Badminton Horse Trials blog: Sarah Stretton’s first events of 2010

  • The event season has officially started!

    This week has been all about final preparations before our first outings. At the start of this week we loaded five horses on the lorry for a big road trip to Boomerang Stables over in Hungerford for a cross-country school. Although it is a fair way for us to travel, we always make an effort to go as the range of fences is perfect for any level of horse or rider.

    We decided to take Bobby (my Badminton ride Lazy Acres Skip On), Johnny (Highbury) and Spider (Lazy Acres Crusader) for myself to ride and my cousin Amber took her ponies Lazy Acres Buccaneer (“Barry”) and Lazy Acres Snow Patrol (“Jacko”). They all sloshed through the mud and popped every fence with ease and confidence so it was well worth the journey.

    The next journey to be made in the lorry was a trip to Weston Lawns with the youngsters. I call them the youngsters out of habit but technically they aren’t. These guys include Lazy Acres Tiger Lily (“Lily”, six-year-old owned by myself), Lazy Acres Hurricane (“Gero”, six-year-old owned by myself) and Arturo (“Derek”, eight-year-old joint owned by myself and and my aunt Naomi Franklin).

    We hired the main arena, which has a set of showjumps and simulated cross-country fences including a small water complex, steps and a ditch. This was perfect to just pop them over some different fillers and to get their feet wet. Although we could have done this at home, the ground was far too wet and it was good for them to think they were at a show and get the silly spooks out of the way. Again they showed they hadn’t forgotten their jobs and were really happy to be out and about. Bring on the first event!

    As promised I managed to get an action shot of Bobby swimming (left). We’ve been taking them once a week to Town Crier Cottage Equine Pool, only a 30-minute drive away. We’ve found this a great help to keep our horses fit while the snow was playing havoc on us all, so decided to carry on as we could definitely notice a difference in their way of going and enthusiasm.

    Off to the first events

    Luckily, the rain held off so the ground for both events last weekend was fantastic. I had a great day at Aston-le-Walls unaffiliated with Lily, Gero and Derek. All three performed lovely relaxed tests and double clears round the BE100 track. I couldn’t have asked for them to go any better, all showing they were very happy to be galloping round the beautiful countryside in the sun again.

    First stop on the way to Isleham was McDonalds for breakfast and of course fuel. Nothing like a bacon and egg McMuffin to start the day off. We had more people than horses, hence the reason for the big lorry, with Bobby, Johnny and Spider in the back extremely excited plus the usual supporters, Nanna and my mum, and not forgetting the work force, Olivia (12 years old) and Charlotte (20 years old). Olivia came to quite a few events last year and although like Amber, she is small, she certainly works hard. It was Charlotte’s first ever trip to a British Eventing event and hopefully not her last! It always helps to have lots of hands on deck when the day is jam packed as it eases the pressure on Naomi.

    In my eyes, it was another good day. Johnny did a good test and a double clear but unfortunately he had to be HC in the intermediate novice so no points.

    Spider was a very cheeky boy in the same class. He thought it would be funny to do some handstands in the arena, which slightly marred his dressage marks. He then carried that on to the showjumping, where his slight lack of concentration meant 16 faults, which is very unlike him but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for this event. A good spin round the course got his brain focused on me again.

    As for Bobby, he had electricity running through his veins. He decided walking wasn’t for him so the dressage wasn’t great, however, he made up for it in the other phases. A slight touch on a pole meant four faults and clear cross-country. He felt as fit as a fiddle and it was so nice to spin round on a horse that makes everything feel easy.

    With the cobwebs blown away I’m really looking forward to the next events — Tweseldown with Spider and Johnny, and Stafford with Derek, Gero and Lily, so here’s hoping it all goes as smoothly as last weekend.


    Read Sarah’s first diary here

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