You’ll be pleased to hear I have made progress with my ‘items take to Badminton list’. Not much, granted, but baby steps, right? My list now reads horse, saddle, wine and waterproofs. Plenty of them too. The forecast has not been looking great and I think it would be an accurate assumption that myself and everyone else heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup have become so obsessed with checking the weather that we are near enough qualified meteorologists. Want to know the five-day forecast for South Gloucestershire? Ask one of us. Or alternatively you could just assume it’s going to rain.
This past week has been a bit of an odd one for Charlie (pictured) and I. The hard work, all the preparations, fitness work and training sessions are behind us and now it has just been a case of keeping him ticking over while also ensuring his legs remain in working order.
We ran through our dressage test for the first time a few days ago, something I have been avoiding until recently as I’ve been out eventing on other horses and am easily confused, especially when all the tests have begun with tracking left at C.
While as far as Charlie is concerned the best dressage test for him would be one where you don’t enter at A, or anywhere else for that matter and remain contently on the box munching hay, the one we shall be riding at Badminton does seem to suit him. As previously mentioned, he is not blessed with the paces of Valegro, more that of a goat and so there will be no wowing the judges with his spectacular, flashy paces. However, his lacklustre strides do give me ample time to set up each movement and, generally speaking, he is very rideable and so the twisty, stop/start nature of this test should fall in our favour, if I can remember to go the right way that is!
The final photos of the cross-country course were released yesterday with the fences all beautifully dressed and flagged. I said last year after my qualification fail at Firle that I didn’t think the course would be to Charlie’s liking, in truth partly I think to make myself feel better about yet another unsuccessful attempt. That being said, I am feeling tentatively optimistic about this year’s course. Sure, I’m still going to have my work cut out getting the silly git round, and with all the rain we have had I think the ground is going to be a big factor this year too, but Charlie does love a skinny and on a good day he’s pretty cool through a tricky combination too and so I’m not despairing just yet.
Angled brushes seem to be much in favour on this year’s course and when I found myself with a few hours spare in between jobs last week, I set about building a little replica of parts B and C of fence nine in one of my paddocks. A few barrels, poles and one massacred confiner tree later and I think I did a pretty good job, the results of which are below.
I may have been a little stingy with the width of the jump-able section, poor Charlie’s belly only just fit, but he did skip through the combination nicely without any fuss — much to my surprise.
What will be, will be on the day and looking back at where we started all those years ago, just being at Badminton is enough. Having said that, a completion would be nice, and if he does his classic ‘jump the whole course clear and then stop at the final fence’, which he has done so in the past when in the running for a placing, I will be leaving him at the M4 service station.
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We have been drawn fairly late in our section and so we will be doing all three phases on Wednesday, with our dressage taking place just after ten and then the jumping phases in the mid-afternoon. The downside obviously being we are going to have the worst of the ground to contend with, but on the plus at least we will have some idea of how the course is riding.
I suppose I best make a serious effort at getting everything packed today. Plus I need to give the trailer, aka my accommodation a really good clean and Charlie could do with a quick trim and a tidy up too. We set off for Badminton tomorrow morning — see you there!
Read the full Badminton preview in this week’s Horse & Hound (issue dated 26 April 2018)
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