What a Busy Month
What a busy month it has been both as a competitor and as an organiser.
It began with Hartpury International Horse Trials, where i was competing 2 horses. Hartpury has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past, as i won the CCI* there in 2010 with Mon Chapelle. This year i contested that class with Foxdon Sunny Jim (Jimmy) and On The Brash (Rufus), the former of which i had only competed once before, and the latter was doing his first 3 day event. Both Potentially unknown quantities.
Rufus worked in beautifully for his dressage, but had a complete meltdown when he got in to the International Arena, which wasn't helped by one of The Trade Stands dropping a board just as i was trotting up the long side. I had one of those moments that every rider dreads, as we cavorted sideways across the arena at speed, where i wondered if a) i was going to stay on and b) if i would be eliminated for entering the arena before the judges rung the bell. Thankfully i managed to stay on and was not penalized for our hasty entry.
We survived the test, moments of which showed huge promise, but Rufus was more anxious than i would have anticipated. He scored in the mid - fifties, which all things considered was not to bad.
Jim excelled himself. He went in and produced a super test, which was rewarded handsomely by the judges and left him in 5th place out of 110 starters. He continued to impress with a magical cross country round the next day, clear and well inside the time. This elevated him to 2nd place going in to the show jumping, with no room for error in this phase, as 1 pole would drop us about 10 places. I could hardy breathe before entering the arena. Just as i was about to go in Bec's reminded me that i ride best under pressure (not sure that i agreed with her at the time, and i managed to stay calm and jump a clear round.
The poor overnight leader went in and knocked down 2 fences down, and meant Jimmy and i were the winners. It was truly euphoric moment, which i will savoir forever. I was so pleased for his owners, who also bred him, and for Bec's and the team at home, who put so much work in at home to get him to that point.
Rufus also went very well across country, jumping clear and inside the time, showing great promise for the future. He lowered a couple of poles in the show jumping phase,which again was due to him becoming slightly anxious, but he would not have experienced as much atmosphere before, and this will have been a great learning experience for him.
Once again, Hartpury proved to be a great event for us, and i was very pleased to be returning back to Devon with the beautiful glass and silver trophy i won 3 years ago.
The following week i had to put my organisers hat on, as i hosted Bicton Horse Trials. I fully expected this to be a very different experience for me, being on the other side of the fence so to speak, but i had not fully anticipated quite how much goes in to running an event. The next time i hear a rider moaning, i will be down on them a ton of bricks, and suggest they spend a day assisting at a Horse Trials!!
I cannot thank all the volunteers who gave up their time to jump judge, man the road crossings, take the tea and coffee round, and undertake so many duties that go on behind the scenes. The officials from British Eventing were fabulous, as too was the doctor, the cross country control team, start team,ring stewards and judges for the Dressage and Showjumping. Without all these people, the event simply would not take place. Instead of lying in bed the night before the event, riding through the course in my head and envisaging potential problems, i found myself going through entirely different scenarios. What if the doctor did not turn up? What if i had told the show jumping judges the wrong date? What if the rosettes did not turn up? Eventually it got midnight and i gave myself a stern talking to,and accepted in would be ok.
Still on a high from my win at Hartpury the previous week, i thought it would be impossible to get a buzz from anything other than riding in an event, I was surprise how rewarding it can be from organising preservative, as so many people were kind enough to come and express their thanks, and give such positive feedback, and it really made the whole experience feel special and that it was something i was proud to be involved in.