So, a last minute entry into the 90cms Show-cross at Epworth Equestrian Ltd saw us power trotting around our regular hacking route last night in an attempt to tire out my keener that usual pony ready for the big day. Normally I like to get out somewhere but with time being tight, a decent hack would have to do.
Now, Pat was super forward at Shelford last week, jumping out of his skin and it frightened me a little bit. I wanted him to be a bit sluggish so I could manoeuvre him around a bit more with confidence before our next BE at Speetley on the 10th.
We walked the course and whilst it was super big and bold with a lot of fences shared with the 100, I didn’t feel too frightened and was ready to take the challenge on. After a good sweaty hack, I gave him a lovely bath last night, loaded the lorry, feeling very ready for our event today. For once, I felt ready, yes nervous, yes plagued with loose bowels and frequent toilet visits, but ready.
My times were 2.16pm and straight out on the XC for 2.45pm
Carrot and I loaded up at 12pm ready to arrive in lots of time to hopefully catch Auntie Smurph storm her first clear XC but alas, it was not to be…
The sound of my lorry was not how I left it… Carrot “borrowed” the Wimpy Wagon to pick up a new motorbike one evening last week and thought it sensible not to tell me the speedo had stuck 😳 and that the noises coming from him were not normal.. he wouldn’t have known but, there was an upset tummy of my poor WW in there somewhere.
I didn’t push him, just drove him at my usual Sunday driver speed and 10minutes away from home, I lost all power… in fact not just power, it became apparent that WWs innards had spilled out underneath his sexual body and were scraping along the tarmac…..
PANIC set in, I indicated and luckily pulled in at our local dairy farm just off the main road. WTAF. My heart was in shreads, my nerves frayed and with tears stinging my eyes, we phoned roadside assistance. My beloved Wimpy Wagon parked up with his innards on show for all to see. And in 25 degrees, my sweating pony on the back.
This is where karma repays you dividends… my lovely friend Kate and her mum were driving to the same show and were 2 minutes from us. They stopped in and even though fate was trying to delay my run today, I unloaded my boy and hopped him up onto Kate’s lovely lorry along with my essentials leaving Carrot 🥕 at the Wimpy Wagon waiting for the recovery.
On arrival, I felt ridiculously out of sorts, I was flappy, disorganised and with no grasp on time, found myself flapping about at the last minute. Not great! I warmed up and normally, the calmer syringe distributed on departure ready for the sharpness in the dressage warmup was almost certainly a mistake. He felt flat, lumpy and not very forward. I didnt feel scared though, which is a silver lining of course.
I’ve never had a smooth round at Epworth, they have a lot to look at in the way of fillers and banners and Pat is always a spooky little sh*t here. Today was NO different.
We went in, I got my canter WAY too late and managed to scrape over the first 3 fine, I turned left to the double at 4, put my leg on as he backed off (standard) and the little b*stard slammed the anchors on for the second part of a one stride double… this hasn’t happened in 6 years… he’s never just said no. But I watched the video back, I was up his neck, not really in a position of determination and I deserved it… it has definitely taught me to sit the hell up after a fence…
I circled and represented for him to try again, he jumped the first part and went to drop the anchors but this time I was cross.. I rode that jump and the rest of the course like it was XC. Determined, leg on, no second chances and we got round with a score of 12.
By Jove, I was exhausted and not feeling overly confident going XC now!!
I put my medical arm band on, offered Captain Spookerson a drink and off we went to warm up for the death phase.
I jumped a couple and went straight through to the start. I hadn’t studded up for this and what a massive mistake… he skidded a little into the first fence, looking at it like a turd… he jumped it but it felt horrid, the second wasn’t much better a roll top, he looked and thought about backing off but I nailed his arse and we scraped over.
Round a right hand bend to 3 a hedge and 4 the upturned boat, both jumped much better than I thought they would. A gallop down to the castle at 5 and he felt heavy, I also felt exceptionally out of breath and tight in the chest. I toyed with pulling up, there was still so much of the course to go, I just didn’t feel like I could get round.
I wanted to cry. I felt shit.
I don’t know quite what made me decide to carry on, but I found something from somewhere and came to the roll top and coffin at 6 with grit and a good kick, we sailed both and galloped down to the biggest fence on course, a big grey table… I hit a duff stride because of him backing off, again… but he jumped it just a bit backwards. Now, I rarely ever smack this horse, but we weren’t going to get round safely unless something changed. I thwacked him twice on the bottom and he pricked up down to the wishing well. 3 strides out he clocked the water which was straight after this fence and I screamed at him “help me out lad”… annoyed at being smacked, I obviously didn’t deserve his help and he stopped…. STOPPED, DEAD.
I smacked his bottom again, it was stupid, it was my fault, I was massively on the defensive and I asked for his help… no… that’s not the way it works!! He asks me for help, that’s our deal, not the other way around. I deserved that stop 100% and put it right behind me and kicked on, sailing it on the second attempt.
Over the big carrot table and up a bank to fly over some pipes and run back down, all rode fine. Then up over a wooden house to my only worry on the course, a log off a step with 4 strides to a skinny… well, I needn’t have worried, I did what I set out to, ignored the log, locked us on to the next fence and we flew them both no bother.
A gallop down to the wagon one from home and I really chased him in for a good confident finish, he sailed the last and we were home. Finally home, safe and well.
Now on paper it was the worst f*cking day I think I’ve had out competing EVER! My lorry exhaust somewhere on the A15, my Carrot stranded with the van, my disastrous show jumping fails and a stop on the course, but I felt elated with another beefy 90 under our belts. So what, one f*ck up is fine right?!
Something didn’t feel right, I didn’t feel right, I felt weak and lacking in muscular fitness. My brain wasn’t engaged and my stirrups were set 3 holes lower than normal by mistake. I felt like a wet weekend in Bognor Regis and it showed in my results.
Not everyday can be brilliant, not every run can be smooth, but it’s these testing ones that we learn the most from. I will NEVER ride like that again as long as I live, I will never let him down or smack him for my failings.
Today was a day for learning.
Thank you so so much to Kate and her mum for being there to pick us up and for being so kind, to my dear Smurph who stormed around her first clear 80 like she’s been doing it forever (I’m so so proud of them) and to my poor Carrot who I’m sure would have loved a hot dog at the show far more than waiting for a recovery man on the road side.
Now I need to get a new exhaust before Saturday and rest my drained body before dusting off and knuckling down in hope of picking up a Regional final ticket!
Thank you all for your endless support as always, sorry to have let you down today.
Love as always
Vic and Pat xxxxx