A tale of two halves! – Our BE90 DEBUT!!

So, the morning of my much anticipated trip up to Aston Le Walls for our step up to BE 90, crept up far faster than I could have ever imagined.  I’m pretty sure it left me a little flabbergasted and unprepared, but consequently less panicking time for sure! The times came out and that’s when I really felt it.  I was seriously scared this time.  Not even about the event but about the overhaul to travel the furthest I have been to an event, stabling my precious boy over night somewhere new and then remembering what the bloody hell I am meant to be doing when I get there!!

We set off at 10.30am, packed and frightened.  I do remember thinking, far more than once; ‘is it unacceptable to neck this whole bottle of port before 11am?’ – probably!! It poured with rain the WHOLE way… assume foetal position and begin rocking at the thought of running XC in a slurry of mud from the 3 sections of the 90 running before mine!! Bright bloody sunshine and not a dribble of the wet stuff on the grounds of the beautiful Aston Palace!

My trusty sidekick, Lisa had been a sneaky beaky and arranged for us to have a little mini lesson with the one and only, Nigel Taylor.  Unbeknown to me, this guy has done 15 Badmintons and here he was babying us round a series of frigging twigs in comparison!  [email protected] horse was spooking and jinking at everything, making me look like a true professional HA!… KNOB!!! Bugger it… what will be will be!! Ponies tucked up in their overnight accommodation and us into our plush spa hotel avec Jacuzzi – we got an early night ready for a 6.30am alarm.


Alarm… Don’t be bloody daft, when you are trembling enough to wake the dead at 5am, who needs an alarm!! Dressed, wreching bile and pale faced, we headed to the yard to get ready for the impending and almost certain death of the day ahead.  Poor Lisa – I think it’s possibly catching – mildly contagious if nothing else – she was struggling to plait through the pain of her broken finger (curtesy of a fall at Tweseldown) and trembling hands – team work ensued!! All plaited and ready, we loaded up and off we went, both of us ready to turn for home!!

My dressage was 9.49 – I was trialling a new calmer today– Equine America Super So Kalm Paste?! – I should have took it myself, Pat was the calmest he had ever been in a dressage warm up in what felt like -5 degrees!! Arse, Crap, Bum flaps… I’m being called in… Literally needing a poo just re-living it!! Well, what an anti-climax, It was FINE… again, nothing overly to write home about – I’m struggling to really know what the BE judges expect from the dressage phase as this is barely a Prelim and I’m getting near on 75 at Novice and mid-high 60’s at Elementary and still only a 33 today?! Still, we live and learn.

Boots on, stirrups up and off to the SJing! Warmed up the same as Littleton, a couple of pingy jumps and off we went down to the arena.  WELL what a bloody joke!!! Came up to number one, a rustic oxer with a ray of light shining on half of it, Pat wasn’t looking or paying attention and spooked at the light just at the last minute, resulting in a bloody great kick from me which sent the back rail into orbit. 2- A simple upright, washing lines and disorganisation meant we had that one as well.  He HATES touching poles so was exceedingly upset now – 3 he literally breathed on the back rail this time and it fell!!! 4 – spooked like a retard!!! Literally, two very small flowery fillers combined with the earlier upset meant another unwanted kick up the arse and landed another pole.  Got our act together for the rest and jumped 5 through to 10 without too much hassle! WHAT A BLOODY ARSING BUMMER!!! I was very sad with a 16. Very sad indeed, he’s a great little jumping horse and I felt he was unprepared and I didn’t think about the canter, the turns, the striding NOTHING – Nerves took over and apparently the autopilot switch is far too close to the ‘ride like a retard’ switch.


Back at the box, I had 20 minutes to change, smoke 4 cigarettes and drain two glasses of Champagne before we had to go warm up for the death phase.  I gulped as I saw the other riders in the warm up looking very bold and nowhere near as green in the face as me.  4 starters and I was up… being counted down is possibly my worst nightmare, it’s like being walked through the paces on the plank before you’re thrown over-board.  Off we went – over the first and through a bridge gap in the hedge to number 2, he spooked – I smacked! Number 3 he spooked like a good un’, lost my stirrup at 4 – [email protected] – I felt all over the bloody place!! LITERALLY felt like I was going to die at any moment!!  6 was the water, got my stirrup back and started flying… 7 A and B; up and down the steps to a house for C – BRILLIANT… 8 I was worried about – looked a bit big to me… he stood right off and we embraced the beloved FLIER……


9, 10, 11 a double with the second bit a skinny, no dramas, 12, 13 – a skinny log to coffin – bloody flew it – didn’t even look!! GOOSEBUMPS ALL OVER ME RIGHT NOW!!! To the flying finish of an angled brush – WE’RE HOME and more importantly ALIVE!!!! What a bloody horse!! Utterly redeemed ourselves to end our BE season FLYING clear inside the time at 90!!!


Looking back, I am still miffed about the 4 poles, still questioning the rationality of a 33 dressage but absolutely, 100% beaming over the fact that this little horse has done a grand total of 3 XC rounds in his life and this one my friends, was un-bloody-believable!! I’ve said it before and I will bang the same drum until my arms fall off – I LOVE MY ABSOLUTE LEGEND OF A HORSE now and forever more, AMEN!!!!

Vic Brant

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