I’ve never been to Great Tew before but the decision was made that I could accompany the rider (who shall remain nameless) as the groom, rather than my daughter (her working pupil) who had far more important things to do, like riding all the other horses.
Being an organised soul, I asked the night before whether all the tack was on board the lorry. That was mistake number one — I should have checked myself.
The journey was uneventful, we didn’t get lost and arrived in good time. We were shown where to park. Turned out we couldn’t have been further away from everything if we had tried. Mistake number two as I’m not as fit or as young as I once was.
Declining the rider’s offer to walk the cross-country course (was she mad!!) I started to get the first horse ready. Now at this point I should mention that in equine terms I am a ‘good doer’ and trying to clean out stud holes, groom and tack up in the confines of the lorry was just a little bit of a squash.
So far so good, the rider was on and off to dressage, closely followed by eager owner. I decide that a quick drink is in order (non-alcoholic of course) only to be caught by rider’s parents as I am sitting down. They seem more bemused by the fact that they have just seen a man mowing his lawn wearing just his wellies.
My rider returns and the horse is prepared for show jumping. Now remember my question about tack? It appears that the martingale is not on lorry. It must be someone’s fault so we decide to blame the working pupil, after all she’s not here.
I have to go to the warm up to ‘do fences’. This sounds very glam but in reality means you have to hold your position when various riders thunder towards you, all wanting to jump the same fence at different heights at the same time. This was accompanied by the sudden appearance of the brewery dray making its way to the trade stand area. We could have blamed the eight faults on that but it had gone by the time my rider jumped.
I raced back to the lorry, panting after the horse as the rider gave me my next instructions. Did I mention that I am slightly deaf? I couldn’t hear a word so made it up as I went along. Luckily the cross-country went well with a clear round — hoorah!
Far from this being the end, we now repeated the whole exercise with the second horse.
I feel sure that there is something missing in this tale — oh yes lunch! Did I see it, eat it, taste it even? There is no time for mundane things like eating. All the tack from the first horse needed cleaning — if I didn’t do it now I would have to do it later.
Eventually all is completed. The second horse jumped a double clear but wasn’t placed. That was all the fault of the dressage judge who obviously didn’t like our horse. There is no accounting for taste.
So we wend our way home; a perilous journey with a cup of tea and piece of cake. With relief, the yard is in sight and I start thinking about home, bed, bath, food — not necessarily in that order.
However my hopes are dashed as the rider has to shoot off to a barbeque and she is sure that I don’t mind finishing off! I am further disheartened to find that my mare and foal are still out in the field and their box has not been mucked out. What has that working pupil been doing all day? When I eventually get home she reminds me that she doesn’t work for me. I know there is something wrong with this but I’m so tired I can’t quite think what it is.
Great Tew a lovely event with great people, but hell on the feet!