It’s 5.11am and I’m on the train to London, wondering how I managed to get muck under my fingernails. As usual I fed, changed rugs and turned out before leaving home for the station but I can usually stay clean! Must remember to scrub hands when get to office.
My Badminton plans are “going to hell in a handcart” and “coming together nicely” in just about equal measure at the moment. The executive summary is “making progress, not enough time”.
I had a perfect plan.
Couple of Days off at Easter and a trip to Nick Gauntlet for a two day clinic, Dressage lessons, XC session, jumping lessons planned. Diary carefully planned to allow maximum pony time. Wrong. Work suddenly has had an unexpected spike and my pony time is disappearing. My poor PA Carla just can’t protect my time, hard though she tries. So far I’m managing to hold on to three of the ten days holiday I had booked (two of which are 2nd and 3rd of May). There is nothing I can do about it, so there is no point in worrying. We will be as prepared as I can manage given the other pressures of life. At least I’ve managed to push the overseas travel bits back, which means I have to go to Paris the day after we compete, then Malawi on the Saturday, so miss the holiday bit of Badminton. Never mind. More worrying is finding time for fitness work (me and Dan) and lessons. We are also hampered by poor Chris having surgery on his shoulder so being stuck in a sling for a month, so he can’t drive or help with the horses. As I keep telling my team at work, “we can only do our best.”
So, how have we been getting on?
The last time I wrote we were about to trek off to Great Witchingham. An early start to miss the dreaded Dartford tunnel traffic gave us a nice three hour run to Norfolk. I had a huge gap between dressage and SJ (almost five hours) which is terrible for my nerves. A lovely sunny day and lovely (ditchy and solid) XC made it better.
A surprise the day before was that the dressage was a 20×60 test – unfortunately not the Badminton one, but a different, new one. I was pleased, as the chance to do a 20×60 on grass is rare. It would have been good, if I hadn’t had got distracted by Francis going XC just as I started my test, so was half listening to the commentary and went wrong not once, but twice. Why have I suddenly started going wrong in Dressage? I’ve always had trouble going the right way in show jumping, but this dressage problem is new. Anyway. Not a bad test, but an expensive 6 penalties for getting lost.
I had booked Dan a stable so he could chill during the day. We walked the XC, I did some conference calls (trying to hide from the loud speakers!) sat in the sun, had a snooze, cleaned tack – generally twiddled our thumbs until it was time to get ready to show jump. Francis kindly came down to help us warm up.
We have been working on me balancing the horse with my body, not with my hands; controlling his shoulders with my legs, not pulling his head round. This in theory should allow us to ride with longer reins and allow him to Just Keep Coming. This is the new mantra. As I spend most of my life in corporate speak you will forgive me for inventing my own three letter acronym, JKC!! Any who spots me looking green in the SJ warm up, JKC is the word ☺ I find it’s really hard to JKC rather than taking a pull, but we tried and it resulted in a lovely clear round. First of the season. Phew. Great clear cross country inside the time despite forgetting to start my watch meant another finish just outside the top 10 but very happy with him (shame I need a memory transplant. I blame my age)
At my lesson with Francis on Tuesday I asked him if he thought we were fit enough. “We’ll talk about it in a minute” he said. “I want a forward canter and you jump the fences as I call them out… We went round and round the set of six fences in the school, up and down and across and round, and round. And then round again. Balancing him with my body, not my hands, and allowing a much more forward canter. JKC….
It felt like forever. I was wondering if we were ever going to stop when he said “ walk” As we wandered around trying to pretend I wasn’t puffing Francis told me he’d put his watch on as we started and had cantered for 11 minutes jumping 48 fences so were doing ok for fitness.
Saturday was South of England. We had civilised times, 10.12am dressage then everything in quick succession. I love it like that. These long gaps mess with my mind!Leaving poor Chris on the sofa looking miserable and watching racing Sharon and I drive to Ardingly – one of our local events. Dan was on his toes but quite a nice test, if a bit tense. At least I went the right way for once, so that was successful! Over to the showjumping. JKC…. I deliberately didn’t walk the course so as not to over think it. Long reins, forward canter, shoulders behind hips…. Another clear round, yay!! I thought it felt really nice, although showing the photos to Francis yesterday he said I’d let him get a bit flat. Too many things to think about!!!
Nice clear XC, although I slightly misjudged the pace at the end. I got to my four minute marker at three minutes 20 sec, so ambled along for a bit killing time… killed a bit too much so had to scurry at the end and was a second over. No matter, finished 9th so slowly improving!Really busy at work this week but at least we have a long Easter weekend. Sadly work again next week instead of a nice few days on a clinic. Rats.
Next and final outing at Hambleden on Friday the 21st – the third of my three days off! Have some dressage lessons booked so will write again soon
Happy Easter everyone