So after the massive high of being in the ribbons at our first Eventer Challenge back in January, I am happy to report that we have remained in the ribbons ever since…until last weekend !
We have now competed at three Pre-Intros, and after the highlight of coming 6th at the first one, I was slightly apprehensive about going through it all again! Would my rookie luck hold out?! Pony Mad Daughter (PMD) had still to bring home a rosette and the challenge was on ! I have recently joined the brilliantly supportive Facebook group #Twitter Eventing. No question is unanswered (however rookie), advice is plentiful and the group have been very friendly and welcoming and have really spurred me on to keep going.
On a freezing February morning, we made the 10 minute journey to Aston-Le-Walls. I wasn’t feeling particularly up for it after quite a late night and had a dull headache to contend with. However, it was PMD’s turn to go first and the annoying joker jinxed her…again! She flew round the course stride perfect and was beaming from ear to ear as she approached the final fence. And she stopped…twice! We put it down to last fence-itis, but it was so sad for her to get double penalties when she had done so well.
Always good to take these things on the chin, she wished me good luck and watched from her pony as we entered the ring. I really wasn’t in the zone but it was an OK round, I went clear, which I was thrilled by but felt really slow and wonky the whole way round. After untacking we headed for some much needed food to find it was only the hot drinks stand this time.
Luckily the giant marshmallows in the hot chocolate softened the disappointment and we headed back to the lorry, popping in to say a quick hello to Jodie Amos. As I chatted away, I heard a gasp from the office next door and PMD came running out to tell me I had won! Before you ask, there were other people in the class! Sure enough I was the winner and was handed not only a wonderful frilly but a schooling voucher and a
rather fine Equestrian Direct saddlecloth. Speechless, I texted our trainer, Robert Snaddon, who replied with a very kind “told you so” message.
Two weeks later and we were back again! As we course walked, Tom, who runs the events at Aston, let slip that PMD had been spot on the optimum time the time before, and had she not stopped at the joker, she would have beaten me! I was so pleased for her as she is desperate to beat me! She was all the more determined to get a clear this time. However it was very icy and not only did the joker works its evil again for her, but she had an annoying stop at the pheasant feeder before the water. It was so slippery and I think her pony was looking after her to not attempt it at speed. They did a circle, trotted over it and finished with 12 penalties this time. Still no ribbon. I had a very unusual and annoying pole down on the second fence but cleared the joker so finished in 6th. Whilst I was thrilled to keep the ribbons coming in, it was hugely frustrating and I felt like a spoilt child but soon snapped out of it when I saw PMD eyeing up the rosette.
I had been thinking about trying an Intro having done 3 Pre-Intros with little trouble and continuing my rookie challenge. The ditches, steps and corners had worried me but I couldn’t stay at Pre-Intro for ever. As it turned out, there wasn’t a ditch and the corner and the step down were all fine. PMD did the 80cm again and flew round. She was so excited to get a clear having gone brilliantly at the Grafton Hunt PC Show Jumping at Addington over half term. She had been in a team that finished 2nd with all 4 going clear. She was also quietly pleased that I was in a different class this time! But lo and behold the sodding joker caught her out again. However, she did finish 8th AND GOT A ROSETTE!
This was a huge result as we had had to contend with some superstitions that morning. Fully decked out in our gorgeous new XC colours from Charles James Fox, we were informed that it was extremely unlucky to wear new gear at a competition. Luckily the crew at #TwitterEventing reassured me that all would be fine. However, PMD decided to ‘do’ something in her gear before the competition just so she would know that they weren’t brand spanking new for her round. An hour before we were due to set off, screams errupted from the garden and I discovered she had been breaking in her new colours by doing somersaults on the trampoline and had kneed herself in the face – quite badly. Her eye blew up instantly and purples hues started to appear. I went upstairs and changed my clothes! Their day would come!
The height in the Intro actually suited my horse better and she had a much better rhythm. I still find it very amusing hearing our names on the tannoy and had a bit of a chuckle as I heard Tom call me a trailblazer! Anyway, it was a great round! We felt a bit speedier with longer galloping sections, managed the log up, the step down, the water was deeper and we had to navigate round a jump and then it was the scary corner. Well we pinged over it! I hadn’t needed to worry! I felt like we were flying! One to go, the joker (!), and we were home – except we clipped it and in slow motion as everyone cheered, it rolled to the floor! GUTTED ! 8 penalties!
As it transpired, we hadn’t been that speedy after all and finished 13th. I was so happy to get round our first Intro but I think my competitive nature from my school days has re-emerged and I was quite grumpy!
So it was PMD who bought home the ribbons this time – and my goodness, she deserved it ! Where our next adventure takes us is a bit up in the air but onwards and upwards and maybe, more ribbons, but definitely buckets more fun!
With these fantastic facilities on our doorstep, it has been one of my easiest decisions, since launching TGP last year, to support the incredibly hard working team at Washbrook Farm. I am delighted to announce that The Gaitpost is now an Associate Sponsor of all horse trials at Aston-Le-Walls so look out for our banners and more news about our involvement will be coming soon.
Thanks to Henry at 1st Class Images for the photos.
Check out #twittereventing on Facebook – you will wonder how you ever lived without them!