The adventures of Hero, Heidi and Hobday: a bolting incident and the importance of red trousers and feathers

  • Heidi (Aberllanerch High Tide) recovered from the emotional wobble she had on the way to Ireland when she drove close to where she had been born. Tattersalls International Horse Trials was great fun, although she was perplexed by the funny trotting up and down thing that was required.

    This CCI format was slightly confusing where you spend a whole day on each discipline. She chatted very intently to her friend Shadow Man who was in the next stable, to clarify exactly what was going on, when Ben came and unceremoniously moved her to a different stable because she was being too flirtatious and might distract Shadow Man, as she had Mulry.

    Another surprise was the dressage as Ben wore a jacket with tails, which was really stupid as they flapped frighteningly around. Also, they had not one judge but three, and they did a good cop/bad cop thing where one gave great scores and the other two really bad ones. They couldn’t agree on anything other than her impeccable canter, which she had obviously perfected. She was mortified to learn her final score was just over 50 and wanted to go and give those judges a piece of her mind. She was quite forlorn in her stable when suddenly mummy Hero arrived on the scene and ran in to shower her with kisses and tell her how brilliant she was. Hero clung to her neck and reassured Heidi that it was really good to get 50 and not to worry.

    Me with Heidi at Tatts

    I (Hero) was ecstatic to escape for a long weekend. I have been working so hard on my A-Levels it feels like I barely leave my room, and of course the thing I miss most is no riding and not seeing my gorgeous Heidi. I imagined when she went to Ben’s that I’d be there every weekend, riding or watching her compete, but the reality is that I’m on my lonesome most of the time with my nose stuck in a book or out working to pay Heidi’s keep. I’m beyond thrilled to have been offered a place at Oxford University to study at Christ Church but the exam pressure is almost overwhelming. I’ve only got one more week though and then the A-Levels are over. I pray every day that I don’t have some kind of breakdown and forget everything I’ve spent two years learning. It’s weird that your whole future depends on what you write during a few three-hour exams.

    My Tatler feature

    I can’t quite believe that the last one is on 22 June and then I’m no longer a schoolgirl. I’m planning to mark it by jumping into the lake in my school uniform on the way home. I won’t be off out celebrating with my friends as within a few hours of finishing, I need to be on the way to London as the next day I start rehearsals for The Picture of Dorian Gray. I am really excited, though, to meet the cast and get stuck into rehearsals. It’s going to be a crazy week as I also begin filming a BBC documentary and will feature in an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery as one of 26 English Roses.

    With life being so hectic, it was great to escape all the pressure and head over to Ireland to see Heidi in her first one-star. Sallie Ryle (Mulry’s owner) and her daughter Binnie kindly took me under their wing and arranged for me to stay with them at their friend Anna Wilson Wright’s at Coolcarrigan, which is one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit. Sallie taught me all about being an owner, which requires drinking copious amounts of Prosecco and being really superstitious. Red trousers are very lucky especially for cross-country but as I hadn’t packed any, Sallie wore hers on my behalf. Another vital trick she taught me was to find feathers and put them in the ground if you want your horse to go clear. I spent a lot of my time at Tatts, slightly tipsy, catching random feathers and trying to discreetly plant them in the grass.

    Everything was going very well until a little mishap at the cross-country warm-up when Ben’s groom smeared Heidi’s legs with event grease. She’s never had it applied before so had a quick sniff and then made the mistake of licking it. The taste of it was so horrifying she bolted halfway back to the stables with a slightly startled Ben on board. By the time they got back to the start box it was almost time to go and Heidi was already puffing! Heidi loves water combinations and so was in for a treat as they had a few at Tatts. She must be the only horse in the world who gets so excited when she steps into a puddle that she jumps up and down like a toddler.

    I was blissfully unaware of the pre-start bolting. Sallie and I sat nervously at a particularly difficult combination, which was a mistake as someone nearly fell off. I felt sick waiting for them to appear but then suddenly they were there, going so fast. I couldn’t breathe as they flew past, but it is always amazing to see how Heidi has progressed under Ben’s guidance. They really are impressive. I had a little weep when I heard the speakers confirm they’d gone round clear and in the time. Heidi went on to do a beautiful clear in the showjumping the next day and I was really proud to collect her rosette for 16th place. The red trousers and feathers obviously work wonders.

    Heidi’s Tatts rosette

    Continued below…

    Heidi had last week off but now she’s super busy as she’s qualified for the novice regional final which she is doing this Saturday at Warwick Hall. She’s also qualified for the 2017 British Intermediate Championship at The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in August. However, the thing I’m really excited about is going back to Ireland to watch her first two-star at Kilguilkey House at the end of this month. I might be slightly worse for wear as I’m partying the night before at the Saatchi Gallery and am planning to go straight from the show to the airport — no sleep needed!

    You may like...