As I sit here writing this I am currently munching my way through a punnet of strawberries and a glass of wine (I’d happily take a punnet of the latter too but apparently that isn’t an option), having just finished a week of exams. That aside I also have lots to tell you in the way of the lovely ponios too…now are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…(and frankly if you’re not, I’m going to start anyway, I should technically be revising Italian grammar right now and your faffing is not helping with my verb conjugation, is it?).
It is fair to say that these past few weeks have put my juggling skills to the test…I think I may have it cracked now though, so if all else fails with the degree/pony prancing then it’s going to have to be the circus. Exams combined with horses are a little like oil and water, or in eventing terms like eventers and bling: they don’t mix and it’s not pretty. The lorry is no longer strewn with hair nets, dressage tests and the occasional lonely glove, but with my various revision notes. French grammar, Italian grammar, French history, Italian art…you name it, I got it. What I don’t have is my life under control, particularly since it’s currently buried under a mountain of paper.
However, before the examing kicked off I did have a couple of relatively peaceful events. Ellie has had a great couple of runs at Bicton, Moreton Morrell and Mount Ballen, she’s coming on with every event now and I’m so excited for the future with her. As is sometimes the case with youngsters though, there is often a stage in their life which is a little dominated by attitude (I see the parents of you out there nodding sagely…I’m told this issue is not limited to just horses).
Well this little lady has now got some serious SASS…as in she would happily pop on some heels and a leotard, find some backing ponies and fully channel Beyoncé herself. Her jumping technique has improved so much but it seems she now feels that the 100s are a little beneath her station – so her show jumping is either spot on or just a touch blasé, it’s almost like she’s insulted we haven’t given her more to do. In response to the sass she is now entered for her first Novice at West Wilts.
King Soot has been on top form too, happily strutting his stuff and pulling my arms out. I rode him like a complete plonker in the show jumping at Bicton…who knows why? I suppose we are all susceptible to bad days and this was one of mine. That said, in the long run it was probably the best thing that could have happened for us. It not only gave me a proverbial kick up the backside, but it also prompted us to change his biting. So now my derrière is fully in gear and Sooty is very much enjoying (and respecting) his Pelham.
Withington was our first trial run with the new bit and it worked an absolute treat – bar a marginally embarrassing moment in the dressage: Sooty got his legs in a bit of a knot in his turn on the haunches and promptly nearly fell over, hopefully that’ll teach him to focus on me rather than the man in the high-vis jacket 5 fields away. He redeemed himself later, absolutely jumping out of his socks in both phases. He touched one unfortunate rail show jumping and then came home with just a handful of time faults cross country, meaning we finished just outside the top 10 (a slightly irritating recurring theme this year!).
Sadly from this point onward we had entered the dark, dark period of revision, extreme procrastination and exam meltdowns. As life goes I’m generally quite a relaxed person, few things really ruffle my feathers, but where exams are concerned I’ll be lucky to make it out with any feathers at all (obviously metaphorically speaking, I can confirm that I am not a bird). And so, French grammar in lap, 160 miles on the clock and probably lacking in some of these metaphorical feathers, we set off for the lovely Rockingham Castle for the CIC**. Rockingham has always been a favourite of mine, but as our journey progressed and the rain only grew heavier admittedly I did question our sanity more than a few times.
As we pulled into the show ground on the Thursday afternoon a small British miracle occurred: the sun came out. I know, Jesus made wine from water, and all our little island can seem to manage is a few measly UV rays…I mean seriously? Train on. Anyways, I digress. Sooty strutted his stuff in the sunshine, producing a lovely test, unfortunately he was enjoying himself so much that he struggled to contain himself in the walk…I use the term ‘walk’ here loosely seeing as it didn’t really happen (whoops).
Having asked for a miracle I think the man upstairs thought he’d pull a funny one that night: the heavens officially opened. Now, our lorry is a trooper, she does the job and gets us from A to B, however, she does have the odd issue…number 1 being a roof that isn’t entirely fully functioning. We got a little soggy. And when I say soggy I’m not talking April showers damp, I’m talking Indian monsoon drenched. So the following night we came up with a cunning plan, cunning as fox…a fox in the possession of an inordinate amount of duct tape.
Every nook and cranny was covered in enough tape to patch up the Titanic, so we thought our work was done. But no, not even close. Our taping, though successful, had basically created a drainpipe, meaning we’d also created a steady, constant drip. But would this defeat us? Of course not, eventer turned plumber, my trusty duct tape and I set to work again, with the help of a salad bowl (obviously). Let’s just say we slept happy and dry that night: call me Genius (or Plumber Extraordinaire, I’ll answer to either).
Sooty battled the mud the following day, jumping 2 superb rounds, just rolling a pole show jumping and picked up a few time faults cross country meaning we finished just outside the top 20 in a very hot section. Needless to say it was the perfect prep run for his next outing: TATTS! The excitement is uncontainable. That said, I do have an exam on the Thursday of Tatts, meaning my amazing team are taking Soots out there, and I’ll be going from the exam hall to the airport to get there in time…could be interesting.
Hope those of you going through the exam grinder make it out unscathed (and with at least a shred or 2 of sanity still intact…I know I’m struggling!).
Until next time,