Relatable Ronnie: the eventing day

  • Join Ronnie and his owner Penny as they encounter some horse and human moments we could probably all relate to...

    Penny has decided that the moment can be delayed no longer. She loves her training sessions, but they cannot be justified if she doesn’t get a grip, register herself and Ronnie, and ‘make an entry’.

    Mondays and Tuesdays are work days for Penny, so Ronnie has time in the field to relax and, with serious endeavour, put on as much undesirable weight (in Penny’s view) as possible. Wednesdays, however, see him up the lorry ramp bright and early and off to Penny’s jump trainer. Ronnie enjoys this arrangement, he is not sure why Penny requires all this practise to jump a 90cm fence, but he is happy to oblige — most of the time. The odd ‘Well what stride was THAT supposed to be? I had to stop’ is necessary to keep Penny coming back next week. Ronnie never has a pole down though, he made that error once and had to apply himself to an exercise that required too much effort.

    Ronnie is not so keen on Thursday evenings when there are no jumps in the arena he visits with Penny. He is learning to manage these sessions by dint of a varying selection of diversionary tactics. For example, he is convinced that there really are tigers under the tree at the end of this arena. Once he has been ‘asked’ to check this out, however, he actually finds that most of the time his workout isn’t too demanding. By the end of the evening he is happy to say that Penny is red in the face and sweating and he is pleasantly warm. Why he is washed down and not Penny is an enduring mystery to Ronnie.
    So that’s it. Penny’s finger hovers over the choices of registration. Has a quick dash to the loo, and takes the plunge.

    After another series of similar breaks, the entries for the first events are made. The die is cast.

    Penny is actually an old hand (very old, some would say) at eventing. Ok, so she has had a break for a few years, and new classes have been introduced in her absence, but by and large things can’t have changed that much, surely? Certainly the nerves, which arrive unbidden 48 hours before the day itself, are very familiar. The ‘Game on Face’ is recognised, with horror, by The Husband.

    The day arrives. All too familiar to that stalwart The Husband are the succession of nervous yawns emitted by his wife the whole way to The Park. They arrive, predictably, too early, which means that The Husband can pour himself a cup of coffee and get his first mouthful of Twix swallowed before he is commanded to leave it and head for the secretary. He sighs. It’s all nerves. Quite why his wife still wants to put herself through this at 60+ years old is a puzzle he will never resolve, but somewhere deep down, he admires her spirit.

    Penny is in the dressage warm-up. She can’t imagine why all these children are riding round it, surely they are the Pony Club runners? Slowly light dawns that they are also warming up on very smart ponies. Strangely, Penny cannot hear the voices of anxious mothers calling advice to their offspring. They appear to be standing around the edge muttering to themselves. Again, Penny slowly realises that, in fact, they are talking into mics and their children are wearing ear pieces. She feels suddenly alone and very out of date.

    After a reasonable test, Ronnie gets a nice bit of R&R in the lorry and The Husband gets route marched round the cross-country course at top speed and he has an internal calibration system — the faster he has to walk, the more nervous his wife is! He cannot work out, however, why his wife seems quite happy with these fences, but when they stand by the showjumping arena she turns green and wobbly.

    So this is it — THE MOMENT. Penny walks Ronnie down to the showjumping warm-up after another visit to the Portaloo. The whispering mothers have abandoned the ear pieces and requisitioned the practise fence. Professionals appear from nowhere laughing and chatting as they approach these fences with consummate ease and control. Penny spots the upright at a suitable height and nips in to have a go. She will attempt the parallel next. A groom steps in and raises the fence on her approach and her squeaky voice calling out “jumping please” doesn’t carry. Penny waits by the rope that will soon be taken back to allow her into the ring. The fences look vast, the course endless, she is too old for this. Get a grip.

    Ronnie is always delighted by the number of mints he receives for a few minutes of fun. Penny is off his back, puffing slightly, and totally delighted. He saunters back to the lorry for another patting session.

    The Husband walks up the hill onto the cross-country course to a good vantage point for videoing. He was fractionally too late for the dressage and forgot to press record for the showjumping, but now he is seriously on the case. In actual fact, it has been his turn to visit the Portaloo. He tries to hide from his wife his real feelings about cross-country. He cannot imagine how she heads off to the start with a cheerful wave.

    It is over. The Husband meets his wife and Ronnie back at the lorry. Everyone is beaming. It won’t show that the video is shaking, he can blame the wind. Penny is not breathing that hard, in fact, for once, Ronnie is possibly breathing harder than she is.

    Article continues below…

    You might also be interested in:

    The routine of washing down and cooling off is wonderfully familiar to Penny. The adrenaline high is just as good. The feeling of oneness with her wonderful little horse, who gave her a peach of a ride, is the best feeling in the world. The Husband settles down, uninterrupted for his coffee and Twix.

    Coming back from the prize-giving, Penny glances at the BE100 showjumping track. She is adamant that is definitely smaller than her BE90 and quite within her reach… soon!

    We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.

    You may like...