Graduated and Raring to Go: So close, yet so far

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I’ll admit - the month of May crept up on me slightly. I knew it was going to be busy, but somehow I didn’t notice that I’d managed to book something for every weekend. I’m certainly a lot fitter now than I was a month ago!

6th May: BRC Area 7 Summer Area Dressage, Home Farm, Alconbury

At the beginning of May, Mum and I spent two fabulous days at Badminton Horse Trials and the day after we got back, we were off to the Riding Club dressage areas where Socks and I were going to do our first Elementary test in over a year, never mind at area level.

I sure know how to book a weekend don’t I?

On the drive over to areas, I had a nagging doubt about the riding test we were doing as a warm up. I was sure I’d ridden the same test last year, but it didn’t seem the same as the one we’d practised. A quick check learned me that it wasn’t the same test as last year, because we’d learnt the test I would have been riding at the combined training qualifier instead.

Excellent.

Friends, I’ve never learnt a test so quickly. And I still went wrong!

I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling of going down the centre line, turning, and having a complete mind blank. And of course, because we hadn’t practised it, Socks hadn’t learnt it either. But even with a silly minus two we still got a 74% with a lovely mark for our harmony - hurray!

Next came the Elementary, and of course now I was incredibly nervous that I’d forget the test again. Mum was stewarding, so couldn’t go through it with me, and I’m sure we can all imagine how Socks might react to me flapping a laminated test sheet around on her back. So, I had to stay calm and trust myself.

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Turns out, I needn’t have worried. I managed to pilot Socks round without any mistakes, and she performed an incredibly sweet test without even throwing a wobbly in the reinback. We came out with 61% and individual 5th. Result!

Even after two days off while me and Mum lived it up at Badminton! Even better, the team were awarded first place as well, so a fab day all round.

The following weekend, though, was the big one. We were doing our first one day event.

Help.

13th May: Aston le Walls Unaffiliated One Day Event

Here it was. For six years I said I wanted to event, and now I was going to make a proper go of it. Actually, I was excited. We had a final tune up with Phoebe during the week before and I went in feeling confident - I was going to give it a good crack.

Our dressage went fairly well, especially as in the arena behind me a poor girl’s pony clipped the side of the arena and took off with her just as we were about to start our test.

I’ve never felt so sorry for somebody in my whole life! We came out with a 36.5 - we can do better, but I wasn’t about to get annoyed about a dressage mark when the real challenge was yet to come

We had a quick walk of the cross country and show jumping courses, and I was still confident. And still excited!

By the time we tacked up for show jumping and made our way over, Socks knew exactly where she was and exactly what she was doing. She was bouncing! She felt unstoppable in the warm up, and even better in the actual round. We did a stonking clear, within the time!

At this point I was feeling invincible. It was all coming together. Bring on the cross country!

Fences one to four went well. I could tell Socks was unsure, but I asked her to jump and she did. I can’t ask much more of her than that!

Coming up to fence five, a corner, I somehow managed to lose my stirrup. Mistake number one. I could already feel Socks getting nervous. Then, on the approach, I doubted myself. Where should I place myself to get in the middle?

Suddenly the course looked ten times different to when I’d walked it. All too soon, Socks had stopped. OK, I thought, we can still get round. A bit of more positive riding and we were over it, but I fumbled and dropped my whip.

I dropped my whip. 

The next fence was pale, bright, and it had snails on it. Without a whip to wave, we stood no chance.

So, sadly, it was the long walk home for us. I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

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After a few days, and a few debriefs with Mum, Rachel, Debbie and Phoebe, I managed to take away some positives: two years ago, just getting through the showjumping would have been dicey, and this year Socks was unstoppable.

This was possibly the fourth cross country competition we’d done in the entire time we’d had together, and my first event in three years; my second event ever. I was allowed to have some teething problems! I don’t think I’ll ever stop being hard on myself but, at the same time, I’ve come out even more determined to do it next time.

Anyway, no time to dwell - we were off to the BRC Combined Training Championships the next weekend! Find out how we got on, next time…

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