Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed

  • As happens every morning, my six-year-old son climbed into bed with me at 6.30 this morning, although today he said in a sad and dejected little voice “but why can’t we go to Badminton this year, mummy?”

    I started by explaining that if they have more entries than they can take, then there’s a waitlist, and that the cut off for horses to be replaced off the waitlist was 2pm on Sunday. But then I simplified it all by repeating an expression I was often quoted when growing up: “it’s because sometimes life is unfair and we don’t always get what we want” (the second part was “and the sooner you learn to accept that the, better”, but thought I’d soften it by leaving that bit off this time!).

    It obviously wasn’t meant to be but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a bit disappointed. Badminton only comes around once a year, and having a horse capable of it, qualified for it, fit enough/sound enough/wanting to do it comes around significantly less frequently.

    Having had the charity race and Badminton as my two major goals this spring, it does feel quite deflating not to actually take part in either. But, such is life, and bearing in mind my recent challenges, I’m very proud of the fact that I was fit enough to ride in that race (if it hadn’t been for the fall from a young horse, which resulted in a seriously bruised/infected kidneys) and if we had received that phonecall saying we were in to Badminton, we’d have been there and would’ve hopefully done ourselves justice.

    I’ve still got some challenges ahead, but so does everyone! It may not have all gone quite to plan but I have got a humongous amount to be very thankful for. I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve got a wonderful horse that would’ve been able to compete at Badminton if we had the opportunity. Not only does he shine at the very highest level of our sport and hold his own on the world stage, he combines these super powers with being the most perfect horse/best friend/therapist and mother’s hack on a daily basis.

    During the Easter holidays, we had some memory making moments — Toby and I share a birthday (yes, I gave birth on my birthday… and yes, as corny as it may sound, Toby really was the best present I could ever have wished for!). Anyway, we had a picnic party at the beach followed by some riding in the sea. We were joined by an event rider who’s ridden at three Olympics and I was very proud that he was suitably impressed by how saintly and versatile Miley (pictured top competing at Bicton) in his lead-rein/beach donkey role!

    Birthday beach fun

    We also packed our overnight bags and had a couple of horsey sleepovers in Dorset with my childhood ‘bestie’, Caroline. It just so happens that our children are now also ‘besties’ so we spent some cherished time all together, including a group hack and a trip to the local Pony Club show for Toby’s first ever jumping class. We successfully negotiated the ‘pole on the ground’ clear round and then had an epic result by finishing sixth in the large 25cm! It was a huge sense of pride and achievement for him, especially as there was a mounted prize giving (…even if Toby went in bareback as he’d lent his saddle to someone!).

    Toby in the 25cm

    At least one of us was able to win a rosette that weekend though, as his mummy threw away a top two placing doing the novice at Bovington by collecting six time-faults in the showjumping! Fiddle however was fantastic and I was really pleased with her 29 dressage and double clear, especially as she missed two week’s work prior to the event while I was in hospital/poorly and my focus was on Miley. I only admit this as it is life in the real world — things don’t always go as planned and I think if we wait until everything is perfect, time and opportunities might sometimes slip us by.

    Happy hacking with best friends

    So for now, I will continue looking forward — living and working with horses teaches us to be pretty resilient and adaptable, so we look to our next plan. For Miley the options really are Tatterstalls or Luhmühlen — I haven’t done either so as well as fulfilling the ‘horsey criteria’ it’s fun to go to different events these days, and with Tatts falling over half term week meaning Toby can come with us, plus it having a class for my younger horse, Fiddle, it gets the vote.

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    This week, I’m wishing everyone the very best of luck at Badminton, as always it’s set to be a great competition — I’ll be watching as much as possible but have now entered Fiddle for the novice at Keysoe, which is on Badminton cross-country day so will be relying on the great coverage from afar. My sister lives one mile from Keysoe so it also provides a great opportunity to spend some quality family time over the Bank Holiday weekend and Toby can hang out with his older cousins who themselves are doing well in the pony and junior ranks. Our travelling little circus of Miley, Fiddle, Prince the pony, Toby and I will have our bags packed for more sleepovers and adventures!


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