It has definitely been one of those weeks with ups and downs. I headed off to Hambleden with just two horses this past weekend, as the others were balloted. Holly (Riffala Du Buisson) was in the novice, and Crunchie (Kilcannon Watlings Crunch) was competing in the intermediate. I was quite excited for a quiet week’s eventing, and my boyfriend Tom and I headed off for our first night away in the new truck.

Holly did her dressage and showjumping on Saturday evening, and she did a lovely test and jumped a clear round. We didn’t show jump until gone 7pm, which is dangerously close to my bedtime, so it was nice to have stables sorted and even eat a bit of dinner before her round!

She went into the cross-country on Sunday morning on 32.5, and considering she has only moved up to novice this season she flew round a very tough track. A few time-penalties meant she finished in 6th and I couldn’t have been happier with her. She will have a couple more runs at novice and then we are planning on moving her up to intermediate.

Crunchie did a good test as well, to score a 35. She had a few down in the showjumping, which didn’t really reflect how nice a round she jumped. However, we know she is jumping better and better every time out and, considering she’s still a big, weak seven-year-old, she is starting to look very classy over fences.

We headed out on to the cross-country full of running; to say Crunchie can still go a bit green over the showjumps doesn’t mean she’s anything like that across country! I think I’d struggle to find a more straightforward horse for this phase.

Having said that, I did manage to properly come a cropper on Sunday. Crunchie was flying round the course, as per usual, when we came to the sunken road at fence 12. She jumped in over the big pole oxer very well, and popped in and out of the sunken road nicely. We then went up the slope to jump another pole oxer at the top of the hill. She suddenly went green at the base of the fence, and when I sat back and kicked her on she obliged like she always does. This time, however, she seemed to duck as she took off, the way some horses do when they jump through an owl hole fence.

The only thing I can think is that the shadows and trees on the backside of the fence distracted her and she hit the back rail of the fence, causing the frangible pin to break. Crunchie luckily didn’t fall properly, just went onto her knees, and I popped off the side. How very embarrassing!

I could have continued, but I knocked my shoulder a bit, so decided with Badminton next week I was better to call it a day there. We can’t seem to even find a scrape on Crunchie though, which is a very good thing. She can have a quiet time over Badminton and come back the week after for Aston-le-Walls, and we will just have to write this weekend off as “one of those things”.

“Fat Louie” (Zero Flight) is still on form for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials — he cantered yesterday and will do so again at the weekend before we start the epic task of packing the lorry. First I am taking Holly and Quality Purdey to Milton Keynes today, although I am under strict instructions not to fall off again. Apparently that would be far too embarrassing for poor Louie, and he may have to consider finding another jockey for the big event next week!

Lauren

Full report from Hambleden in H&H this week, plus the first part of our Badminton preview (out tomorrow, 25 April).

Lauren will be blogging daily during Badminton, so do check back to follow her progress. 

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