is such a pleasure to ride around the bigger tracks because he reads the questions so quickly that by the time we get to the fence it feels like he’s already walked the course!
Dell did some of the best work he’s ever done warming up for the dressage, so I got a little over excited and over rode his test meaning he went slightly tense on me. A shame, but he still managed a respectable score of 33. Show jumping, again, we had 2 irritating poles. Then cross country we had a miscommunication issue – Dell jumped in big into a treble of curving rails, I pulled him to the right to try to make the distance easier for him, but he misunderstood and tried to go up the tree line. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt.
Nonetheless The Wonder Moose saved the weekend the following day! Things started out much better when I left the gatepost and wall standing on entry. The stewards looked both relieved and slightly terrified. Okay, perhaps a little more than slightly.
Mickey pulled an outstanding test out the bag for a pretty posh score of 28.5. Next up he jumped a beautiful clear show jumping. Apparently this was all down to my father’s stellar advice given just before I got on: ‘Okay Pum, you now have to jump a clear. To do that you have to leave all the poles up.’ Thank you Dad, constructive as ever.
Cross country Mickey absolutely flew! Not only did he jump a super clear but he was also in the time – a major feat for my boat of a horse. He finished 4th in a competitive section and we also won the Best Under 21 prize, so we definitely ended on a high.
Once again I was given a real reminder of ‘the highs and lows of horses’ – fortunately in this instance we had the ever illusive high.
Currently we are in Waregem, Belgium with both The Wonder Dun and The Wonder Moose. Putting it into words has me at somewhat of a loss. On arrival we were directed to our campsite: I’d call it a patch of grass but that would be generous. It’s more mud puddle-esque. The Wonder Dun is not entirely convinced by Belgium either – a building being demolished next to the dressage arenas (as well as a donkey stable) being of particular exception to him.
However, I think the main issue of the week is going to be the shower situation. The Europeans are clearly a little more ‘footloose and fancy free’ than us Brits. The showers are communal. Lorry park chat has taken a turn for the concerned and many of us are now in training as bouncers. One stands at the door, the other takes over all 5 showers to wash in record time. It’s impressive.
Fingers crossed all goes well, it’s my last event of the season as I’m off travelling next week! Let’s do this!
Until next time,