Heather and Socks had a few bumps last time we caught up with them, but this month they've had a smoother ride - well, at least after the clipping was all finished...
Let’s get it out of the way first - there have been no accidents this time!
The big challenge this month was to get Socks clipped, and I’m pleased to say that we managed it in only two sittings!
I’m fairly sure Socks must have been twitched on her ear at some point in her life, so trying to get a set of clippers anywhere near her face is something only achieved with trust, love, and a LOT of polos. But we did it!
Sunday 15th October: Pairs at Poplar Park!
In other news: well, friends, I can safely say we got the jumping bug.
The week before our pairs class couldn’t go fast enough, and when the day finally dawned (for us, at 6.15am) I was buzzing and it was poor Mum who was nervous.
Rachel’s sister Sue came as well, and very much has a “been there, done that, they’ll be absolutely fine” attitude, which I think was exactly what Mum needed!
After the obligatory nervous trip to the portaloo, we walked the course.
I kept looking at fences, feeling sick, and then realising that actually, they were in the metre class, and our fences in the eighty were much more manageable!
In fact, the only fence I went a little green at was a very full-up pheasant feeder at 10. But that was why we were doing pairs!
Socks and Josh were tacked up, Rachel and I had our matching kit on and Bearberry and Ninjaberry were ready to go. It was time!
I’m glad I had Bearberry with me, and I’ll admit I sent a little plea up to Hannah Francis before I started: “Please make sure I get round all right!”
I'm not sure whether it was us having two of our best horsey friends with us, our newfound confidence, or Hannah really was smiling down on us, but we had an absolute blast.
We had one stop at the house where Josh had a bit of a look and Socks ran out of steam but apart from that, we stormed round!
While we were waiting in the start box, I’ll admit I was considering just not doing my individual round afterwards.
After we’d finished I was raring to go – I just needed to get my breath back, first.
Before I knew it, we were back in the start box again and off we went. At first, I knew Socks was feeling a bit nervous to go without Josh there with her, but I rode positively and by fence five, she’d realised that it was the same course as before and, as she’d done it before, she could do it again.
From then on we were flying, even over the ditch!
Around fence 10, I realised I was exhausted and breathing was something I was having to actively think about.
How embarrassing! “You’re over halfway round, woman,” I told myself. “Deal with it!”.
I thought we were going at a decent pace until I heard a faint call from one of the fence judges’ cars:
Okay, I thought. I didn’t think we were going that fast.
After jumping the next fence, I realised why – there was a rider on the floor, thankfully far enough away from the fence that we were able to avoid her. The judges must have left their flags at home, because no-one tried to stop me!
To be fair, not much could have stopped Socks. She was having an absolute whale of a time, taking me to the fences and powering along. All too quickly we were finished, and what was more, we were clear!
Sue said she heard me whooping from the car park. Oops.
I’m also not embarrassed to admit that I had a little cry on Socks’ shoulder after we finished. I can’t believe that three months ago I was nervous about going over a log at barely 60cm and now we’re going clear over a tough 80 track. It’s all coming together and I couldn’t be happier!
The following weekend, I'd booked to have another go at BD dressage at Milton. However, Storm Brian was on his way, with dire weather warnings of high wind speed.
Mum was away for the weekend and was visibly having palpitations at the thought of me driving the lorry in strong winds.
There will be others, I told myself, and besides, if anything had gone wrong I would've been devastated. So, I decided to have a weekend’s rest. You know, actively rest. No plans, no work, no writing, no deadlines.
I actually had to make an effort to do nothing, but it was amazing. We had two lovely hacks with Mia and Ice and I remembered what weekends were like before I started working shifts…
I may have some news on this front shortly. Watch this space!
As I write this, you can find me writing my list of things to buy at Your Horse Live, and I might even treat myself to a birthday present from me…
That’s all from me and a very shiny Socks, we’ll see you next month!