“We have heating!” I announced from the comfort of my new lorry before I hopped out into the freezing cold of Osberton unaffiliated one-day-event in the last weekend of February. I cannot tell you how much of a luxury it is to have heating, seating, cooker, microwave, oh just about everything — it’s so cool (well warm and cosy actually!). I found myself not wanting to leave the comfort of it, whereas normally I’d be keen to go and get warm on a horse.
I took Vinnie (The Rutman) and Wally (Wallstreet VB) to Osberton getting them off to a head start. Both went round really nicely and it was a good introduction to cross-country (Wally’s first time) and getting them on grass for jumping and dressage tests.
As the girls had lots to do at home, I found myself on my lonesome, trucking off to cross-country schooling (I met owners there), showjumping and dressage over the following three days. Complete strangers and friends are very generous in helping me swap horses around in the lorry — it’s much appreciated. I remember a number of years ago being on my own with four horses, and very few other entries at a show, unable to find a poor unsuspecting helper to hold horses in the lorry park, missing my turn and therefore having to jump them over bigger tracks in later classes — not ideal.
By Thursday I was feeling pretty knackered but the prospect of going eventing the following weekend spurred me on.
On the Saturday, May (Willeys Mayday), Wally and Freddie (Mr Fahrenheit III) kicked off my season at Isleham Horse Trials in Cambridgeshire and, though I do say so myself, in style with a double victory. Both Carrie Dewes’ May (in the BE90 open) and Merna Merrett and Catherine O’Connors Wally (in the BE100) won. Awesome.
Freddie got a bit stuck in the mud showjumping, but stormed round the cross-country with a much improved dressage test. I wasn’t sure that after such a super first day it was sensible to go back the next, but much to my excitement, things were only going to get better.
King (Traveller Royale) dug deep (literally) through very deep going to scoop a second place in the intermediate with a dressage score of 26 and then Vinnie surpassed himself with a much more relaxed test and double clear in the novice, securing my third win of the weekend and a first ever win for his ecstatic owner Jo Rutter.
It was so good to be back eventing on some really lovely horses and seeing the usual great characters. From Roly (who owns King) strolling across the dressage collecting ring with her dogs in luminous rugs, spooking every horse (including her own) as she went, to Piggy French’s mum, Kate, from ringside, exclaiming “Yes Si!”, and clenching her fist at me “…..well done,” as Vinnie cleared the final fence in the showjumping.
It’s very exciting to know that Pig is expecting a baby and I can’t think of a better partnership than her and her boyfirend Tom March.
It was wonderful also to chat to Clem Tompsett MBE, the Isleham landowner and widely proclaimed “king of carrots” who was there watching. (He missed last year owing to serious illness). I’ll never forget him giving my dad short shrift when our dog wasn’t on a lead at Pony Club some 20 years ago. He is passionate about his event, especially in making it rider and horse friendly, but most importantly in running it for charity — a top man.
A couple of days grace, and I’m off to Oasby for some more eventing excitement. I’ll keep you posted.