Wahooo, I’m back! For those of you that did not follow me last year, I’m Carrie and my horse Sara (Donner Sara B) and I have qualified for the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup championship at 90cm for the second year in a row.
Qualification this year did not run quite as smoothly as last year (when we qualified on our first attempt). We had managed to pick up three regional final tickets with wins at Kelsall and Llanymench and a fourth place at Somerford Park, for which I managed to cause a little bit of mayhem during the prize giving. This was due to the fact I realised that they had placed an hors concours rider in second and all the prizes had to be redistributed, but it meant that I moved up from fifth to fourth for that all important regional final ticket.
My first regional final was at Skipton in August where I successfully managed to mess up all three phases! Our dressage test was not our best, we had the last showjump down and a miscalculation on my stop watch saw us picking up two time-penalties to leave us in lying in 18th.
Next stop was Weston Park in October which felt a very long time after the first attempt. The dressage was good but last-fence-itis struck again and despite finishing on 29.3 penalties, it was only good enough for 10th. Luckily I had already made contingency plans to head to Oasby for the last regional final, though this did mean missing half of my friend’s hen party — luckily she is a horsey person and agreed that a regional final was far more important.
It rained the during entire three-hour journey to Oasby. I was not feeling positive as Sara HATES MUD! The rain finally subsided as I put the last stud in, and the sun came out when we were heading down for dressage.
The warm-up resembled your average quagmire. I did feel sorry for the poor girl that had spent two hours cleaning her grey horse only for it to head in for the test looking like it had just finished a day’s hunting! But despite this and being the second last of the day, the arenas had held up well. We were a little cautious in case of slipping to get a 28.3 which put us in fourth just outside the qualifying spot after the first phase.
If the dressage was a quagmire then the showjumping was more akin to a swamp. The organisers had done their best and had moved the fences onto fresh ground but the corners were still deep and the fillers had got a good splattering.
Now, I don’t know if I had mentioned that Sara HATES MUD. We came around the corner to the first fence in a lovely balanced canter, she saw the mud and if she could have got away with running backwards I think she would have done. Our lovely straight line quickly turned into one that a python would have been proud of, but a quick tap down the shoulder and she went. This is pretty much how the rest of the round went. On the plus side however she was backing off so much she didn’t get long in her canter so no last-fence-itis for a clear. Showjumping had clearly been causing problems and we were now up to second, just inside the qualifying spot.
The ground for the cross-country was really good. It was a short course but was still causing its fair share of problems. Our only sticky moment was at the third to last. Sara took offence at the intermediate fence that she had to go past and leapt sideways leaving me hanging out of the side door, and meant that I had a 45 degree angle to our hedge, but a big kick and we cleared it with about a foot to spare. We were home three seconds inside the optimum time and Sara and I took the win. We had done it! We were back off to Badminton — there’s nothing quite like leaving it until the last minute.
We have now started our training again and are gearing up for the season. I am hoping that the experience at Badminton last year will help to let me know what I am letting myself in for. Our aim this year is to do better than last year when we finished around mid-table in 71st.
I’ll keep you posted.
Carrie (and Sara)