Enjoy some behind-the-scenes footage of cross-country legend Lucinda Green riding Nicola Wilson’s world and European team gold medallist, Opposition Buzz, and read what Lucinda had to say about her ride.
It was blowing horizontally the day of my visit, but Dodi (as he is known at home) was remarkably good with all the outdoor arena sides flapping — delightful compared to my own horse, Bill, who flinches at the twitch of a leaf.
Nicola warned me he is quite lazy at home — he gets bored and lives for his jumping and cross-country — but you certainly feel safe as soon as you climb on. His size — not too big or wide — is right up my street. He is terrifically light-footed in all his paces and, though his trot is lovely, he is a completely different horse in canter. His whole front end comes up and rather than feeling different strides that step through his body, he glides, as though you are sitting on a slipper being pulled over ice.
You feel you are sitting on rows of gentle springs — he is very soft, but not in a big “warmbloody” way. Everything is just there ready to explode.
I was worried about doing very much with Dodi because he’d only recently finished his post-Badminton break. But Nicola was determined that I should jump him.
They put up three fences, including a ridiculous skinny only about 2ft 6in wide.
I have never been in a Harrier jump jet, but I imagine it must feel much like this horse elevating over a jump. All of a sudden you are in the air — nothing has changed — you just find yourself sailing upwards. Though we did not jump anything above 3ft, Nicola must spend ages in orbit.
She told me: “I hear all these ‘whoooos’ from the crowd and I think, ‘you think it looks hair-raising, what do you think it feels like…?’”
Nicola then divulged that she hardly ever jumps him at home and ordinarily would not have jumped him again until July. She used to jump him often to try to teach him to do it properly. Now he’s proved himself, every jump is an unnecessary jar.
As he’s grown older, Dodi has become stronger and Nicola has swapped from a snaffle bit to a Waterford to go cross-country and, post Badminton, is wondering which is the next best slightly stronger one.
Read more of Lucinda’s thoughts on the British team’s pathfinder in Horse & Hound magazine (24 June, 2011).