H&H reflects on 2012: the lows of the weather, the high of the Olympics

  • I’m sure I’m not alone among eventers in saying 2012 has been characterised by the huge lows of cancellations and the huge high of the Olympics.

    On the weather front, I’m one of the lucky ones — I no longer event myself, so I wasn’t losing money, nor suffering weekly disappointment, nor trying to keep a fit horse amused with nowhere to go. I’m also not an organiser, with a year’s work and thousands of pounds invested in a water-logged field.

    In H&H towers, we’ve had frequent cries of “I need to drop that page for xxx horse trials” and weekend text messages between freelancers and staff members as we re-allocate space. Reporters have got used to last-minute deployment to re-scheduled events.

    Badminton was a strange one — I was spending the 10 preceding days in Cornwall on a family holiday, so I heard the news via twitter as we prepared to head out for a blustery coastal walk.

    Again I was fortunate, cushioned from the blow by being away, although an extra few days holiday certainly didn’t make up for being deprived of my Badminton fix.

    As Chatsworth too went down, I found myself asking if we would be forced to choose our Olympic team via a tiddlywinks tournament…

    Enough of the doom and gloom.

    Like everyone else I will remember the Olympics for the wonderful performance of Britain’s teams, the amazing vista and huge success of the Greenwich venue. So instead of repeating that, here are a few of my personal London 2012 memories:

    • Working like a demon on our preview pull-out — “a programme for every reader” sounds great until you realise someone’s got to write all those biogs… but it was worth it when we spotted lots of people using it at Greenwich.
    • The twitter-alympics — this Games has been played out on social media to an unprecedented extent. The British eventing team being leaked through twitter — leading to staff rushing back to the office and late-night calls to columnists to alter our pages — was a prime example.
    • Coming into work early on cross-country day with a knot in my stomach — checking into twitter it seemed every eventer in Britain was awake and buzzing, sending good luck messages, getting horses ridden so they could spend the day in front of the telly.
    • Providing H&H Live during the cross-country from a meeting room in our central London office alongside H&H website editor Carol Phillips, watching it all on television and sharing the experience with followers around the world — a strangely sanitised cross-country day experience, but oddly exciting.
    • Going home after that long day — with the prospect of an even longer press day to follow — and realising on arriving that I’d left my door keys in the office. Thank god my brother lives nearby and has an air bed…
    • Two 20-hour press days on the Olympic eventing and team dressage pages — particularly “interesting” when all the lights went out at midnight, leaving us toiling in the dark, with editor Lucy Higginson raiding desktop lights from other magazines…
    • Waking the day after that eventing press day to realise Roger Federer was first up on the Olympic tennis court I had tickets for — all thoughts of a lie-in were soon forgotten.

    So, that was my 2012. How was it for you?


    Horse & Hound celebrates an incredible 12 months for the equestrian world in our 2012 Review of the Year magazine (6 December, 2012). Grab your copy from your local stockist or buy a digital issue online now.

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