Gaby Cooke’s blog: brushing away the eventing cobwebs

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Well, it’s been all go since my last update…

Finally, the ponies were out and about competing again and the first stop was Little Downham with four. William (Broadway Star) was first up, running in his first advanced. I was rather apprehensive as he hadn’t had a run for a very long time, so I thought we’d take each phase as it came. He did a sweet test, just his canter work really letting the mark down – he’s getting there, it’s just strength.

He showjumped well, so it was on to the cross-country. He started off really well, jumping really confidently despite spooking at every banner and anything that he wasn’t jumping. Bless him, his eyes were a little on storks!

This caused us to have a silly problem at a skinny cut hedge – it was a bit of a funny old fence in the wood with quite a wiggle before it to get straight and a ditch running under the hedge and out to both sides. William in his current state of mind spooked at a pile of logs where we needed to do our “wiggle” and then locked onto the ditch to the side. Silly boy. As it was such a tricky fence to get their concentration and momentum back, I decided to call it a day.

We were already on plan Z having had plan A, B and C cancelled, so we knew we were pushing our luck. Seemed a sensible thing to do and save him for another day.

The other three – Bertie (Liberty Rock), Poppet (Saunders Lady) and Pye (Python ll) – were running the following day and all three followed the same trend as each other. It honestly felt like I was at Oasby (1) riding some lunatic babies after a long winter of no excitement. We got through the day and none of them were overly competitive after the first two phases, so decided to go for a jolly cross-country and blow those cobwebs away. All three jumped nice clears.

It’s foal time

We also had some very exciting news over that weekend – our first little baby was born… a little bay boy. I presumed he would have no markings as my mare has produced two foals with no markings and this boy’s sire is plain bay. When we went to visit on Monday morning we had a bit of a surprise… White stripe and four white legs – well, three and a grey one! Bless him, he’s a really cutie and can’t wait to get him home.

We always said that if we had a colt this year we would call him Sir something in memory of my darling Sir Roscoe. So as daddy is called Stalypso, rather unoriginally at the moment he seems to be Sir Lypso. We have one more baby due in the next couple of weeks, by the same sire. As always hoping for a little colt and in this case there is a chance we could get a chestnut. The full-brother to the mare was chestnut with a white face and legs; in this case, having lost Sir Roscoe I would love to have chestnut. My guessing is bay and no markings though…

Mission accomplished for Cufflink and Cumlaude

Back to the competing and this time it was my two five-year-olds having their first outing at Subaru Houghton’s Burghley young event horse. It was a huge shame I didn’t have one running in the three-day as I have always enjoyed the event and had such fun.

My little two monkeys weren’t too bad, they didn’t eat the judges, no-one got injured and I stayed on. Mission complete! Despite Cufflink taking a rather large disliking to the ice cream van next to his dressage arena – if only he knew what was inside.

Those two, Cufflink and Cumlaude were out again for their first BE90 at Shelford a few days later. This is one of my favourite events for the babies; everything is nice and close together with nothing too scary. It was the most gloriously hot day, everyone was out baring our English pale skin and of course burning! It was the epitome of a truly British scene, green countryside, horses, sun, and everyone was burnt. Including my nose!

Anyway, again the two five-year-olds didn’t disgrace at all, a few baby mistakes, but were both awesome cross-country, especially Cufflink who gave me a great ride for a real baby.

Pye had also joined them with a late entry as he was a little on his toes the week before at Little Downham. He too was great; he did a lovely settled test and jumped the best he ever has in both phases. It’s rare we are pleased with all three phases, but I really was thrilled and even more so when I realised he had won on a 26.5. The only shame was that the owners Ryck Turner and Sally Platts couldn’t be there to see their boy.

Travel agent Cooke

Between all of this I actually feel like I have become a fully-fledged travel agent. I’ve been put in charge of organising a holiday in December by my boyfriend Jeremy – his very sweet treat to me for putting up with him being away in Afghanistan for so long. I’ve been up for many nights putting together quotes from Lappish Finland to Thailand to Zanzibar and more…

All of which are now useless as the Army have changed his leave dates again and now again. I should be used to this by now, but it still irritates be hugely. However, we’re thinking Canada at the moment – why I’m agreeing to this I have no idea. I find the summers over here cold, so how I’ll cope with the winter out there I do not know. Maybe a big hipflask will be in order!

No rest for the wicked as we are out again this weekend with six horses and three different events, which all happen to be in opposite directions… Hopefully they will all be well behaved and “cobwebless” so no excuses. I’ve made some alterations in bits so will be interesting to see if they work out. Can’t believe I’m going to say this, but can everyone please pray for rain!

Gaby

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Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk