Before we start with how we got on at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton Horse Trials last week (30 April-1 May), here’s the obligatory Badminton House picture (above)!
We are over the thrill of Badminton and what a few days we had, followed by being glued to watching the five-star competition that showed the ups and the downs of a fantastic sport. Poor Oliver Townend — I am a massive fan of his, as look at what he can do with horses — his consistent marks and results and also his big point of only losing weight to improve likelihood of an improved performance. But on the flip side, go Piggy! And what a mare Vanir Kamira is.
Murph was brilliant in the BE100 championship. He soaked in the atmosphere and we both learnt lots, especially as he is only six.
A costly error in the dressage, in the medium trot breaking into canter, cost us a decent score, as it then took a movement or two to get it back (perhaps I asked for it to early, or maybe he just anticipated it) as it’s normally a good movement for him. But hey ho, it wasn’t meant to be. I was glad he relaxed though as during his morning exercise at 6.30am he heard the Beaufort hounds in their kennels down the road and thought he was hunting!
I then walked the cross-country with my super-groom mum, who glanced over at the big track and said she definitely will not be watching if I get there! The 100 course to me looked a decent track, some bigger attacking jumps, then with a few technical fences. I was confident and so were a few riders that had jumped around a BE novice previously — apparently it was tougher than normal but the showjumping was smaller. I then walked it with childhood hero Mary King (I have to admit Pippa Funnell was my number one though!), which was interesting. The biggest thing I learnt was always go the shortest way round, hug the rail or the rope — I’ve taken that on board!
Then it was time for our jumping day. In a dog leg in the showjumping I waited and put eight strides in, instead of seven, which meant Murph was short of room and touched a pole, but otherwise he was great (sack the jockey). But cross-country, what can I say? Absolutely faultless and flawless!
His ears were pricked right from the start until the finish and he loved it. The only thing I think he looked at was cantering over a bridge. He loved people cheering, it’s a buzz which you’re not really used to, as at every fence someone is cheering you on. Murph is very quick across the ground, so I was actually concerned about going too quick. I had my minute markers on my arm, which I kept glancing at. The sixth minute was at a tree before the double of corners fence 20. I was about 20 seconds up so it meant I could take a pull and ride those fences in more of a showjumping canter. The CrossCountry App works it out for you, and as I step up the levels, the speed I’m going is something I really need to take note of.
This video of the rail, ditch, rail below shows me providing a little vocal encouragement at part A — Murph wasn’t sure what was down the slope.
We finished 30th. The pole showjumping cost us 10 places, which I’m more disappointed about as it was my fault and dropped us out of the top 20. But it was an amazing experience and I recommend to everyone to get qualified!
We rushed over to the Burghley Young Event Horse class after the cross-country so that Freddie could compete in the four-year-old class. We had to hack all the way over the the other side of the estate with the young horses, which proved difficult for some. Freddie aka Rock N Around was more excited on the way home though! He behaved like a pro and finished fourth — thrilled was an understatement! He is part-owned by mum too, so it was great that she witnessed what a star in the making he is. Not many four-year-olds will rest their leg in a prize-giving!
Murph has had a week off, but now heads to Royal Windsor Horse Show for the Mountain & Moorland working hunter pony class today. He then goes to Tweseldown and Little Downham novices. After those I will give him a little holiday while I pull myself together to write his advert to put him up for sale (I’m sobbing already).
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Hyacint heads to Houghton CCI2*-L so it’s all systems go for that. She had her prep-run at Keysoe earlier this week, where she jumped a classy double clear so hopefully we can pull it out the bag there.
That’s a wrap from me. I might get asked to do a blog in a few year’s time as a first-time rider in the five-star at Badminton. I hope you all have enjoyed our journey with the super-pony Murph; remember, not all heroes wear capes!
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