Sunday, 29 June 2014

Turning dreams into reality

Part of me still can't quite believe I am writing this update... Yesterday Buddy and I completed our first event. It has been a long journey to get to this point and I have definitely taken it slower than I needed to (in terms of soundness) and, if I'm totally honest, part of me never expected to get here. To complete an event has been the holy grail of returning to work and of working hard on his feet and we've just done it. It feels incredibly surreal and it wasn't until I got Buddy home last night that it all sunk in. I expected to be in floods of tears through the finish line but I wasn't, I had that amazing feeling of elation and I think it was because I expected to finish.. it wasn't a fluke as we had trained hard to make sure we were ready and although the conditions and everything was far from perfect on the day we had done enough to ensure we were confident and good to go. I am blessed to have such an amazing support network around me but huge thanks obviously go to Nic and Rockley Farm for making my dream a reality.

We'd had a good week prior to the event and I'd gone XC schooling with Warren at Mattingley which was really great. We came home full of confidence and I felt completely prepared for the task at hand. I was very lucky with my times but still had an early start as I wanted to make sure I had breakfast and some chill time before I got to the yard. The weather forecast was not great and heavy rain and thunderstorms were predicted in between 10am and 3pm - pretty much exactly when I'd be riding. Great. I'd walked the SJ and XC the night before and was confident it was do-able without too many issues so just needed to get through the dressage and see if we were up to being eventers!

I know it's blurry but I just wanted to show how confident B was with the going

It started to rain pretty much as soon as we got there. I ran over to get my number and check in then it was back to the box to get B ready in between showers. I'm not entirely sure why I bothered as the heavens opened pretty much as I got into the warm up! He felt bright but attentive and I was pleased with how our warm up was going although it was hard to not be distracted by the other horses slipping and sliding all over the place as the rain continued. Buddy was coping so I ensured that I kept him as together and balanced as I could and it was soon into the ring. According to the other competitors, our ring was incredibly slippery but I have to say I didn't think so (or Buddy didn't) and as you can see from the video he wasn't finding it an issue at all! I got back to the lorry and watched the test and I was pretty happy with it - there were moments I would have given a 5 to but also moments worth an 8. I was confident it would be a sub 50 score ;o)

Then it was back to the lorry to try and dry off a bit and onto show jumping. It had been raining quite hard, thunder was rumbling and the going was the worst I could have wanted - rock hard underneath but soft on top which equals a recipe for slipping. I decided I would see how he felt and go from there. One of my lovely fellow Rockley friends came to help and she kindly went to see what our dressage score was. We had done OK she said... 33 and currently around 5th place. Blimey... A double clear and we'd be in the placings for sure! I tried not to be too competitive as that was not what the day was about.. so onto the warm up!

The ring was disgusting, slippery and with a whole load of people who need to learn warm up etiquette which made it quite stressful. Buds wasn't too keen on the ground and the take offs were getting pretty churned up so I kept my warm up to a minimum and just popped each fence a couple of times. In the meantime it appeared everyone was getting eliminated, multiple faults and time faults a plenty. I couldn't understand why but I do think the ground played a huge part. It was our turn in and my plan was to go with the flow but to trot round the corners and into the spooky fences. I had Warren's advise ringing in my ears and tried my best. I did make two mistakes getting in front of the movement and Buddy quite rightly told me to bugger off as he wasn't sure and I just made his life harder so it was easier for him to say no. So two refusals and a whole load of time faults... BUT we didn't get eliminated!

Before the heavens opened!
As there had been lots of eliminations we got ready immediately for XC and went across. By the time I'd warmed up and was ready to go the heavens opened and the rain wasn't messing around. Within a minute I was soaked through to my knickers! I have to say they were the worst conditions I have ever ridden XC in. I could barely hold my rains (thank god Buddy isn't strong) and could hardly see at points. We had a refusal at the first as I wasn't concentrating and expected him to just pop it (won't make that mistake again) and then later on in the course, 4th from home (#13) which I had expected him to look at but he was totally distracted and not paying attention to where he was going. On paper it was the worst day ever - final results aren't up yet but I would assume we had the furthest fall from the placings ;o) - but I completed each of my objectives and that is the main thing.

Best bit was that Buddy bounced out of his stable this morning and we went for a gentle leg stretch. He is totally sound and was striding out obviously very pleased with himself! We have a lesson with Warren on Tuesaday and I'm going to try and get a late entry into an eventers challenge for next weekend in preperation for our next event on 13th July.

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