Well hello Ladies and Gents, it really has been a while. Where does the time go?! I suppose the short answer would be ‘sat on a horse’, but what would be the fun in that? With the university term over and done with, and exam season (very) firmly put behind us, I’ve had a really fantastic couple of months with my gorgeous ponios. This is the first season in a long while in which they are all still on 4 well-functioning legs, doing vaguely what they are supposed to be doing (having just written that I’m now running to find the nearest piece of wood to touch!).
When I last blogged I was in the midst of exams just before we left for Tatts. Admittedly going from a 3 hour Italian exam on the Thursday to a 2 star dressage test on the Friday was a bit of challenge, but I seemingly managed to get my behind in gear and set my mind to the job at hand. Sooty was absolutely awesome all week, pulling a lovely test out of the bag followed by a cracking double clear to finish 9th in the CCI**u25.
Though I write that like it is an everyday occurrence, it’s fair to say it could not be more rare. In his 16 years Sooty had never jumped a clear round show jumping above Novice level, so on landing after the final fence and realizing that all the poles were still in tact I let out a squeal that would easily put me in the running for the next ‘Babe’ film…quite impressive if I do say so myself.
Not to be out done by her stable mate, Ellie has also been putting some great performances in. Having taken the step up to Novice well in her stride her sass levels seem to have grown with her confidence.
After a lovely double clear at Nunney, a quick wardrobe change was on the cards as I had to head straight off to a friend’s Glastonbury themed 21st. It has to be said that walking across the lorry park dressed as Dolly Parton earned me a raised eyebrow or 50. After taking one look at my sequin bedazzled flares the withering glance Ellie gave me was enough in itself, she might as well have rolled her eyes and said ‘Mum, it really is time you and your wardrobe enter the 21st century you know’…teenagers these days, who’d have ‘em?!
Next up on the list was the beautiful Barbury Castle, where both horses jumped out of their skin, Sooty even managing another double clear in the CIC** to earn us our CIC*** qualification (EEP!).
Now, though I love Soots dearly (all 17hh of him), trying to hold him on a cross-country is not dissimilar from keeping a rather large bull contained in a rather small china shop. After coming home a few too many times feeling as though I had just Farah-ed my way round a marathon, I decided it was finally time to get the lycra out and the gym on. I know…drastic.
So currently, when I’m not on a horse, I’m in the gym, usually found on a rowing machine concentrating more on what is happening around me than the little screen in front of me. My latest discovery is that the ultimate people watching spot is the gym; from weird, to wonderful, to verging on disturbing, the variety of people is really quite incredible.
In many ways it’s just like the equine world: you have the all-the gear-no-idea gang who, in exchange for the world’s most expensive tack, have 20 different lycra outfits which probably cost as much as it does to feed a small third world country; there are the slightly embarrassed ones, who on a horse hide in the corner of the warm up only to come to a fence(/weight machine) and promptly be cut up by a professional.
Oh and those professionals…well there 2 breeds aren’t there? The smiley kind who you kind of fancy and admire from a far, and the snooty kind who have got a little too big for their boots/gym shorts that you secretly love to hate.
After having walked the course twice at Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing I would not be exaggerating if I said I was grateful for every stroke I had done on the bloody rowing machine. Sweet Lord…they described it has ‘hilly terrain’, frankly after the 3rd time I trudged upward I was fairly convinced it was verging on Himalayan.
That said, all systems were go and brave pants were firmly on seeing as it was mine and Sooty’s first Advanced – and what a place to do it! Though he did a lovely test he lost marks on his flying changes; his approach to them is similar to my approach toward dieting – a lot of reluctance and ultimately point-blank refusal. The show jumping was sizeable to say the least (as was the crowd), but even so he tried his heart out for me just touching an unfortunate rail (cue more piglet-worthy squealing).
Honestly, our cross country round has to be the highlight of my eventing career thus far – he made even the toughest combinations feel like a walk in the park. I have, however, always enjoyed taking my time in life whether I am on a horse or not, so I came home with a fairly impressive 37 time faults…if Jonelle Price is the fastest event rider in the world, does that make me the slowest?
As I write, we are 250 miles in to our 500 mile trek to the wonderful Blair Castle International Horse Trials. After a 4 shot cappuccino I’m doing everything I can to not vibrate out of my chair, and there is an impressive collection of empty dried-mango bags strewn across the cab…we have also just realized what dried fruit does to the body, tonight could be uncomfortable…!
Fingers crossed we have a fun week, and preferably one without too much rain too; I may have packed 12 waterproof coats but I really wouldn’t mind if I don’t have to use them all!
Until next time,