The diary of the home-made livery yard: like riding a bull on amphetamines

  • Last time I left you, South Woolley livery client, Lauren, and I were preparing for Chunky and Ruby’s first mini one-day event at The Grange Equestrian Centre.

    It’s not a horse show if you don’t have some sort of drama in the weeks preceding the competition that jeopardises your chances of getting there. So Ruby obliged by getting into a big fight in the field and going spectacularly lame two weeks before show day.

    Miraculously, Ruby recovered shortly before D-day, leaving Lauren precisely one jump session to practise before competing.

    Seeing as we were only arena eventing at a height of 40cm, the gear change after the dressage phase into cross-country colours and boots was more for the fun of it than through necessity. Still, I love a chance to dress up (occasionally) and Chunky’s owner, Jo, and I happily bought every red tack shop item we could find.

    Chunky and I in action

    I am the sort of person who struggles to get the kids to school each morning with the correct books, sports kit and lunches, so I knew that making sure all the gear for our ODE made it to the right place at the right time would be a struggle for me. At the age of 32, I know myself well enough, so it was no surprise to me that I ended up doing my dressage test in post box red gloves.

    Chunky had the time of his life at the event. He headed the dressage phase, despite some trips due to inattention and had the fastest time cross-country!

    Chunky had never seen cross-country fences before, but I had prepared him as much as I could by getting him to jump over ‘strange’ objects at home. You know, bedding bales, flower pots, children’s sand pits, surfboards. The usual stuff, I’m sure.

    The jumping was incredibly exciting for Chunky and at times I felt like I was riding a bull on amphetamines. After the first fence I questioned both my professional integrity and personal sanity having voluntarily left the martingale behind at the trailer.

    Chunky and I going down the steps

    Two poles down in the showjumping meant we took a happy second place, trumped only by Lauren and Ruby’s double clear to win! Amazing. Their coach must be brilliant.

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    Lauren and I celebrating

    We celebrated back at the yard with some of our invaluable support entourage — Jo, who had driven and groomed Chunky beautifully, Ani, who helped prevent Lauren from turning to nervous jelly, and Jen, who ran from arena to arena taking photos and recording the day with pictures we will all cherish.

    Celebrating with the team

    Lauren and I now consider ourselves fully fledged eventers. The trophy and rosettes have gone to our heads. We hold ourselves up there with the elite riders and shall be looking to qualify Chunky and Ruby for Badminton Horse Trials next year.

    Katy x

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

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