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Early alarms, plaits and arrivals: four not-so-obvious things we’re looking forward to when we go eventing again

Eventing is so close to re-starting we can nearly taste it – the first events of the restarted season are just two weeks away as we emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown. Of course not everyone will be able to head out immediately depending on their individual circumstances, but we can all dream…

There are the obvious things to look forward to: the chance to test yourself in a competition environment, to find out if your lockdown training has been worthwhile and the thrill of flying across country or clearing all the showjumps.

But we’ve missed other aspects of competition day too – here are four not-so-obvious parts of eventing that we’re looking forward to…

1. Early starts. Usually getting up at 4am (or 3am… or 2am…) doesn’t fill us with joy, but there is something about getting up early on an eventing morning – the realisation it’s competition day, riding your dressage test in your head as you get dressed, the tingling of excitement as you go out into the quiet world to see your horse.

2. Bathing and plaiting your horse. Particularly if the weather is good and you’re not in a hurry, having a good excuse to get the hose and buckets out and work up a good soapy lather is wonderful. It’s super satisfying to see your pride and joy all clean and shiny – and once he’s plaited too, you’re just so proud of him. Ok, so if you’re doing this the day before an event he’ll probably manage to get filthy overnight and rub half the plaits out, but you got an Instagram-worthy picture before he did it, right?

3. Driving in the gate at the event. Everyone talks about driving into Badminton, but frankly we get enough of a high arriving at Little Middle Under Bottom one-day event. It’s all in the expectation – this could be the day you do your best ever dressage test, go clear inside the time across country, win your section… the reality that you’re probably going to finish 23rd again with a slightly mediocre performance (“But it’s definitely getting better…”) hasn’t kicked in yet.

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4. The satisfaction of seeing your horse tucked up in his stable or happily roaming the field after a successful run. Whether you won, collected your first rosette or overcame a personal demon, there’s little to compare to the quiet satisfaction of giving your horse his feed and a final goodnight pat after a good day.

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