“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…”
So said Tennyson, but it seems to me that in the spring an eventer’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of horse trials.
With entries opening this Friday (23 January) for the first British Eventing fixtures of the season, eventers across the country will be asking all the same questions they ask themselves every year.
Where shall I go for my first event of the season? Should I hold back in case the weather doesn’t warm up and I can’t put enough work into my horse to be ready for the first weekend of March? How many BE100s do I need to do before I tackle a novice? Will my horse remember everything he knew at the end of last season or will he return to being a gibbering wreck as soon as he sees white boards?
Maybe a new event in your area has opened up your choices. Should I go there or head to the tried and tested option? Will it be a strong course or an easy one? What if the showjumping has a spooky hedge right by the arena?
Or perhaps it’s the opposite scenario — a favourite event has left the calendar or moved date. How far am I willing to drive to get a run that weekend? If I don’t compete that day can I get the qualifications or practice I need to fulfil my ultimate season or half season aim?
So you’re sitting down, with the British Eventing magazine or website on a laptop or tablet, plus Eventing magazine’s horse trials guide (on sale Saturday 21 February). You think you’ve got it all sorted. Then you consult your diary or your helpers… and discover it’s not quite that simple.
Oh — it’s mum’s birthday that weekend I was thinking of asking her to help me drive 200 miles to the best one-day event within striking distance. She loves doing that and spending the return journey hearing me agonise about why I got eliminated at the first fence, right?
How much do I want to go to that colleague’s wedding? I mean, doesn’t she know it’s the same weekend as the three-day event you started aiming for four years ago?
I used to find fitting the jigsaw together difficult enough with one horse — how professionals with multiple horses and owners to take into account manage to get it all sorted I really don’t know. Hats off to them and good luck to everyone eventing this season, whether you’re aiming for your first BE80(T) or Badminton or anything in between.
Eventing magazine’s horse trials guide — with info from every organiser, rider comments on every fixture and percentages of cross-country clear rounds from 2014 events — is published in the March (out Saturday, 21 February) and April (out Saturday, 21 March) issues.