Stratford Hills PC ODE

  • My granddaughter (GD) was riding three horses in the open class at Stratford Hills ODE, who will henceforth be referred to as the spotty one (SO), the grey and the bay.

    I don’t ride, and never have, but I’m in charge of recording the event for posterity as I have a camcorder so I go and position myself at the edge of Arena B and wait for GD and SO to arrive.

    The test begins and SO and GD are looking relaxed, but about three minutes in SO decides to bronc across the arena. I think this looks quite clever but GD doesn’t, and neither does the judge. They get a “1, gross disobedience, well ridden” for that element. SO completes the test with a wicked grin on his face.

    Next comes the grey, who does an obedient test but tilts her head for much of the time. Then the bay, who thinks she would prefer not to enter the arena but reluctantly gives in, starts her test. When it comes to the halt she wriggles backwards, rears and then fly-leaps forwards before carrying on as if nothing has happened.

    I walk over to the show jumping arena with my chair-in-a-bag and get the camcorder out. The jumps look quite big to me but GD isn’t “bovvered”. SO, who usually goes clear, has two down, the grey has a refusal but clears it easily after being given a slap, and the bay has a careless pole at the first. GD’s mum is kept busy back at the lorry trying to keep pace with change over of horses, tack, numbers etc.

    I decamp to a good vantage point on the cross-country course and watch a few go through. The mother of GD’s friend arrives to watch her son and as SO leaves the starting box, the commentator announces that GD’s friend seems to have vanished. His mother gasps and turns green, but then he appears over the top of the hill and finishes clear and in one piece.

    Meanwhile, SO seems to be going fine and I perch on top of a dismantled jump, which enables me to see quite a lot of the course. The only problem is that I need to rotate almost 360 degrees to follow horse and rider — a potentially hazardous course of action — but I manage with just a small gap in the filming and without falling off and breaking my neck.

    In due course, they reappear over the brow of the hill, clear the three jumps in front of me and gallop for home. The grey is next and I think the jumps are bigger than I have seen her attempt before, but she flies round and is obviously enjoying every minute.

    The commentator is asking for the next competitor to come to the start box or everyone will go home, but the only one left to go is the bay so I mutter to myself that GD is still out on the course. The grey finishes with a couple of time faults and after a short delay the bay appears and gallops home to finish clear.

    I trek back across the field to the lorry — GD is gloomy as the dressage and show jumping weren’t up to her usual standard, but tomorrow is another day. I, of course, think she’s brilliant. Well she is my granddaughter!

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