This week I have been on gardening leave between jobs. It had been a week of lots of ups and downs with plenty of lessons learnt.

On Saturday 5 March we headed to Kelsall Equestrian Centre for British Eventing (BE) arena eventing. Sara (Donner Sara B) and I have been working really hard on our showjumping canter and I was quite excited to try it out under competition stress.

She popped around the 90cm showjumping absolutely beautifully. I kicked around the corner for the first cross-country fence and Sara locked on to the corner — unfortunately this was not the first fence! She had not seen the “ditch” (water tray with twigs on either side) that was four strides before the corner and stopped dead. Unfortunately I didn’t and went flying over the top. Luckily I just avoided the dreaded soggy bottom.

After dusting myself off we also jumped the one-metre class and she jumped a beautiful double clear four seconds inside the time and just missing out on a placing.

Lesson one: I must remember to let Sara see the fence.

On Tuesday Sara and I headed back to Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre for some stop watch training where I got to try out the beautiful pink stop watch that Santa got me for Christmas.

We had to ride at 400mpm (meters per minute), 450mpm (BE90 speed) and 475mpm. We then had to jump a course. Sadly because it was so wet we were on an arena, so jumping at 450mpm was not possible however it was a great exercise, the hardest part being learning to press the start button on the stop watch when leaving the start box.

The road to the Badminton Mitsubishi Cup: Welcome to my new blog

This was also my first solo voyage in the horsebox since passing my test in October. I was so excited when I got home that not only had Sara and I enjoyed a great training session but that we had also both survived my driving I failed to realise until Wednesday morning when I was supposed to be heading to a dressage lesson that I had forgotten to turn the lights off and take the isolator out.

Lesson two: Remember to turn the lorry lights off and take the isolator switch out.

On Saturday 12 March we headed to Aintree Equestrian Centre for their unaffiliated dressage championships. I had decided that the more practice we can get in a long arena the better as the beautiful 20m circles that we can do in a 20x40m arena become slightly wonky 30m eggs in a 20x60m arena.

We were entered in both the novice and the elementary tests. Sara warmed up really nicely and I thought she was going particularly well. I was feeling rather confident as we went into the arena, however Sara apparently had different ideas and had clearly decided that P stood for “pony eating monster” (although maybe it was the brightly coloured sign behind it). Every time the test took us near P Sara decided that the safest place to be was the middle of the arena. We just about managed to finish the test and given her behaviour I was very surprised that we scraped a 60% score and the elementary test was no better.

Lesson three: Find as many brightly coloured signs as possible and fill Sara’s stable with plastic flowers.

We have fingers and hooves crossed that this nice weather will continue and we can get to our first event of the season this coming weekend.

Carrie (and Sara)