…all I wanted to do was smile and bring my horse home safe.
As you may have noticed I’ve now got two horses to compete, XC train, jump and school, and I have been working really hard riding at least 10 times a week to get them ready.
I woke up today for my first event more prepared than ever before and that really helped my nerves by at least 50% less terrified than usual!
We were on at midday, first to go in the BE90 with Pat which meant a not too antisocial set off at 9.30am. I was very nearly ON TIME! Plaited and on the road by 9.35am feeling pretty queezy, I did have to ban poor Daddy Carrot from shovelling last nights pizza into his face on route for fear of me dry heaving the whole 50 minutes to Epworth!
We arrived, got checked in and got stuck into a cheeky Bucks Fizz to settle the nerves. I will just add at this point that because I have changed Pat’s feed and calmer I was not one little bit worried about getting on him today!! This is a total game changer for us and I cannot thank the wonderful Dodson & Horrell and amazing Equine America enough for their advice, it’s all working so so well and has truly changed my riding life.
I got on and headed for the dressage. Then it happened…
The moment I have waited for for many years….
Ben Hobday wished me good luck on the way to the dressage!! I felt 12 years old and grinning like never before, strutted all the way to the centre line!
In the dressage warm up I felt so happy I could have burst! I wasn’t frightened, I wasn’t clinging on, I was HAPPY… truly happy for the first time in this situation. I can’t tell you all what this means to me to be able to write this.
In the ring, my new found confidence made me ride for the marks we deserved and he pulled it out of the bag for a mega 27 this sat us in the top 3.
Back to the box and a swift change for jumping, I was first in and had the painful wait for the course change over and disjointed warm up but never fear… because my amazing friend (bit ambitious there Vic ?), Ben came to the rescue yet again… he gee’d me up and even offered to go first but I was right there, warmed up and ready so I declined his kindness and rode for my life!!
It all f*cking came together… when does it ever do this?! It did today, he flew everything, I kept the canter forward, I looked for my lines and we WENT BLOODY CLEAR!!!! I don’t think I could have smiled more if I’d wanted to! My new Bff (?) Ben, also did a clear round! Double result!
Nerves hit me hard then. But XC changes made, we headed to the warm up. At this point I think my new BFF (did I mention this was Ben Hobday?) was turning into some kind of Wimpy guardian angel because he walked with me for several laps of the warm up whilst tactically diverting my impending tears…
i casually trotted off, jumped a few and we were in the start box of doom being counted down…
5,4,3,2,1…. out of the box just and a short stint to the first fence, a half roll top came and went like it was nothing, to number 2, a wooden house which he also seemed to just take in his stride… was this actually happening?! Was he finally growing a pair after 7 years…?
Don’t be stupid! A sticky jump at three, the rather plain looking bird house did not bode well for the spooky shavings bale trailer at 4.
It happened, fence 4… he grabbed the anchor and royal chucked it down, ground to a stop and kissed the f*cking jump!! REFUSAL. Blast! That was it, placing over, potential win; gone.
But, I wasn’t there for that. Yes it’s nice to get placed but that’s always secondary. I was there to help my horse, I was there to show him it’s ok, to add another layer of bricks to our confidence wall and that’s exactly what I did. I gathered him up, held his hand and coaxed him over on the second attempt.
Fence 5, a double with skinny sharks teeth… not a problem for him, he popped both very nicely. 6 was a set of rails that saw him grow in confidence again, but backing off at the chair at 7, I had to work hard to get him over to the safe side!
8 was a double of hedges which were also not that pretty to watch, he was just sticky, but he trusted me and went and that’s all Icould ask for. 9 was a big table which he jumped so well that it took my breath away! Huge pat and a yippeeeee and we were at the water… he popped the jump before it, splashed in and popped the jump out so so well I was bursting with pride again!!
Galloping down to 11, the pipes, he absolutely flew it and bounded down to the tractor at 12. Surprisingly, he absolutely pulled me into that! But backed off 13, a simple roll top and leapt the coffin much bigger than my unfit person was expecting!
Over 14 and down to two skinnies at 15… I thought they might cause us a bit of bother and he made me feel a fool, he popped them both so confidently that I couldn’t even see the last two jumps for the tears stinging my eyes.
Flying over the last fence, we were home safe and bursting full of happiness. I still can’t begin to put into words what this means. Every single time I put my leg on and feel that surge of power, I feel grateful that I have his willingness and his trust enough to do these things. He is some horse and everyday I feel lucky to be able to clamber onto his back and lose all sense of life outside of us.
Horses doing what we ask them is not a right, it is a remarkable privilege that you must earn and nurture, today was a day for nurturing.
On paper, we lost a regional final ticket with a very green mistake but in reality we won miles and miles of smiles, a new BFF, the look of pride on my husband’s face, the chance to meet so many nice people, but most of all I got to take my horse home and look at him as he mooched down to the trough as the sun set on our first event.
Thank you all so, so much for all your kind wishes and support. I often have another look through them all (in the loo usually!), you have no idea how much it helps.
Thank you all so much again… here’s to little Pea having a super day in the 80 tomorrow xxxxx