Firstly thank you all for listening in to my blog here on Horseandhound.co.uk. It’s Saturday and I’ve just finished the cross-country and I’m very excited as we went clear. A few time faults but better to be home safe and sound!
This morning I woke up thinking ‘oh my goodness, why do I do this? I feel terribly sick’. I think that’s quite normal for riders and if I didn’t feel nervous I’d worry what was wrong with me. I got up and went for a nice positive final course walk and I was really happy with all my lines and the fences.
Then I was really looking forward to getting on Elliot (Big El). It’s always nice to take your horse for a bit of a canter and let them see the crowds, because the crowds arrive really early so than it’s not a shock when they come out for their cross-country round. It’s nice to get on your horse and just feel comfortable in your jumping saddle and think ‘oh wow, I’m sat on a horse I love, know’.
So I took him for a bit of a canter and he came back really exuberant because the Shetland Grand National was going on as I was coming back and there was loads of applause and he thought it was brilliant and all for him!
Then we let him have a nice quiet morning. We came up to watch the screens that are provided for the riders. I watched William’s round and watching him as the first rider out on the course really filled me with confidence. I know I’m not William, but watching him ride round really positively and it rode really well, and then I watched several more and they made it look like a nice flowing course.
I think the designers have done a really good job of the course here. It hasn’t caused too many problems and from the sport’s point of view, it’s been a good picture. There hasn’t been anything awful or sad happen, but it has caused a few problems so it hasn’t been a walk in the park, and it’s certainly been enjoyable to watch for the audience.
I loved my round. He was brilliant! It was a really good galloping course. The horse and riders that rode positively had a good ride and I certainly had that in my game plan, and it seemed to work. He had a few moments where he switched off a little bit, but I gave him a little reminder if he gave me a dodgy jump but there weren’t many and I was delighted with him.
He slipped a little bit in Huntsman’s Close to the gate, which I know has caused a lot of problems in the past, but I hunt a lot so it didn’t worry me. A number of people have asked me about it, because his back end went from under me, but I just picked him up, and he picked himself up, and it was fine.
Then it was on to the dreaded quarry, where I had my spectacular fall last year. It is quite a good long stretch up hill from Huntsman’s to the quarry on a horse that is starting to tire — he still felt great but was starting to feel it. I just did my best to get him back and had a great ride through the quarry. It was good to get that one out of the way!
When I passed through the finish line I was ecstatic, and everyone who was with me was ecstatic. The horse finished great, recovered great and looked on top of the world. He was real perky and looking around when he finished. We will let him rest now and do what we need to be ready for the trot up. I didn’t have any moments on the course where I think he damaged himself or has any reason to be sore for tomorrow so that’s a good thing.
So that’s it from me today. I’ll look forward to speaking to you all tomorrow after the dreaded trot-up and show jumping!