The adventures of Hero, Heidi and Hobday: summer sun, big bottoms and Heidi’s first two-star

  • Heidi (Aberllanerch High Tide) has been trying to remind her professional rider Ben Hobday that it’s the summer holidays and absolutely boiling hot: so, surely, they should all be snoozing under the shade of a tree, enjoying daydreams. At times she can’t believe they’ve moved to Northumberland as it feels more like the south of France with this scorching weather. Heidi keeps yawning hoping Ben will get the message that she’d really like some chill time, but Ben doesn’t do that; he’s constantly on the go, rushing here, there and everywhere. Heidi does wonder if he’s having too many oats for breakfast as everyone knows that’s rocket fuel.

    However, the whizzing around with Ben is great fun and it’s been a hectic few weeks since her double clear in the CCI* at Tattersalls. The next competition after that was the novice regional final at Warwick Hall. It was a fab day and Heidi thought she’d done a star performance going double clear and inside the time, but was a bit miffed to be out of the placings because of a not great dressage score. She felt rather despondent at coming 10th, but Ben was really encouraging and said she was still ‘super good’.

    After that outing, it was full on preparing for her first two-star with intense non-stop schooling. Heidi always wants to please and tries her best, but as the preparation intensified she felt slightly overwhelmed. Ben must have sensed this as he took her off for gallops on the beach and other fun stuff. He always reassures her with gentle pats telling her the hard work will be worth it one day as she’s got real potential. When Heidi loses motivation she thinks of her mum being nearly sold off to the knackers yard at Beeston and imagines how proud she’d be if she was still here to know that Heidi was going two-star and attempting to make it as a pro horse.

    Heidi has to admit she’s never felt better and has finally got a rather impressive muscular physique. She even gets patterns put on her backside when she competes now. It’s amazing the newly acquired power in her hindquarters and that strength is phenomenal, making her much more secure in the jumping phases.

    I (Hero) was absolutely terrified about Heidi doing her first CIC2* at Kilguilkey House in Ireland. My friends quickly became fed up with my anxious mutterings and constant online trawling to inspect the cross-country fences that she might have to tackle at the event. I was having mini-breakdowns as everything looked way too big!!

    I was gutted not to be able to be there. I wanted to watch more than anything in the world but in the end it wasn’t possible. My week was way too busy. Thursday was the launch at the Saatchi Gallery of Tatler and Michael Kors’ exhibition of English Roses, of which I am deemed one.

    I’m also now deep into rehearsals as Sibyl in The Picture of Dorian Gray and was needed all day Saturday and Sunday, so there was no chance of nabbing a speedy return flight to Cork to hug my amazing horsey. I had to keep tabs on her by checking my phone during every break in rehearsals to see how she was getting on. I was thrilled with Saturday’s news that she had a 49.1 dressage and great clear show jumping round.



    Lying in bed after such a good result it was hard to sleep knowing that as a newbie she’d done pretty amazingly and if she went on to have a nice fast run cross-country, she’d definitely be top 10. During every rehearsal break next day, I was glued to the online audio coverage, as the commentators said my girl was in the start box – but then everything was delayed due to a loose dog in the water jump. I worried it might spook Heidi, but luckily it was caught before causing too much disruption.

    Then they were off, but almost immediately they were saying Ben had stopped and I was unsure if he’d had a run out or was retiring. My heart sank, but it transpired all competitors had been halted as one of the fences was damaged and thus needed repairing.


    It felt like ages before Heidi and Ben were back on their way and I was listening intently to the commentators; but they had some endless conversation about a lost set of keys that had been handed in. I consequently had no clue if Heidi had gone clear or in the time. Every result seemed to come through except Heidi’s and it was hard focusing at work as I was on edge waiting for news.

    Finally I got a flurry of messages from Ben. He was over the moon with Heidi who came in at a very respectable eighth. I’m amazed by my girl.

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