Danielle Dunn’s Badminton first-timer blog: it didn’t quite go to plan

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  • Hi guys,

    So it didn’t quite go to plan…

    The whole event at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is about the Saturday, which is cross-country day. That’s what everyone comes to watch and that’s what every competitor wants to get through. Everything is all about building up to Saturday, both as soon as you get here and in the weeks and months building up to it.

    I felt fine when I woke up and then as the morning progressed everything got more real. I don’t think people realise what goes in to actually getting ready — everything down to making sure the ice is in the right place — there really is never a moment of quiet.

    I watched for a good hour from the riders’ canteen to see how the course was riding and because it was my first one, I didn’t really know what to expect. It still felt a bit surreal and I was a bit numb to it all.

    The minute I was on Zo (Zocarla BLH) it was all better. I had that feeling that everything was going to be OK. In the warm-up she was buzzing and that’s when I knew she was totally ready to tackle this. I was going in 100% ready. She was MEGA. I just knew she was going to jump well but it all goes past in quite a blur. It all went by so quickly.

    Walking into the main arena to start was just crazy. It really got the heart rate going.

    My brother played a big part with helping with mind games in the last few minutes. As he’s a motocross rider, he understands the pressure and the adrenaline rush and helps me cope with it all. I looked at him and he talked to me in the right way to keep me normal. Key words like breathe and composure that just mean something to us.

    I was given 30 seconds to go and I didn’t feel ready and then as soon as I left the start box I felt strong and up for it. I never felt like I didn’t belong here. It was all absolutely amazing and all I have ever wanted to do since I was a kid. It is a weird feeling and hard to explain but I felt truly happy and very calm — completely at one.

    Zo jumped so well over the first four fences in a great rhythm. She nailed the Beaufort Staircase combination and really couldn’t have done it any better. She was just really nippy down it and didn’t deviate at the narrow, angled brush at the end — she just made it feel like a little a Pony Club track.


    The Lake came up really fast and Zo was feeling so energetic. She jumped in boldly and a lot of people had said that they hadn’t jumped it well. It then all happened so fast and because she jumped in so bold — she slightly panic-jumped and took charge a bit as she’s so genuine, keen and bold. She was looking up at all of the crowds and was looking for the next jump. Then that was that. She was never going to make it up the step out of the water from where she took off — Zo ended up on her belly and I came off — it was such a big shock. She was just a bit too keen. I think she was really ready to give it a really good crack.

    I was gutted to have to actually walk off the course and under those ropes.

    That was that. Now it’s time to re-route somewhere else and see what another day brings.

    Continued below…

    The last thing from me is a HUGE thank you to all of those that have supported me on this journey — from sponsors to owners and fans and especially of the readers and followers that have sent messages of good luck and to ask if Zo and I are OK. But I really couldn’t have done it without Hen Gossage, who has been here grooming for me and supporting me all the way through.

    Well there we are — Zo is fine and so am I and we’ll live to ride another day.


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