The calendar was jam packed in a somewhat daunting fashion last week. I took some horses cross-country schooling and Bozzie (Cornacrew) swimming on Monday, then had a jumping day on Tuesday where I think I jumped 14 horses, most being prepped for events in the coming days. With four entered for Shelford on Wednesday, five on Thursday and three at Somerford on Friday, I called in reinforcements in the form of Mark Swan, freelance groom extraordinaire.

Having struggled to have a pole at Smiths Lawn the previous week, I had a serious case of four fault-itus at Shelford. Vinny (The Rutman) could have won but for a pole down (I also had a small case of ‘if only-itus’), and the others went well for lower placings. Shelford is an excellent use of limited space and I love taking the babies there.

We got home late and went straight to bed ready for a busy day with five, albeit with a later start which was quite appealing. Leaving at 8.30am was going to be a lie-in.

A worrying wake-up call

My phone rang at 6am with ‘Mary’ on the caller ID. Mary lives on my yard and is amazing at keeping an eye on everything through the night, despite not working for me. She’s a classic ‘old school’ horsewoman. A spade is a spade, and why waste energy with a conversation when one word will suffice. I was instantly on the alert as Mary would not be ringing for a chin wag.

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“One of these has colic.” The phone went dead. I jumped into my trousers and ran down the road like a possessed idiot. Sure enough poor Bob (Wish He Was Yours, pictured top) was sweating profusely and far from comfortable. I rung Oakham Vets, who were incredibly efficient in getting to us. With no gut sounds and an inconclusive physical examination, it was decided to take him straight to the practice following some pain relief.

As I drove I could see him trying to lie down on the CCTV system, so my groom Amanda travelled in the back with him. Luckily she arrived for work just as I was leaving. He seemed to settle and Amanda did an excellent job, but the pain relief was wearing off as we arrived at the practice.

Once there, the team at Oakham sprung into action. They were absolutely brilliant, taking it in their stride and doing everything that was right for our special chap. Taking the decision making and control of the situation away allowed me time to think and breath for a second. There he was, my friend, surrounded by veterinary experts, in significant pain, looking lost and forlorn. He quietly whinnied. It took my breath away for a second, and a tear came to my eye. The decision was taken to operate and so I left him in their capable hands.

You have to carry on

We drove back home in silence. I didn’t want to go eventing anymore. We were ridiculously late, with a very special horse going into surgery. However, I was taking an extra horse for someone else to ride and a lot of work and effort, not to mention owners’ money, had gone into getting the other horses ready for this event, so we carried on. The team at home were amazing and had Bozzie ready for me to work and the other horses that were eventing dressed and waiting to be loaded on our return.

If I’m honest the rest of the morning is a bit of a blur (I wish I was a bit tougher sometimes!) but despite having to withdraw Bob (due to his colic) and Charlie (Trewardale) because we were running so late, the rest of the horses went well. Chunky (Up And Over), who is owned by show jumper Holly Gillott, went really well and took to cross-county like a pro, as did Karin Bergvill’s Hector IV. Merna Merrett’s Lilly (Gallifords Orchid) was amazing despite having never been to a show and skipped round the four-year-old class.

At lunch time I got the call I had been waiting for. Bob was up and out of surgery, which had gone according to plan. What a relief, things were looking up! My last cross-country was at 5.30pm, so then it was full steam ahead to get back home to make the turn around in order to leave for Somerford at 4am the following morning with Rocky (Generoso), Hugo (Woodland Rock) and Bozzie.

Generoso Simon Grieve

Rocky (pictured above) contested the intermediate where once again he nailed it with a super double clear round a tough enough track. He’s such fun. Hugo was in the CIC*. He went rather green and if I’m honest I don’t think I rode to my best in the showjumping so we had three down, which was disappointing. However we both redeemed ourselves with a super duper clear round across country in his first one-star enduring very wet and rather slippery conditions. Good boy Hugo!

Cornacrew Simon Grieve

Bozzie (pictured above) had a wonderful day, with a smile on his face the whole time, especially in the dressage (the little tinker). He jumped the most super double clear, which has set us up for Burghley in a couple of weeks. We are drawn number 17, after the great Michael Jung, so I’m dressage schooling intensively like the next Carl Hester! Seriously though, I just hope there are no last-minute hiccups in our final preparations, fingers crossed.

Grievesy

PS: In the past few days Bob has started eating again and with any luck will be back home towards the end of this week. Please keep your fingers crossed for him in the meantime.