Alex Hua Tian’s blog: Badminton’s a reality as paperwork arrives

  • I apologise for the slight tardiness of my blog this week. My mobile internet stick has momentarily vanished into the bombsite that is my car.

    First things first, the reality of competing at my first Badminton has rammed home this week when the first bunch of paperwork arrived on my doorstep. I am in a very fortunate position to have two horses entered, both with enough points to have a guaranteed spot. Getting a horse as fit as it needs to be takes a lot of time and effort; I don’t think there could be anything worse than being 25th or so on the wait list.

    I took the boys and girl to Aldon at the weekend. Chico is still not quite right and so Fiddle, fresh from his success at Tweseldown, very eagerly stepped up to the mark. Fiddle along with Maggie (Magenta) and Jeans were all entered for the advanced intermediate (advanced dressage and showjumping and intermediate cross-country).

    So crack of dawn we made our way down to sunny Somerset (or is it Dorset…) and arrived in a sea of mud! I have to say, the organisers made a huge effort to make sure the going was good enough, but although the cross-country was absolutely fine, the dressage warm-up was nearly impossible.

    Let’s just say Maggie was not impressed with having to trot through fetlock deep mud, but she managed fine and did a far more forward and purposeful test. We made a few mistakes in her transitions, but the judges always seem to like her and we got a very fair and satisfying 33 penalty score.

    Fiddle was next, and to be fair to him, he wasn’t ready at all to do the movements expected of him. Although the test was very wobbly, riddled with errors and we didn’t even attempt the half-passes, I was very pleased with him. This time two years ago he would have had a tantrum and thrown his toys out of the pram. However, he stayed relaxed, even when I put pressure on him and corrected his mistakes.

    Finally, Jeans was a nightmare! Unfortunately, when he gets tense and excited he pretends that he is horse shy; really quite boring when you are sharing a 20x20m patch of mildly dry turf with 10 other competitors. Luckily I anticipated his over excitedness and got on him an hour before his test. I think it’s fair to say he was well worked before he went in and although he was still a tad short in the neck, he did a very accurate test and also scored a 33.

    On to the jumping

    Thankfully, the organisers moved the showjumping warm-up and so we were on fresh turf. Maggie felt quiet in the warm-up, almost too nice. She is always really lazy and so I have to over compensate and get her really firing and wound up. Normally this isn’t too difficult, but for some reason she felt a bit “floaty”. So as I went in, I galloped her up the long side, collected her then did a flying change and galloped her until she’d woken up sufficiently. She went on to jump a super round, clear!

    Fiddle warmed up amazingly and jumped incredibly. He always jumps best out of a deeper stride as it really helps him make a proper shape over the fence. However, he has got such a powerful backside and gives the fences so much room I end up clinging on for my life. I fear nothing on Fiddle is ever going to look graceful! He was just unlucky to rub one pole and even more unlucky when I made a chronic error in the middle of a combination. So two down wasn’t bad considering he hasn’t done a course of this size for two years.

    Jeans, unfortunately, missed his showjumping. I admit, I was late getting there. However, so was the whole class and I was always going to be pushed to be on time with three in the class. They announced the showjumping was finishing as I was trotting over. Annoyingly, three seconds later, when I came into view of the course, they were already half way through loading all the fences onto the trailer. The organisers very kindly offered back my start fee (which was cheaper than Tweseldown, I might add!) however, it was still an incredibly expensive dressage competition.

    Anyway, less whingeing! I decided not to run Maggie cross-country because she is due to do Burnham Market so with Jeans out of the picture, there was just Fiddle to tackle the intermediate course. I was very pleased with him — it may not have been as polished as Tweseldown novice, but for his first attempt at this level in two years he produced a very nice clear round.

    So Fiddle is now back in my good books, after biting me quite painfully on the backside the other day as I was bent over doing his rug. After a good telling off, a lot of loud obscenities and an icepack, Fiddle and I came to an agreement that it was never to happen again!


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