Everyone keeps asking me whether it’s difficult to come down after the excitement of Badminton Horse Trials and get back into the daily routine at home.
Actually, until it’s all over, you don’t quite realise how much pressure everyone has been under. It’s nice to sit back now and enjoy the memories without having to concentrate on whether I’m going to ride Jeans and Maggie (Magenta) once or twice today, when I need to walk the course again, when I have to do my next interview (Alex is pictured below doing a sponsors’ course walk) and whether I’m taking the inside line or outside line to the corner!
Maggie is out in the field as I type enjoying her short break. The results at Badminton have made my life even more difficult in terms of who will now be my number one for the World Equestrian Games. Jeans (below) was my number one, but after his naughty stop at the Huntsman’s Close, then our mistake at the open corner, compared with Maggie’s unrelenting consistency it’s easy to lean towards Maggie (pictured above right at Badminton). There are too many factors to think about (travelling being my main concern for Maggie) to make any firm decision until a bit closer to the date.
After the stress of Badminton, Mark (my trusty groom) and I felt we needed a work day out to blow off a bit of steam. So, we gave the horses a day off and whipped down the road to Thorpe Park. I’ve never laughed so much on a roller coaster! We thought we’d jump into the deep end and take on Saw the Ride. Mark screamed so loud I was crying with laughter by the end of it! I haven’t been there for quite a while, when it had a couple of poxy log flumes, but now they have Stealth. The acceleration is brutal. I opened my mouth to scream then found I couldn’t physically shut it until we came to a shuddering halt.
Looking back to Withington
With all the goings on at Badminton, I neglected to mention Withington Manor the week beforehand in any of my diaries. I took Fiddle (ESB Irish Fiddle) to run around the advanced. It’s been almost two years since he last ran at this level (Chatsworth 2008) so he had to run here and then at Chatsworth this year with a qualifying result, otherwise he downgrades to two-star.
After a surprisingly respectable dressage test we had a couple down in the showjumping. He has such a big stride I have to support him in front to keep him together. However, with the bigger oxers I ended up holding him off the front rail so he came down on the back rail. Our partnership is still growing so we’re both learning things about each other.
The cross country was something in itself (below). Approaching fence six I had a good galloping stride from about six away. Two strides away, Fiddle put the brakes on suddenly, then launched from half a stride away. At this point I thought we were going down. Fiddle straddled the fence, both hind legs falling between the two oxer rails. Somehow he managed to extricate himself and find his feet the other side. I slammed my nose into his neck and with my eyes streaming thinking I’d just busted my nose we galloped on. I considered pulling him up to check him, but he felt very sound.
Every single fence we had a similar experience and so never got into anything resembling a rhythm. Although it was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, he managed to get himself out of trouble just as often as he created the trouble! We finished clear but a bit bruised and battered. It turned out he had lost a shoe which explained everything. I think it must have happened on the approach to fence 6.
Anyway, tomorrow we leave with Fiddle for Chatsworth. Hopefully we’ll have a happier time there!