Sarah Higgins’ dressage blog: having no rules suits me well, and other things I learnt at WEG

  • Apart from the suspected trench foot from unsuitable footwear and a couple of trips to the medical centre for an allergic reaction on my face, and a few rather large fly bites on my ass (see how American I have become), my trip to Tryon (the World Equestrian Games aka WEG) went smoothly. Oh, and also the effect of the humidity on the brushing of my hair.

    Sophie Harding (team vet) and I on buggy

    Having been brought up in Wales until I was 13, I was rather underwhelmed by the rain which led to the cancellation of Sunday’s events. The plus point was our rather ‘basic’ Air BnB having Netflix available on the TV, so while others paddled their way through Sunday, I sat in our cabin and watched more episodes about serial killers, my favourite genre at the moment.

    In the end I didn’t arrive in Tryon until after Alex’s [boyfriend Chinese eventer Alex Hua Tian] dressage test. This was great because I avoided the embarrassment of the last place which he managed to hold throughout the two days of dressage. I was however there to offer my much unwanted advice on the cross-country course walk. I didn’t make it the entire way around the course because it was too hot, the grass was wet and a little muddy in places which was ruining my trainers and I had heard rumours about the large hill at the end. The jumps I did see looked very pretty and also quite big. I was unsure whether Alex and Boris were able to jump that high.

    Alex and his groom, Eleanor Jones

    I decided the best course of action was to drink wine until the point he went cross-country and look out for famouses to sign Millie’s (Boris’s owner’s daughter) autograph book.

    Boris and Alex flew around the cross-county course without incident adding a few time-faults. Showjumping was also good with just a fence down. 👏👏👏

    Everyone was very pleased with Big B, leaving Alex and I wondering when Badminton entries open already.

    I left Alex at Charlotte airport as I headed back home on a flight and he travelled straight to Belgium on another to meet the three horses he’s competing at Waregem.

    Alex Hua Tian

    A few other things I learnt about my first trip to the US:

    1. American waiters are unbelievably annoying and the length of time it takes for me to get my food because they are too busy asking if I’m having a good day is unacceptable.

    2. All forms of puddings are acceptable breakfasts.

    3. They loved my accent.

    4. The golf buggy I had access to to get around in added a huge amount of happiness to my life and I’m not sure I will survive without it. In America there are no rules if you have a golf buggy. Having no rules suits me very well.

    5. Shopping trolleys are small, especially when panic buying for the hurricane.

    Me with a very small trolley

    Back at home, I have been to a few shows recently and have had some great results with a new ride, Ellie Barlow’s lovely horse, Arthur. He is for her to ride but in the meantime I have been lucky enough to do a couple of shows with him. He is super-smart and we qualified for the regionals in two outings. Whoop.

    I arrived home on Tuesday and then it was straight to the British Dressage summer national dressage championships on Wednesday. I don’t really like going to Stoneleigh, probably because I never do very well there and I am surrounded my rugs and sashes that aren’t mine! Maybe this year going as an owner and trainer it will be more enjoyable.

    We had a Hannah Moody training morning here first before setting off.

    I had lessons on Bunny (owned by Penny Lindop) and nut job Radar. Bunny has definitely missed me and despite having not been ridden for five days, and having brand new boots on, it all went quite smoothly. We had a brief discussion over hierarchy — Bunny did attempt a bolt in walk, but then conformed and was quite posh.

    Miss Rao has also had three sessions so will undoubtedly sleep the entire way to Stoneleigh unless I feed her unlimited rich teas. Dominic and Ella were good for Tash. Very exciting for her first nationals.

    Continued below…

    All in all, we are about ready for the end of the season. The team I have at home, led by mine and Alex’s life manager, Kate Hort, have been exceptional this year, as much of the time they have had to hold the fort without much input from myself and Alex and they don’t seem to have stopped for the past few months. How lucky we are, how tolerant they are.

    Gosh this is going to take some editing, jet lag is making my brain slow…

    Until next time.


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