Saturday 27th of May 2023
Pumbaa Goess-Saurau

Pumbaa, The Gap Yah Eventer, Part 9

Well hello again guys and gals, I hope you’ve all been keeping well, it’s been a while to say the least. As the title of this blog may have given away I am currently on my Gap Year, the first 6 months of which I’ve been off exploring the world and the second 6 months of which I am now ponying full time.



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Credit: Blackheart Images

Credit: Blackheart Imagery


Mickey and I flying at Gatcombe

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Princess Eliie


Enjoying a knees up at Weston


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Future star: Woody

To get you up to date with where I am though I’m going to have to fill you in with a little ‘incident’ I had at the end of January. I put ‘incident’ in inverted commas, but I think maybe really it should be the ‘little’.

Cut a long story short I crashed my car (quite comprehensively) and came out a little battered and broken. By some small miracle I managed to come away with just a broken collarbone and concussion. But hey, what’s a Gap Year without a life threatening moment or two?

Getting fixed

Since then it’s been a long road to recovery…a road with swings, roundabouts, twists, turns and bumps a plenty. I’ve had whiplash turn my neck into something that closer resembles a noodle than a piece of my anatomy. I’ve had my entire right shoulder go into spasm turning me into something closer resembling old Quasimodo from Notre Dame than a teenage girl.

Finally, I’ve also had the pin put in my collarbone try to work its way out on its own accord…that one thankfully just required a surgeon and no transformation occurred.

As an active person the frustration that comes with not being at full-functioning capacity is enormous. It’s very easy to take for granted small mundane tasks that we go about daily, especially with horses since there are so many of them we do without a thought.

No pain, no gain

Throwing a rug on, lifting a water bucket, brushing some mud off their neck which they’re determined to not to let you reach – all things that, no matter how hard I tried, were completely impossible. At one point, I physically couldn’t get into the lorry and while there were tears of laughter they were certainly mixed with those of frustration too…what can I say?

I’m a girl, and a teenage girl at that, crying is part of the package (particularly when your dosed up to your eyeballs with all kinds of funky painkillers).

Nearing the summit

Of course, as with most injuries healing is just a matter of time and gradually things began to give. The first time I managed to put a saddle on, I had such a sense of achievement I might as well have just climbed Everest.

Jumping the horses was also an incredible feeling, particularly when it didn’t hurt! Fighting against anything is never much fun, but when the principal opponent is your own body it makes things even trickier, that being said it also makes the victory that much sweeter.

Two operations, 200 back appointments and numerous tears and tantrums later and I am now officially back in business! Admittedly telling my Doctor that we would have to delay my second operation by a week so I could compete at Gatcombe earned me the all too familiar ‘you-know-it-really-isn’t-a-good-idea-to-ride’ speech, but equally my ‘nice-try-buddy-but not-gonna-happen’ glare told him that he was fighting a losing battle…so Gatcombe it was.

So, I’ll stop rambling about my shoulder woes now and actually get round to telling you about the eventing. Falling on Easter Weekend Gatcombe, as ever, was a fantastic event – and fortunately no stonewalls were harmed in the process of my lorry driving this time (phew!).


Mickey did a lovely test of 27.5 followed by a cracking the double clear in the ON to finish 4th. I think perhaps in a former life he may have been a plough horse, the mud really didn’t seem to bother him and he just trooped on oblivious. The Wonder Dun did a good test too however unfortunately they abandoned before we jumped.

These days it seems most people jump on the very angry bandwagon when events are cancelled or abandoned, and I of course understand their frustration; you make a season plan and when the weather doesn’t cooperate it makes things pretty tricky.

Stiff upper lip

Nevertheless these decisions aren’t taken lightly by event organisers, something I think people tend to forget and I think it’s time to cut them all some slack and show them some appreciation. Let’s face it, England is seemingly trying to channel some distinctly Indian vibes…not a tiger or curry in sight but enough monsoon showers to question whether our little island will ever see the summer sun, so a round of applause to all the volunteers/organisers/land owners that soldier on trying to make our crazy sport feasible!

Most recently I was at the wonderful Weston Park, where Mickey again pulled it out of the bag to win! Seeing as just over a year ago we thought his event career was over and just over a month ago I couldn’t put a bridle on let alone sit on a horse I think it’s fair to say that I was completely ecstatic.

Eventing is a tough sport, one that seems to have a habit of knocking you firmly on your backside, but when it does all come together I can honestly say I don’t think there is a greater feeling in the world.

Grumpy pony

The poor Wonder Dun had a repeat performance of Gatcombe and despite putting a cracking test in to leave us 4th in the OIu21 they abandoned before he could jump.

We consequently came home with a thoroughly disgruntled yellow pony on the lorry…I fear that our first run cross country may be a little lacking in control (well control on my part any way, I’m in no doubt that the Wonder Dun will be taking charge on this one!).

At home I now how 5 horses in including my 2 Wonder Ponies. The other 3 are all babies, a 4 and 5 year old who are both homebreds and a 6 year old with a rodeo complex. I’m so enjoying having the homebreds in, particularly the 5 year old; Princess Ellie!

She’s turning out to be quite the little super star and I can’t wait to start competing our first homebred event horse. She is the 6th foal out of my mum’s beloved national hunt mare and as such has been called Six For Gold!

So, that’s me for now. Life is ticking merrily on and if I’m not out eventing then I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find me doing a sun dance somewhere. Admittedly I’m no expert in weather dance practice but Google is a wonderful place…I’m sure it will be able to advise.

Until next time,

Pumbaa x

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