I usually make my British Eventing (BE) entries on the morning of ballot date, regardless of how many entries an event has at that point. I’m risk averse and a natural rule follower.
Eridge was different. I wanted to enter, but held off, because my ride Alfie had been involved in a freak accident — I’m always sceptical when people say this, but this really was the definition of the term.
Ten days before Brightling, Alfie was quietly having his supper in the field, as every other day. Suddenly a deer appeared, scaring him and causing him to bolt.
The gate into our muck bay was open — because the wheelbarrow was out, for poo picking — and the entrance just had a chain across it. We’ve been doing things this way for 30 years, with all the different horses we’ve kept in this field.
Having taken fright, Alfie shot under the chain, ran up a wooden ramp on to the metal muck trailer and leapt off it.
All round, this extraordinary incident could have been a lot worse. Alfie could have taken off round several thousand acres of common land in just a fly rug or he could have jumped the other way on to the trailer’s hitching mechanism, instead of having a 4ft drop on to grass. A small cut to a back leg and four days off due to some minor swelling feels like a lucky escape.
The whole accident proves just how unpredictable horses are, even when you think you know them well and follow a regular routine.
Back to the entries dilemma. After the interrupted build-up, I wanted to run Alfie at Brightling before entering Eridge, in case his leg filled up again. Like any rider on a budget, I didn’t want to risk losing entry fees if I had to withdraw.
After a good run at Brightling and with Alfie’s legs cold and clean, I entered Eridge first thing on Monday. I was therefore sad to read just hours later that the event might not run due to low entries — the organisers were urging everyone to enter to that day, so they could assess whether the event was viable — and then to learn of its subsequent cancellation.
Speculation is rife online about why entries are down. Has the cost of eventing finally caught up with competitors? Has the looming shadow of Brexit made people more careful with their money? Has a spring with few cancellations meant people have less need to pack runs in through the summer?
Whatever way, it’s a huge shame to lose a lovely event in Eridge and I hope it can return next year.
I wonder how many people are unaware of the various unhorsey benefits BE membership offers. Through my membership, I recently bought an Inspired Rewards Sainsbury’s reloadable card, which means I get 4% off my supermarket shopping. The card is pre-loadable and you pay £96 for £100-worth of credit (or the equivalent discount for whatever amount you put on it).
Discounts are available on more than 60 brands via reloadable or gift cards (or sometimes both), from Ikea to Next to Pizza Express. You can access the discount cards by going to the Join/Member Benefits section of the BE website.
Ref Horse & Hound; 11 July 2019