As I started to write this (now a fair while ago) I was preparing for one of my biggest new challenges in life (the universe, and everything?). Going to an actual competition, as a mum, with baby in tow. As we sadly lost our fabulous Materna-venting as she moves to Tokyo you gain me. I don’t pretend to be even half as funny, or interesting for that matter, but I do face the same challenges now.
My Sleep Terrorist as I affectionately refer to her, was determined as I mentioned in my last blog to stop me watching the eventing at the Olympics. She finally put in a appearance at 7pm on the 9th (a full 2 weeks late), the same time basically to the minute Michael Jung won his individual gold medal. Thankfully there is catch up and I spent my sleepless nights that followed catching up on the action I missed.
We are now 7 (and a bit) months later and my life is a whole new set of challenges. I was back on board riding within a month, ok the day before a month, but still within a month. I am eternally grateful for my horse’s owner who undertakes baby sitting duties as I ride. The thing is the sleep terrorist doesn’t sleep when out and about so has to be distracted, no parking her in the corner of the arena for me, unless I want to hear an ear splitting rendition of a Bjork song because she is bored within 5 mins.
My first competitive outing occurred 14 ish weeks after the Terrorist’s arrival, my boots were polished, competition breeches that fitted were acquired and I could ‘just’ do up my competition jacket with the assistance of a flattening sports bra as my ‘assets’ are somewhat larger than their previous already generous proportions.
The original plan for some decent prep had included hiring a school and popping round a course beforehand but that didn’t go to plan, I finally managed to leave the ground for the first time in over a year 2 days prior over three cobbled together fences including a practice racing hurdle. To say my expectations for the competition were low would be mild. I had no doubt that Bea would jump round happily as she loves to jump and gets rather keen but if she gets long and flat she taps them out behind and with my core muscles only just starting to reappear I wasn’t overly confident of leaving them all up. She at least was super fit and has done a full season hunting with her owner, which has done her the world of good!
Competition day arrived and I managed to get myself, husband and baby out the door only 10 minutes late which is a major win in my books. At Crofton on arrival, I installed husband and baby in cafe/viewing gallery for the day, and hoped the Sleep Terrorist would behave. Thankfully she did and I think rather enjoyed her day of attention, and through accident rather than design she apparently managed to ‘watch’ one of my rounds as well. As for those rounds style was somewhat lacking but we went double clear, not once but twice. I was thrilled, to be fair I could have had a cricket score and still come out beaming. I was back out and it felt great.
To try and get us both back properly in to the eventing mindset, I have been having regular group lessons with a local instructor. She is picking me to pieces (and putting me back again), which is exactly what I need and we are now reaping the benefits. We were on our riding club intermediate team for the winter showjumping qualifiers where we were unlucky to have a pole in the second round following a first round clear. This weekend we jumped two very technical courses for two more double clears, even if Bea had to help and dig me out a hole deeper than the grand canyon at one fence, even better we bought home two rosettes including a red one.
My core is still pretending not to know me, but my arms have become toned muscular beasts, helped endlessly by the Sleep Terrorist who insists on being top of the class in size. I could tell you how much she weighed at birth, but seeing as the number makes even men wince at the thought, I will just say now at 7 months she is the size of the average 1.5 year old, and let your imagination run riot, and no I didn’t have her via the sunroof! I am also slowly ticking off the horsey mum check list, we managed feeding in a horsebox within the first week, and attended a BE event before the season was out last year. There will undoubtedly be several more ticked off in the coming weeks as I approach my first BE event of the season as a competitor.
In other aspects of life I have been making good use of my maternity leave experimenting with new photography techniques and will be back working properly in late April. If you would love a portrait of your horse in dramatic style, keep watch, as I will be appearing with my portable studio at a BE event in the south and then hopefully more afterwards. No having to find a suitable date for a photoshoot, as I bring it to you at the event where your horse will already be clean and plaited!