The adventures of Hero, Heidi and Hobday: the ‘get more Ben-attention scheme’ massively backfired and she was left behind

  • My horse Heidi (Aberllanerch High Tide) was very excited about moving up a level and doing her first intermediate at Richmond Horse Trials. She remained blissfully unaware that Ben (Hobday, her rider) was on the wait-list for Badminton which was on the same day; little did she know that he was ready to ditch her at any moment, should he get in.

    It wasn’t until the farrier visited that she realised something was amiss. Mulry’s Error (Ben’s Badminton entrant) got some very snazzy designer handmade shoes with personalised writing in preparation for ‘Badders’. Heidi was obviously expecting the same star treatment and was mortified when she got dead plain ones with not even one letter, let alone ‘Yeh Boi’ emblazoned across the front of each one.

    Mulry’s shoes

    Suddenly it became clear to Heidi that Ben cared only about Mulry and the really annoying clan of Shadow horses: Shadow Chanel, Shadow Puppet, Shadow Prada, Shadow This and Shadow That. She thought they should all be called Shadow Go Away.

    She thrashed around in her stable, throwing herself against the walls and weaving like crazy while trying to come up with a strategy to win Ben’s full attention.

    Finally an idea hatched and she put plan A into practice. She decided that in those horrid plain shoes she could barely walk, let alone jump. She was very pleased when she saw Ben’s ashen face. He rang me (Hero) immediately saying something was terribly wrong with Heidi. The vet was summoned; he was perplexed, X-rays were immediately ordered (ouch, expensive), and after lengthy investigations, no one could pinpoint why Heidi was lame. Next the farrier rushed back to inspect. Heidi perked up believing she was about to get some snazzy shoes. She nuzzled Ben happily as the old ones were taken off but you can imagine her shock when the stupid farrier put exactly the same plain, boring ones back on.

    She was wretched and kept playing the ‘I’ve got a broken leg’ game every time Ben led her out of the box. She really hoped he would get that she needed those fancy shoes too but, no, she just got a few pony nuts from his pocket.

    The day of Richmond came and Heidi was uber-excited at 3am waiting to be loaded on to the Hobday lorry, but her get more Ben-attention scheme massively backfired and she was left on the yard. All horses, grooms and everyone left without her. The only horse staying was archenemy fatty Mulry who was too good for Richmond. It was a long and tedious day but then she had a brainwave: plan B. If she couldn’t win Ben’s heart then she’d better win the heart of the horse that has his affections. The ears back, moody mare biting gestures were instantly replaced with loving neighs and thus the wooing of Mulry began. He was surprisingly sweet and by the end of the day it was love and they were inseparable.

    Ben rang me (Hero) saying: “Heidi’s fine. Floors Castle intermediate is back on, are you coming?” and, “can you get an FEI passport and enter her into Tattersalls one-star by midday?” It was 10am. I thought being an owner was supposed to glamorous but really it’s a secretarial/financial catastrophe-avoidance role. Luckily, Eventing Ireland are extremely laid back, and when I rang the entries secretary with my predicament she was just like: “just send me her FEI number to me when you’ve got it”.

    When I saw the entry fee I feared for my credit card. I wake up in the night fretting about all the money I owe Ben. Thankfully in the summer I’ve been cast to play the lead girl in a mini-series, so should earn a bit of what I owe him.

    I wanted to throw a Heidi-sized tantrum when mum said I couldn’t go to Floors Castle as I had to go to school. I was awake from 5am imagining that I was there and was glued to the score updates on my phone. I was terrified that she might hurt herself. I should have known my scheming girl was on a mission to show her rider that she is the best horse on the yard.

    Heidi found it a bit chilly at Floors Castle and was rather miffed when Ben took her ungraciously away from morning cuddles with Mulry and made her trot towards the dressage arenas. She showed her displeasure by almost bucking him off en-route. However, she quickly reminded herself that the whole scheme was to woo Ben and she must do well.

    Mentally she went through the dressage scales ready to give a star performance. The plentiful pats Ben gave her afterwards showed he was pleased; however, smooch-time with Mulry was limited as now it was his turn to focus on dressage. She neighed non-stop from the second he left the lorry, to every corner of Floors Castle (and to most of Scotland as well) and didn’t stop until he returned with a slightly cross-looking Ben. Oh, for some reason he’d been distracted and not done his usual nice test! She had to admit the showjumping was a bit of an effort but she managed to pull a clear round out of the bag. However, Mulry was still somewhat distracted by the neighing in the distance and had a pole down.

    Ben collecting Heidi’s prize at Floors

    Continued below…

    Heidi barely had a second to breathe before heading to the cross-country start-box. The commentators were blaring loud and clear that Aberllanerch High Tide (Heidi) had the second-best dressage score in the section, a clear showjumping round and was in the lead heading into the cross-country. She could sense Ben was ditching the cautious “let’s go slowly, this is your first intermediate” approach. They took off like a torpedo and she sailed round the up-to-height course without hesitation (pictured, top) in a very good time. It was a triple-win day for Heidi. She won Mulry’s heart, Ben’s love and her first ever intermediate by 4.2 penalties! She better get those ‘Yeh Boi’ shoes now!

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