Badminton first-timer’s blog: sleepless sons, dress codes and 10-inch ears

  • Whoops, I spoke too soon — not so many zzzzs last night! The combination of Toby being unsettled in the early hours, more rain hammering on the lorry roof and pure excitement about being here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials mean the bags under the eyes are a little darker this morning!

    Miley is in top order though. I’m very happy with how he’s working — he is relaxed enough to be concentrating, but aware enough of his surroundings that he wants to show off! Time will tell whether we are able to replicate it in the dressage arena tomorrow, but quite honestly as long as I don’t let him down, I’ll forgive him most things.

    There has been a bit of discussion recently over the dress code in the dressage arena. I’m not entering into the debate other than to say tomorrow morning I’ll be wearing the traditional top hat and tails… and my tail coat is totally authentic and a proper relic as it was worn by my father and grandfather when they were at Oxford University!

    Talking of ancient kit, my 20-year-old jump saddle, which Miley has always worn, broke irreparably the day before our first event this season so I’d like to thank Abs’ owner, Margaret Roser, for letting us borrow his lovely saddle!

    One thing I definitely can’t borrow is a bonnet to fit over Miley’s extra long ears. As I’ve now learnt, the standard size of six inches simply isn’t big enough and so a friend of mine has kindly custom made Miley’s to cover his 10 inchers!

    For me, the reason for walking the cross-country course is obvious. For fellow owner Katie it has another purpose — apart from scaring her senseless and causing her sleepless nights, she is using it as part of her training for another big challenge.

    Next weekend she is taking part in the “moonwalk”, which involves walking a 26-mile marathon overnight in aid of breast cancer. Katie suffered her own battle with this dreadful disease over the winter, but has thankfully now kicked it into touch. I’d like to wish her masses amount of support and anyone wishing to donate to this fantastic cause can find details on my Facebook page.

    Tonight we’ll be embracing the social side of participating in this prestigious event. Owners and riders are invited to a cocktail party in Badminton House which will be followed by a “champagne reception, dinner and dancing” in the Outside Chance, which is being put on by the Event Horse Owners Association.

    With my dressage test at 9.36am tomorrow morning, I can assure you that I’ll be leaving the champagne drinking to my owners!


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