Lucinda recalls her cross-country round at the Los Angeles Olympics
Regal Realm [Ponch] was a wiry, gutsy type and I knew he could cope with the cross-country course at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. It was a hot, bright day with a bit of a breeze.
The questions started early on with the course-designer making the most of the depressions and mounds. At the fourth fence you rode up a mound and then jumpedoff over a big oxer, which meant you landed about 7ft further down.
Then came the first water with its Normandy Bank, which Ponch jumped well. After that, it was off to the Western-style saloon, complete with bar and inn sign – you had to jump through the lot.
It was quite a twisty course and Ponch was a very fast horse, which meant lots of balancing between fences.
At the lake, a series of steps rose up in the water like a waterfall. All I could see were Ponch’s ears as his little neck recoiled towards me. I had to remember to keep kicking, which doesn’t come naturally on a horse who is running on with you.
Riding Ponch, everything seemed to happen so fast; that was his hallmark. He was so quick and athletic, his rhythm was different to that of any other horse and his feet seemed to hit the ground with a staccato effect.
When we crossed the finish, I was glad there wasn’t another half-mile to go. Ponch wasn’t whacked but he hadn’t finished as fresh as he usually did.
I handed him to a steward while I went to weigh in, but then went back to him. When you’ve been through something like that with your horse, you want to be with him for a while afterwards.
There was a hugely euphoric feeling when we finished, but the overwhelming emotion was relief. When the relief subsided, I was able to recall the highs and lows of the round.
The reason the whole thing was so epic was because it was theGames. The whole Olympic spirit completely imbibes me; it did then and it still does now. To me, the Olympics will always be the pinnacle.
Of all the wonderful moments I’ve had, this one really sticks in my mind. I was incredibly luckyto ride a little horse like Ponch, who so revelled in his jumping and galloping.