With the words “Alice Dunsdon and Fernhill Present are accepted” ringing in my ears, Adelaide CCI**** has officially started!

We arrived on site on Tuesday and Hilly, like a true professional he is, has settled in well. We have  a little stable area to ourselves in the shade, which is perfect. The weather today saw temperatures of 42 degrees and Hilly is coping much better than us humans are with the heat.

Alice gives Hilly his last canter at Magic Millions

Tuesday morning I gave Hilly his last canter at Magic Millions (pictured right) before we travelled the 10min down the road to Victoria Park in Adelaide. The nerves started to set in as I sat in the lorry on route to the event, but luckily Facebook and Twitter are brilliant distractions and to be honest, I just couldn’t wait to get there!

Hilly seemed excited too and he came off the lorry with a very proud look about him. I probably had a very sweaty look about me. It was that hot that my lovely white English legs got to make an appearance, I think they were feeling pretty proud too.

I rode Hilly out for a little explore about Adelaide and to check out our opposition. Everyone I have met so far is so friendly and welcoming – there really is a lovely atmosphere here.

Wednesday morning came and, with the heads up about the weather, I rode out at 6.30am. If you have read my previous blogs you will know it’s no secret Hilly that is not a huge fan of what we call ‘the stressage’.

He genuinely does find this phase difficult, physically and mentally. Physically because he’s not the biggest mover in the world, nor is he built like Totilas, and mentally because he wants to please and he becomes wound up if he thinks he’s not doing it right. So it’s my job to tell him you’re better than Totilas and as for that Valegro, well he’s nothing compared to you supper dupper dressage pony Hilly!

To keep Hilly at his happiest I do a lot of hacking and canter work with him and not too much stressage. Before his dressage test I will give him a little jump and just basically keep his mind ticking over and making sure he’s happy and confident in what he is doing.

Hilly is his stable at Adelaide

Our trot-up was Wednesday afternoon and the heat was setting in. As I was trying to decide what action to take to try to stop my make up from sliding off my face, Jenny was in action plating up Hilly.

Hilly has always had a rather laid back attitude about trot-ups. In the actual trot he swaggers down at his own pace,  then turns around at the end eyeing up whether the ornamental flower arrangements are suitable for a quick snack, then he’ll swagger back.

It’s all rather in a manner of saying:

“Really? Is all of this necessary? Look at my mother. She’s all worried for no reason and my mate Jenny is anxious too. Are we done now?”

For all event riders no other words matter at that moment than hearing “Accepted”, which is exactly what Hilly and I heard.What a relief!

Alice checking her fit bit watch after the trot upMy boyfriend Dave bought me a Fit Bit watch. One of the wonderful things this Fit Bit watch does is it records your heart rate. I checked my heart rate just before I trotted up and it was around 94 – after the trot up it was 156. My poor heart!

I didn’t feel particularly nervous, but we’ve been through a lot to get here and it would have been – well I can’t find the words to describe how truly awful it might have been not to even been able to start the
competition. But here we are and it’s all good.

Hilly does his dressage Friday. I am staying focused and trying to enjoy the competition. I can’t wait to walk the cross-country and see what course designer Mike Etherington-Smith has in store for us throughout beautiful park land.

Until next time I’m trying to stay cool mentally and physically…

Alice and Hilly xx