After a fun-filled double birthday celebration spent with family, close friends (and even my attempt at a “train cake”), we headed to Lincolnshire for Belton Horse Trials.

tractor cake

The weekend wasn’t completely plain sailing, but we achieved the main objective. All three horses went superbly around the advanced class and had perfect last prep runs before their respective three-day-event targets in May. Obviously Miley (Absolut Opposition) is heading for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and Ollie (Uwald) and Abs (Abbeylara Prince) for Saumur CCI3* in France later in May.

So now I better explain why the weekend didn’t go 100% to plan.

The first mini drama was a missing pregnant Labrador. My mother’s dog had obviously got the late night munchies and gone in search of extra snacks. The following morning she still hadn’t returned and so we had to leave for Belton trying to co-ordinate the search and rescue party from the end of a phone. By 9am we had tracked her down to a local vets.

I’m not sure we’ll ever know exactly what happened to her and although she had a couple of superficial injuries, she is absolutely fine. She then hitched a lift to Belton with Abs’ owner Margaret Peet so it wasn’t long before mother and dog were reunited!

Nana Miley Belton dressage

Miley in the dressage at Belton

Having done dressage on all three horses on Saturday, we had another early start to return for the jumping phases on Sunday. The problem was that it ended up not being quite as early as planned — my alarm didn’t go off.

We were due to be leaving at 6.20am and I woke up at 6.09am. Mad rush ensued as I scooped everything up including my slightly startled, but incredibly good humoured two-year-old son Toby. We pulled out of the drive at 6.22am, which was all credit to superstar groom, Candice, who saved my bacon by having all horses ready and loaded. Phew!

Nana and Toby

From dressage mode to mummy mode with Toby

As my last trip to Belton was in 1994, it was no surprise that it’s developed massively and is quite different to how I remembered. I have nothing but praise for the team involved for putting on such a fantastic event.

I loved the cross-country course although a sunken road combination at the end of the course had me scratching my head a bit.

Miley jumped in so boldly that I pulled left to jump the option out but as I crossed the finished line I heard on the tanoy that I’d jumped the wrong side of a flag and so was technically eliminated. Whoops!

Katie was there so saw his lovely round and with 3% battery left on my phone, I texted Miley’s other owner, Rosie Glaister to let her know what had happened. My phone then ran out of juice so my apologies go to my husband Adam and best friend Tor, who saw the ‘E’ on the live web results which gave them cause for concern, especially as they then weren’t able to get hold of me!

Nana Dalton - UWALD - Belton

Ollie on the cross-country at Belton

I promise to walk the Badminton course more accurately, pack my phone charger and try not to add any more letters of the alphabet to our record!

On another note, I was fairly amused by the extreme difference in opinions from the judges when reading through Ollie’s two dressage sheets. For his first flying change, one judge awarded him a seven and the other judge a zero!

Nana Dalton - Abbeylara Prince - Belton

Abs on the cross-country at Belton

Belton was our final major hurdle in our build up to Badminton so it’s now a case of bulk buying the cotton wool to wrap Miley in, some fine tuning in our training sessions and indulging in some more excitement that this dream might actually convert to reality!

To add to this, my sister is due to give birth to her second child during Badminton week so we’ll be hoping that the St John’s Ambulance crew are up to date with their midwifery skills (and we’ll be packing plenty of gin for poor granny’s stress levels!).

Nana