My trainer and I set off on the near four-hour journey to Brightling on Saturday. We stabled 5min from the event in the most beautiful yard; the horses had a scenic view of the hills and a reservoir from their stable. We stayed in the lorry, with slightly less glamourous views.
We were woken at around 5am to the sound of very heavy rain, which persisted until around 7am. It was so heavy I thought Brightling might abandon! On our fifth attempt we managed to get the lorry through the muddy gateway and were on our way.
We were towed into the event by a tractor as the ground was pretty gluey already. The sun came out and we headed off to the dressage. He warmed up really well and wasn’t bothered by the ground. We did, for us, a seriously good test and both my trainer and myself were thrilled! Later in the day, we were shocked and disappointed to see I’d scored 39.5, but as the highest dressage score in my section to complete was 31.9, it wasn’t too bad after all.
On to the show jumping, which was causing considerable problems. The ground had turned into superglue and careful, scopey horses were going upwards, rather than outwards, to compensate and not making the distance on spreads. My trainer said to really attack and ride boldly as horses were stopping all over the place because they just didn’t have enough oomph in the canter. I was really, really chuffed to just have one down.
The cross-country was hilly! We don’t have hills in the New Forest and I was shattered after walking round. I thought it was a bold course with a couple of tricky questions. Most of the course rode fine. I was particularly pleased with the waters as we nearly had a fall while water schooling at Hoplands a few weeks earlier. The only hairy moment was in the woods, where you jumped
Through the woods to a downhill hanging long, three strides to a ditch, then two strides uphill and a 90 degree turn left over an arrowhead. There was an alternative, 90 degrees to the right, which gave you three strides but headed you in the wrong direction.
I had intended to try the direct route, but he leapt over the ditch so I made a straight line to jump the arrowhead on an angle. He’s such a star and loves his job — I don’t think I would’ve got away with it on another horse. He started to feel tired at the end of the course and rapped the last two fences. He could have gone round Tweseldown twice last week, but the Brightling hills had taken their toll.
We finished clear with 8.4 time faults to be placed eight out of 39 starters and pick up our first BE point, yay! I took great pride in getting all dressed up for the prize giving, even if it was for an 8th rosette — I was like the cat that got the cream!