... was Stockland Lovell in 2010. A long story cut short is that I previously had predominately showjumped with a fair bit of dressage thrown in but other than some small non technical Pony Club cross country courses when on ponies I had done basically no eventing. Flirt (Fleur) was a problem child belonging to my now old housemate so I got the ride. As she started to come round to the idea that work can be enjoyable and not a form of mental torture we started trying some XC and after a clinic with Lucy Wiegersma which had particular light bulb switching on qualities we thought we might just try this eventing lark properly.
So we firstly we tried some unaffiliated events which included coming second at Stockland Lovell although water was (and still is!) our weak link. I was advised against Stockland Lovell as a first event as it was considered to be one of the biggest and the most technical in the area but as we had jumped clear there in the unaffiliated event over most of the BE course I decided it was the place for us to start as otherwise we would have had to wait for well over a month until another event vaguely close due to at the time living in the deepest darkest part of north Devon.
As Stockland Lovell was only 15 minutes down the road from my work at the time (I had a very long commute!) I drove down after work on the Friday afternoon to walk the course. On arrival I bumped into a friend who had day before dressage and was just about to go walk the cross country herself and who very kindly offered (I think I was already a bit white at that point having not seen a fence) to walk the course with me and I am to this day so thankful she did.
I started going paler as we walked round as the course was as expected up to height and technical. But aforementioned friend started talking sense into me, as she rightly pointed out the fences were 90cm otherwise known as tiny compared to the 1m20+ showjumps she had seen me jump for starters! She also gave me a lot of helpful tips about how to ride and approach the fences which was very valuable advice coming from a 3* rider. I can honestly say now that had I not walked the course with her I’m not sure what I would have done and so my advice to anyone starting out is to walk the course with someone knowledgeable AND encouraging they are worth their weight in gold, and on the same strain don’t walk the course with someone negative.
So home I went slightly more enthused that before I walked the course and got to the yard to find my brilliant yard owner had washed Fleur in addition to taking her out for a quiet hack meaning I only had to plait and clean my tack which was much appreciated when it was already somewhere about 8pm.
Arriving at the event I had a small army of friends to help me which was brilliant and as you can see Fleur loved being centre of attention. I can just about remember our dressage test being nothing special but the right movements in the right places and the judge obviously liked it as we were given a 32 which left us 4th in the section. Off we went to the showjumping the one section I knew well within our capabilities and she proved me right with a clear which was one of not too many in the section.
Then lastly the XC, I was most concerned about the water jumps as well she is a wimp where water is concerned. I was completely clueless about time so just set off at a pace I felt happy with, jump after jump she kept jumping and even went in to the water albeit hesitantly. Slowly the finish grew closer and closer and then there it was, we had just completed our first BE event and not only that we were CLEAR, to say I was happy was an understatement I was so unbelievably proud that Fleur the problem child (I will actually have to stop calling her that soon as no one believes me any more unless they knew her as a youngster!) had just jumped double clear around a meaty BE 90 and on a decent dressage.
There was a momentary thought that we might actually even manage a rosette as well and a good one but I soon found out I was far too slow picking up over 14 time penalties which dropped us from 2nd to 12th, but do you know what I really didn’t care.
And that was it I was firmly bitten by the bug and we have gone from then as pretendy wannabe eventers to nearly proper eventers although I want a real proper point to our names before we can call ourselves that, you never know hopefully that will be this year!? 🙂
I must also thank a good friend for taking the photos, and as she has rightly pointed out for running up a rather decent hill to get us over the brush backed box 😉 😀