Over the winter months I have been prepping for the season by spending the majority of my weekends at either BSJA or BD shows, and while of course it’s lovely to get the horses out, it inevitably comes with the many bafflements we eventers encounter when we venture out of our own happy bubble. With BSJA come the classic ‘why is everything covered in diamantes?’, ‘Why has this 90s music been playing on repeat for the last 3 hours?’ and ‘where are all the tweed jackets?’. BD similarly raises questions pertaining to the amount of sparkle around, as well as, of course, ‘I can see my face in their riding boots. How is that even possible?’. Nonetheless, despite spending said weekends in this state of bafflement (nothing really new there anyway), they were great prep for the start of the season and both horses are feeling on top form.
First up for me this season was the lovely Gatcombe with Sooty in the Intermediate. As always seems to be the case for me the first event of the year brings with it a case of the ring-rusty jitters. Packing the lorry is double triple checked, God forbid the cross-country boots are forgotten – or worse yet; the black tape. 5 different copies of the dressage test are printed off ‘just in case’, and the picnic is cling filmed, labeled and basket-ready for the morning. Of course this level of organization deteriorates at a rapid pace as the season progresses, but it’s nice to try and get it all right once, living happily in the illusion that we all know exactly what’s going on.
Not only was this my first event of the season, it was also the first event ever for my long-suffering boyfriend Ollie. As I dragged him round the course walk various poor explanations were given on my part, and so he took matters into his own hands in his effort to understand the whole situation: ‘so basically, it’s like a GCSE maths paper: it starts off really easy, and then gets more and more difficult.’ I mean…in a nutshell, yes. Giving credit where credit is due he navigated the whole situation very well, tagging happily along with Dad who gave him a daylong lecture on Brexit. No doubt he’ll be in hurry to come again.
Anyways, 200 words later and I promise I will actually get to the point. As soon as Sooty heard the commentary from the lorry it was like someone had flicked a switch, and he turned into a vibrating ball of excitement. Coming off the lorry like a very large, very over enthusiastic, raging bull I was convinced our dressage test was primarily going to be an exercise trying to keep him in the arena. Fortunately once I got on board he put his work hat on and put in a great performance for a score of 31. He then put in 2 great jumping rounds, just touching a pole show jumping and coming home with some time cross country, leaving us just outside the top ten.
The gorgeous Princess Ellie has also had her first event of the season, competing in the 100 at Ascot Under Wychwood. This little mare is a completely different horse this year…she is now a seriously sassy lady. Last season a bomb could have gone off in the next field and Ellie would have continued happily trotting around in circles without batting an eyelid, and this year…well, someone sneezes and I find myself on the other side of the field quicker than you can say ‘bless you’.
Even so, she really came into her own at Ascot, relishing the opportunity to show off her newfound strength and muscle. She did a sweet, workman like test for 32.8 followed by a cracking double clear. She is such a special little horse, and the fact that she is a homebred makes it all so much more personal and rewarding…I don’t think you could ask for a better temperament in a mare, her willing attitude is second to none – I think Mum sometimes wonders how she managed to breed a horse like that, but not a daughter…
University wise I’m still learning foreign words like it’s going out of fashion and grammar exercise galore. Well, I mean that’s what I’m supposed to be doing anyway. My exams start at the end of May, with the last one being on 1st June…the Thursday of Tattersalls. So my sneaky plan, providing the secretary will give me a Friday dressage, is to do the exam, leg it to Bristol airport, hop on a plane to Dublin and meet the team out there. Genius? I think so…
Well, that’s all from me for now. Hope you’ve all had a good Easter. As I write it is Sunday evening and I’m so full of Easter egg and turkey (we’ve always had an Easter turkey for lunch, apparently that’s weird but frankly you’re all seriously missing out), that I think the horses may in fact mutiny tomorrow…I’ll be going to the yard armed with extra bribery polos!
Until next time,