Badminton Horse Trials diary: Gaby Cooke’s struggling with the brakes

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I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing my third diary already, it really does only seem like yesterday that I was chatting away about Tweseldown. We’ve been very busy here to say the least – I actually cannot understand where the hours and days go, but they disappear.

Last weekend we were at Lincolnshire with two six-year-olds, Liberty Rock and Saunders Lady, and then of course my Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials ride Sir Roscoe and Broadway Star were there on the Sunday.

The two babies were up first and I was again pleased with them. Saunders Lady’s dressage is improving – it’s going to take a few runs to settle down – but she jumped a super double clear again. I just need to play around with a few bits as she isn’t 100% happy in her cross-country bit.

Liberty Rock decided to be a complete twit in his test. He really has come to terms with how dull dressage is – stressage is certainly not a word he understands. Bless him, he put very little effort in and tripped a couple of times. Just one of those things – spurs will be on next time! He too jumped a lovely double clear, but like the mare his test wasn’t quite good enough to chase the time to get a place.

While we were packing up the lorry, Afghanistan called. My boyfriend Jeremy has just moved out of Camp Bastion and on to a patrol base somewhere. That’s unfortunately as far as we got before my signal went. Typical. How can they have better signal out there than us… seriously?! Unfortunately there was no call back after running around like a headless chicken with my arm in the air. We’ve all been there, don’t try to deny it… No one would believe you!

Complete brake failure

On to the big boys… We raced home on Saturday to work the two competing the following day. After finally getting the lorry turned around it was off to bed with an early start awaiting, despite a very leisurely 11.06am first dressage test. New tactics. There’s much more room at Lincoln to work the horses, so the plan was to simply canter Roscoe until he pulled himself up and come back to a trot.

This took longer then expected, but in the end it did seem to half work. We got through his test without any “extra curricular” moves, although the desperate attempt to do the whole thing in extended trot was still there. He did the whole thing in a horrible hailstorm, it was chucking down skittles during the walk part of his test.

Jumping phases… Hmmmmm… We had a mechanical fault. Complete brake failure. Not only was this in the showjumping but also cross-country (above right), which is very worrying. As the ground was good I thought I would put Roscoe’s “special” bit in and click along a little bit quicker. Oh no. This was not going to happen. Although he was super through all the combinations and didn’t really put a foot wrong anywhere, I actually could not take the handbrake off at all. Back to the drawing board again… He really does like to try me!

A little update on Broadway Star, who was a super boy to jump double clear in the intermediate (left). I’m pleased to say he wasn’t interested in the fence judges’ picnics or at all spooky anywhere, not even at the wooden cows. This all came as such a surprise after him looking at everything but the jumps at Tweseldown. He really did give me a super ride and left me kicking myself for crawling out the start box giving him time to take it all in when he clearly just wanted to get on with the job. Nice to have him back to his normal self!

So a good Lincoln this year, especially Sunday as in the past there seem to have been gremlins hiding around the intermediate course out to get me. Hopefully we’ve now put that all to rest.

Monday morning was back to Lincoln with the babies for cross-country schooling. They were all good and Python had his last schooling session before his first proper outing at Draycott this week. We set our standards rather high at an unaffiliated event a few weeks ago where he was second, much to the delight of his owners Ryck Turner and Sally Platts. Fingers crossed he’s as good again.

With Belton CIC*** next week, I don’t have a lot of time to find new “brake pads” for Roscoe, let alone try them out. So with my gum shield firmly in place, I think we might be making a fair few trips cross-country schooling in the next couple of days. On the note of Belton, I have to thank BEDE events for accepting such a huge entry list into the CIC***. I’m sure everyone hugely appreciates it.

Ivy the lorry dog

The team here seem to be getting back into the swing of things – even little Ivy (my four-month-old Jack Russell puppy) was spotted this evening clambering up the lorry steps and firmly placing herself in the driver’s seat! A true horsebox dog already.

Although Roscoe certainly isn’t giving me the ideal build-up to Badminton, I still just have to thank him for the experience he’s giving me, no matter how much I feel like giving up with him. I’m sure I’m not the only one having a few issues, whether it’s being balloted, silly injuries on either the horse or rider’s behalf or anything else getting in the way. My issue is just a mental game – if we crack it I’ve got a good one.

Still eagerly waiting to see who’s been accepted into Badminton…

Gaby

Gaby’s website

Read Gaby’s other diaries

Full report from Lincolnshire in H&H out today, 22 March