After much deliberation as to whether the ground was going to hold up to 80 sets of skillfully shod hooves tearing it apart on Saturday, the drier days in the lead up to the event were a saving grace for all involved.
It was Thursday, dressage day 1 and packed and ready for the off, I made a 4 hour drive to the holy grail of British eventing. The place that every rider feels those goose bumps prickle as they make their way closer to the venue!! I was kindly offered a bed for the duration with my smashing friends and sponsors at Foxy Equestrian. This meant my temporary accommodation was only 20 yards from the shopping village and right in the middle of the action! Result!
A compulsory Pin and tonic on arrival and we headed over to the lakeside pavilion for drinks. This is an absolute must do for anyone visiting, it is people watching at its best as you see groups returning from the cocktail party in the main house looking somewhat less glamorous than when they arrived there!!
A quick pit stop for some snacks at a mobile bar on the way back to my sleeping quarters and by midnight I was tucked up in the warmth of the lorry for my first night.
At 5.30am I was woken by beaming sunshine and the Beaufort hounds crying out for their breakfast, you really cannot get annoyed at an early alarm that sounds so spectacular. I was also delighted to have my books on sale for the first time at Badminton!!! Phil at Equestrian Bookfair is touring all the shows this year and is lovely enough to stock my books!! Signed copies too!!
My Friday was jam packed, and lucky for me, having media accreditation meant I got to escape into the salvation of the media centre for a break from the chaos of my day! I enjoyed a cheeky photo shoot with the brilliant Stephen Bartholomew and then I visited my sponsors and people who have supported Pat and I through our journey so far.
I sat and poured my heart out to the lovely Sam at Haynet about my terror of eventing, she was so amazing to chat to!
I always have a ball with the chaps at Point Two and this was no different, the welcoming faces at Horse & Rider and the outstanding hospitality of Voltaire was where my day took a turn of the lubricated kind!!
It was on the Voltaire Design stand that I got dragged (kicking and screaming, of course) for lunch in the lakeside tent of Moorgate Finance… whilst tucking into canapés I met two brilliant new friends who encouraged (and perhaps I, them!) my engulfing of more prosecco than was probably necessary!
By 2pm I was “well oiled” and headed over for a meet up with some of the brilliant bloggers and photographers in the industry. (Sorry now if I forget anyone)
Leah of Training Cow Pony, Rachel of Eventful Eventing, Harry Swales (my chum from the Allstars), who were on a shoot with the super Nick from Events through a lens photography. Ruby of Equipepper, Hollie-Ella of In the country magazine, Tara of Tara Punter PR, Nikki from Life in the Saddle and her two lovely chums, the gorgeous Lizzie from Ponies and Prosecco, joined later by the lovely Danielle of Supernova we had an absolute ball!!!
I then headed over to see my friends at Patey/PROtector… NEWS FLASH ALERT!!! I will very soon be clad in beautiful new PROtectors helmets, I’m certainly going to need your help choosing that’s for sure!!!
After too much blueberry whisky from Ben and Josh (corrr those Scots know how to do hospitality!!) I staggered my way back to the lorry!!
What a day! Back at the lorry, Sophie, the owner of Foxy, cooked us dinner and we chatted and laughed until my sides hurt!! I fell fast asleep at 11pm only to be woken for Cross country day by the hounds once more!
SUNS OUT… SHORTS OUT!!
Saturday I spent the morning with my friends at Ariat on their marketing stand. The sun was beaming in, the crowds were building and I was seriously in my element!!
To add to my delight, fellow Voltaire and Point Two rider Oliver Townend was in the lead after dressage only slipping one place after XC, with Lincolnshire lass Ros Canter edging her way into third after a storming round on Allstar B!
Back at Ariat we were later joined by Mary and Emily King who were just lovely, as always and I met some seriously nice people who I shared selfies with and signed calendars for them to take home!!
I did an Instagram takeover and danced around the stand of beautiful boots which was just a dream come true!
At 1.30pm I set off 3 groups of Wimpy course walkers as understandably the stewards weren’t keen on a huddle of people on mass particularly in some of the bottle necks on course!!
I met the lovely Andrea of Mud on my Mulberry, and we walked and chatted and found ourselves back in the Voltaire lake side tent once more!!
Now, I was baked. I hadn’t drank more than one prosecco all day and so, caved in to my home sickness. I packed up and headed back for Lincolnshire that night!
I rigged up the laptop on the grass and watched several hours of XC footage followed by the last few rounds of showjumping to see the lovely Jonelle Price take the win, Oliver a very deserving 2nd (and 5th on his other horse) and Ros keep her spot in 3rd. Seeing a lady lift that trophy for the first time in 11 years was very super indeed!!
I went for a fab ride on Pat too and felt very lucky to have such a super horse and such great friends and family. Life is for living, take every opportunity it throws at you!
I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy…
A massive thanks to everybody that was so lovely, that came and said hello and that made my Badminton so special. To the organisers for such an amazing event, to Julian for allowing me in as Media this year and to all of the horses and riders for being so bloody phenomenal. You make our sport. Thank you.
Love as always