The (almost) last one – Norton Disney BE80

This is most certainly the hardest event report I’ve had to write all season. Even now, the morning after, I’m still so emotional about it…. it’s a sport, a hobby damn it!! Deep breath, Here goes….

We spent the week hacking, running through my test and the usual, nothing out of the ordinary and as we had stepped down to the 80 as a last confidence building run of the season, I didn’t stress too much that we hadn’t got out for a jump anywhere.

Now, I also entered the 80 because I am teaching all day today (Saturday) and Sunday’s I can’t really do (nerves, husband commitments), so it was either the 80 or the 100 on the Friday!!! Daddy Carrot ? took the day off and we trundled down to Norton Disney for our 1pm dressage and to walk the course beforehand.

The course was fine, we had loads of time too. We sat in the sunshine, just the three of us, drank tins of pop and I reflected on how lucky I felt…. LIES!!!! I sh*t my pants as usual!

WARNING!! GRAPHIC CONTENT ?
I warmed up with the most awful pain in my nethers… that one you get when you’re greeted by a sodding period the day before a show, the one that not only reminds you that you’re still not pregnant but also the one that means beige breeches are risking dark red leakage!!! The pain was from a very unfortunately positioned string, one that I couldn’t fix whilst on a horse and one that rubbed my skin so raw it felt like I’d been massaged by a cheese grater… anyway…. *ahem*…

I got on with it and in the ring, he was a total tit. I struggled to get him down towards the judges car and the struggled to hold him together as he wanted to run from it!! Either way, I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome and thought I deserved about a 33.

With the string issue resolved, I changed tack and warmed up for the jumping. This has been my absolute weakest area for years and whilst I can’t afford loads of training or many jumps to have at home, I’ve worked hard in my monthly lessons and practiced getting a good canter on the flat too.

In the warmup he felt a bit flat but I like that, “flat-Pat” doesn’t scare the living bejeezus out of me like “buzzy-in-the-ring-Pat” …. in we went and he brightened up somewhat. Instead of sh*t myself and cling on, I used the energy to push forward and he was flying. A positive canter makes the world of difference for us and it certainly did today… WE WENT F*CKING CLEAR!!!! ????

I properly welled up and felt seriously proud. My husband looked at me with that admiration I can’t even put into words. That, right there, that was the proudest moment of my 2018 season.

We also learnt that in a section of dressage scores in the late 30’s, by some miracle I was on a 29!!!! Putting us in first place…. by a solid margin.

No pressure!

Warming up for XC I didn’t feel too bad, looking back maybe I was a tad complacent but as with horses… you very quickly get reminded that you need to wake up and smell the roses…

He wouldn’t go down to the start box, Carrot pretty much had to lead him ? I nearly soiled myself right there.

But stop watch set off and we were away…

Not too bad a jump at the first, a wooden palisade shared with the 90. Down to another plain upright at two which he jumped ok too… I was very mindful of not going too fast, at the level we would be heavily penalised for our usual speed. Number 3 was the smallest log you’ve ever seen… he looked and nearly stopped so I really got after him! Dick!! And that’s where the wheels started to fall off.

He spooked at all the other jumps, some spooks were so exaggerated that I was left hanging half off and he got to fence 4 on the duffest stride because of looking at everything else that we nearly parted company. Fence 5 was a rail with a banner alongside and thank goodness I’ve had a banner up in the field at home because this was actually okay!!

We had a massive spook on the way down to number 6, a roll top just before a mound with number 7, a skinny hanging log on top. I focused on the three strides up to 7 in my approach, thinking ahead, being a good and well prepared rider… he put in the dirtiest stop ever at 6… the f*cking simple b*astard rolltop… it was bollock all to look at. I tried to kick him over, desperate not to have a 20 to add… I kicked, growled heaved… it was over, it was all f*cking over.

20 penalties, I represented and of course he jumped it like it was nothing!!! I’m so so f*cking disappointed. That was my win, I wanted it so much, I’ve never been bothered about a placing but today I felt utterly awful.

7 the hanging log jumped fine, he got a smack into 7b because I was gutted and because he was being a spooky little knob… I should have done that earlier because he jumped round the rest of the course like it was nothing!!! The bank at 10, hedge at 11, in the water and out of a skinny at 15/16… he answered every question right.

He spooked horribly at the last fence and I came through the finish with tears in my eyes. These were not tears of pride. They were tears of frustration, of disappointment, of all the hard f*cking work I’ve done to get his confidence up, all for nothing. I felt drained, I still do. My husbands face… he felt it too.

We walked back, washed him off and went to the scoreboard for a bit more torture… I’d had had a win, clear by nearly 10 points. I just wanted to go home.

Now in reflection, I feel stupid. I took my eye off the ball, I planned too far ahead, I didn’t do all I could have done. It was MY fault. It was not bad luck, it was bad judgment and bad reactions.

This sport can be won or lost in a split second and for everything to come together on one day is a pure miracle but…

We are progressing, we are getting better, we are still learning and I’m not disappointed anymore. He isn’t a push button pony, any one else would struggle to get him round the dressage for a sub 40 let alone a sub 30 or in the start box!! He is sharp, tricky and you have to make him think it’s all his idea… but that’s why I love him so much.

He’s not easy, but my word is he rewarding. We might have lost our first red one today but it was never really ours to start with and I will never think that way again, you don’t win just by getting the best marks. That might determine what colour piece of folded satin and cardboard you go home with but winning is empathy, understanding and education, and that’s all that really matters.

Horses are not machines, yet we use them for our enjoyment, what right do I have to be angry when he doesn’t act perfectly…? I also thought people would laugh at me for doing the 80 and not being up there in the placings too. But that’s another thing I need to stop thinking about!!

Learn learn learn… sums up this season for us. But it’s not over yet!!!! On the way home Carrot ? entered us in the 90 at Epworth on Saturday, my least favourite arena for jumping and the trickiest course XC that we’ve jumped… but we do need another run, we do need to use what we learnt today and not focus on the winning and just have a great time with my horse!!! ??

Lots of love as always
Vic and Pat xxxx

One thought on “The (almost) last one – Norton Disney BE80

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  1. Horses can be very grounding when we get ahead of ourselves. Yesterday I was at a Charlotte Dujardin masterclass and at the end of the press conference I spoke to her friend Ian. He said that horses always bring us back to reality and keep us focused on what is ahead not what has already happened. I love your photos and you have a wonderful smile.

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