Daisy and I can’t claim to be xc virgins (as it were) like Louise and Ted, having made our BE début last year, but due firstly to the snow setting us back in Jan/Feb, and then to my extreme paranoia about her tendons since then, Sunday will be our first xc outing this year.
Yes, so far I’ve spent more in 2013 on tendon scans than on entry fees. Just great.
But now that I’ve been reassured that things are just fine in there, that in fact her fibres show quite beautiful alignment and there isn’t a lesion in sight, and the slight warmth and miniscule swelling have gone, we’re heading to Ely Eventing Centre (better known as the venue of Little Downham BE) for a hunter trial tomorrow. (Sunday 21st)
We haven’t been xc schooling yet this year, but I’ve decided a hunter trial should be better for us anyway, mainly because when I go xc schooling I think I faff about too much, and can tend to spend more time analysing than cantering/galloping around and jumping fences. So it’ll hopefully do us both more good to just get on with it, crack on and have a fun run around a course… twice in fact, since we’re doing the 85cm and then the 90cm, the biggest class they’re running.
I’m planning on going pretty steadily around the first one, in case she’s totally forgotten what it’s all about, and moving on a bit more over the slightly bigger fences if she feels good. If it goes as well as I hope, I’ll get my first BE entries in and really crack on this season. I so miss going eventing!
Unlike some Hunter Trials, where you don’t know what on earth you might encounter when you get there (spindly fences, tiny fences followed by genuinely enormous ones, gates made of balsa wood, that sort of thing… the lowlight so far was a fence which was just a long thin suspended metal radiator, eeeeeeeek), I know that the courses at Ely will be of the same build quality as BE ones. They’ll be well-thought-out, with well-designed, properly anchored fences.
This important because, erm…. let’s just say that Little Downham last autumn was the scene of our ‘little moment’, when Daisy inexplicably decided to do the splits over a pink corner fence. She’s not a casual horse. She’s not a dangler. She’s never left a knee down in her life. So why she only bothered to fold one front leg that time is a complete mystery. Maybe she was shocked by the unbearable pinkness of the fence, who knows? We got to a good spot in good balance with enough energy, I didn’t have a moment’s worry, she gave no indication of trying to stop, but then it all went dramatically wrong, as you can see! We were both absolutely fine, and I just have to pray that she never ever does it again.
She hasn’t got her feet wet in a water jump since Oasby last year, but she was getting pretty brave then and I hope that if I take her into the first one slowly and give her time to understand the question, she’ll remember that it isn’t a bottomless pit and will keep her brave pants firmly on. We’ve had enough practice with puddles this winter and spring, and she’ll now go blithely through a long narrow one as we go up the road, rather than dramatically side-stepping it and then obstinately resisting getting a toe wet.
I hope I remember how to ride xc fences. Since my natural ‘eye for a stride’ is a pretty forward one, this is usually okay after a long break. I hope I’m fit enough to do 2-point for two rounds. I might die of shame (as well as exhaustion) if I’m not! My dodgy knee (which has been rebuilt twice, thank you surgeons and BUPA/PPP) feels pretty good. Her canter’s better than it was last year. She’s stronger in herself physically, and feels up for anything. Our canter work along the riverside bridleway becomes more exciting every time. When she sees a fence in the arena she goes “YEAH!!!” which is never a bad thing, as long as I’m allowed a bit of input, since it’s me who’s walked the course already etc etc… you know the feeling!
I’ll jump a skinny or two at home before we go, since I’ve neglected those somewhat over the winter, and then I hope we can go and have some fun!
So, it’s time to clean out the stud holes, wash Daisy all over, pack the lorry (managed to persuade it to start this morning, that’s hopefully a sign that we’ll get there), find my xc jersey (still in the sewing pile from last year, oops), and try to contain my excitement at the thought of riding xc again. I woke up this morning with that familiar “is it Christmas? No, I’m going xc soon” tingle. Serious addict here. Just hope Daisy’s as pleased to see the fixed fences as I’ll be…
To be continued…