Badminton Horse Trials blog: Sarah Stretton’s mixed week

  • Badminton entered, fingers crossed we have been accepted otherwise this diary will end suddenly!

    Although entering Badminton Horse Trials is a massive thing, it didn’t feel different to any normal event, apart from more forms to fill in. I think it’ll really kick in when I can see my name in the line-up. So far all the website says is “entries closed” so I’ll just have to sit and wait.

    This week Gail Williams, my horses’ physiotherapist, came out to give all the horses their post competition MOT (pictured left).

    Gail has played, and still plays, a massive part in the Lazy Acres Team, especially with Bobby (my Badminton ride, Lazy Acres Skip On). If it wasn’t for Gail’s dedication and expertise I know Bobby wouldn’t be the horse he is today. He came to me in 2004 as a problem horse to school and be educated. His owner at the time could not cope with him; he kept bolting and bucking for no apparent reason and had thrown her many times, finally breaking her ankle seriously.

    Of course, he also didn’t fail to show me this side of his nature as there have been many a time Bobby and myself have gone from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds, the outcome — me always covered in sand!

    Gail stepped in, and after plenty of examination, found out he was suffering from a sciatic nerve irritation. Basically, one minute he’d be fine and the next he would have a sharp sensation a bit like an electric shock that then caused him to totally flip. After plenty of visits the sciatica went but we always keep regular check-ups to make sure it never comes back.

    However, Bobby still has his moments— at Gatcombe last year in the British open championships, I was warming up for the showjumping, landed over an oxer about 3ft high and Bobby’s head had disappeared between his legs. Next thing I knew we were in full-on bronco mode (pictured right). Somehow I managed to stay on but there have been many times I haven’t.

    Mixed fortunes

    Spider (Lazy Acres Crusader) went very well at Tweseldown, finishing fourth in his intermediate section (pictured top) so we were very pleased with his performance, especially as I was suffering from an infection in my calf which is a very inconvenient place to have one. Unfortunately the pain got a little too much when it was Johnny’s (Highbury) turn cross-country so I retired him.

    I only had one horse to go to Stafford because the other two disappointingly got balloted, so I thought I’d take Bobby to work there. Bobby is on top of the world (in his head anyway) at the mo.

    Let’s just say my day started well but went downhill fast. Lilly (Lazy Acres Tiger Lilly) performed a beautiful test, scoring 23.5, so I was chuffed, but that’s where the good bit ends!

    I hopped onto Bobby to exercise him and must have been working him for probably 5 minutes before my backside was placed on the floor. The culprit of the bronco session that followed was a Twix wrapper floating by in the wind.

    Then very unusually disappointing showjumping and cross-country rounds from Lilly just topped the day off.

    However, there was a bright side to Stafford. My boyfriend, Craig Barr, has recently taken over his sister Kim’s horse, Supermac, and managed to pull off a win in his section, so I’m very pleased for him.

    Hopefully, Gail will be able to come and run her hands over Lilly to see if there is anything making her feel uncomfortable and try to find a reason for her strange behaviour. Apart from that it’s a week at home and then Swalcliffe at the weekend. Let’s hope the sun keeps shining.


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