In many ways the BSPS summer championships this year have gone completely as usual. The weather evolved from conditions resembling that of a desert on Tuesday (three people fainted from the extreme heat), to torrential rain and thunderstorms on Saturday. Oh, and my sister Susie (typically, since we were expecting a very quiet week for her) got through to a supreme championship. All pretty standard.
However the week has also been filled with all sorts of complications. Luckily we’ve become accustomed to such dramas since the year that my mother got knocked out in the collecting ring by a horse, another year when we were religiously followed by a film crew and the one where, while walking to get to my class, my pony slipped and fell into the knee deep mud, completely submerging us both (I quite nearly drowned).
Our journey there was probably the most traumatic part. In her urgency to get the herb scissors in, my mother forgot the sat nav, which apparently she still needs even though we must’ve made the journey to Arena UK at least a couple of hundred times now. Fortunately though we were actually able to resolve this quite quickly by making Susie follow on Google maps. We were faced with a much more serious issue later on when we stopped for diesel and, letting her irritation at the absence of the sat nav take over, mummy was a bit too harsh with the key for the diesel cap and snapped it cleanly in half.
Still optimistic, we left the petrol station and limped along the motorway, desperately trying to save fuel, when we suddenly noticed in the wing mirror, the door to the living on to the road swinging freely open. The handle had fallen off the door. This was slightly trickier to fix although we did have bigger things to worry about with the diesel situation. So rather absent mindedly we sent Susie to the back to hold the door.
The next hour on the A1 was an extremely trying one. Susie, who had many near death experiences and whose hands were getting sweatier and sweatier with each one, was still trying to direct us from the back of the lorry, but in intervals informed us that she couldn’t “hold on for much longer”. We reassured her for the full hour from the comfort of the driver and passenger seats that there was only five minutes left. Unfortunately, when we had very nearly reached our destination, (which was to a friend’s yard near Arena UK) while trying to save herself after a particularly rash swerve from my mother, she forgot to tell us to get off the A1, which by this point was lethal if you could have seen how low the fuel was.
Going at a snail’s pace now, with mummy threatening that we’d have to push the lorry at any moment, we reached the Moult’s yard, who were also planning to leave for the champs in an hour or so. In an extreme contrast to our own situation, they were in an oasis of calm, something we seem to be unfamiliar with.
We all got off (including the ponies), strapped up the door and sent my mother on her way again, escorted by the remarkably patient Steve Moult to a mechanic’s garage in the hope that they would be able to force off the diesel cap. Apparently no force was needed and they were able (with great ease and amusement) to just unscrew it. Unfortunately, when my mother tried to do the same at the petrol station shortly afterwards she had no such luck and had to return to the garage where they once more twisted it off and then sent her back to the petrol station again. How she didn’t run out of fuel is a mystery to us all.
Some time later (it felt like weeks) we finally reached the summer champs. Despite our freshly filled tank of diesel and our spectacular ‘wedding marquee’ firmly in place, we felt we were facing the week already a bit worn out.
However the champs did not disappoint and we were able to enjoy yet another highly entertaining week with great friends and some good results. It was an absolute privilege to be on the England team for the second year running, and we were thrilled to finish second.
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The courses were expertly built all week by Graham Barclay, finishing with the enormous, extremely technical (and exhausting) Desert Orchid. My friend Patrick, who informed us at the end of last season that he was ‘retiring’, felt it was just calling for him to jump it, however I must say I felt he was much more effectively utilised as his sister’s groom. As for me, feeling not quite so confident as Patrick The Spectator, it was a dream come true to finish second in such a prestigious class and in such strong company. And a particular shock to my mother who interrupted my pony warm-up to tell my trainer, Rachel Turner, that she would rather risk the class than the pony, and that we should just put him away. Rachel tactically did not tell me this and sent me trotting gaily in, much to my mother’s surprise (although at first she didn’t recognise us, thinking I was back at the stable untacking him).
Thank you very much to the BSPS, particularly to the judges and stewards who worked so hard all week, and who have very generously volunteered their time and patience to give us such a fantastic week. We all so appreciate it.