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Badminton countdown begins – Badders blogger part 3!

Practising my dressage test on Joe at home.

Practising my dressage test on Joe at home.

Gosh, less than two weeks to go now and at last the weather has changed and spring is in the air. Our build up to the Grassroots is dare I say it ON TRACK … and we are getting very excited about it all 🙂

So Joe went off to South of England at the beginning of April to do his first BE100 of the season and only his second event at this level since his hock operation two years ago so I was slightly apprehensive about how he would feel. Claire was there too with Jenga. The promised increase in temperature didn’t happen but it stayed dry for us and the ground was a bit deep in places but largely good. Our dressage arena didn’t have the muddy track that some did and we scored a 26.5 which was a great start… Jenga scored 24 in her section – wow!

I like the show jumping stewarding system they use at SOE – big blackboard, all numbers written down, and crossed off as they go, running mainly in number order and you can see easily where you are. I wish all events would do that. I think it is one of the hardest jobs to do and that system makes it so much less stressful for everyone.

The show jumping warm up was on the new surface next to the grass arena, but it was very tight in there and there were a few near collisions … (later on they moved it to the old warm up area which was much better.) Anyway, as I was on my own (as usual), I had to jump what fences were there – they were a bit bigger than I would have chosen (again) – Joe is a big horse (17.1) with a huge stride, so the lack of room made me have to really get him in front of my leg and listening. I needn’t have worried, he was pinging and in the ring he just had one upright down which was most probably my fault. Co-incidentally, Claire had the same fence down. By the time we got to the XC there was a bit of a backlog so we walked round and round for quite a while but when we got going Joe was fab. I really didn’t want time faults and it is a faster speed for the BE100 so moved on and had a lovely ride coming in clear in the time! Yay! So we were 3rd in our section. Claire and Jenga won theirs so we had a great day.

I forgot to enter for Ascott Under Wychwood and missed the ballot date but to be honest it was a “nice to do” and not essential for either of my boys, in my plan. I was slightly peeved though and don’t like to miss a party but as it turned out the weather wasn’t playing ball and they had to cancel anyway. So on the Saturday I took Joe BS show jumping at Norton Heath where he jumped a very pleasing double clear but with time faults because I went the scenic route in the jump off FGS!!!!. 🙂 what a twat. We had a funny conversation among the eventing contingent about whether to dress like a show jumper when at BS shows or an eventer. I can never decide but plumped for the tweedy crash hat look instead of the short blingy jacket shiny hat and white breeches with diamante effect. I was quite pleased about that given the time faults, I felt like I had an excuse :).

On the Sunday, I delivered my lovely 6 yr old Irish boy, Finn, to his new home in Sussex where he is off to enjoy hacking on the South Downs and dressage training with his new owner, Leena. We had some success eventing last year at very low levels, but the jumping wasn’t his thing and now the most he will have to do is pop a log out hacking and can do what he is very good at which is being a fabulous hack and a smart little dressage horse. His new home is beautiful and I have had lovely texts almost daily since and I wish them both the very best of luck. Aw!

Joe at Hambleden. Photo with kind permission from Ultimate Images.

Joe at Hambleden. Photo with kind permission from Ultimate Images.

With the ground drying out a bit, I decided to put a long arena out on my field so I can practice the dreaded championship tests. They are dreaded because there are two of them to learn which is quite a big ask for me. On Thursday two envelopes arrived addressed to Moloko and JJ Malone with the Badminton Horse Trials logo in the corner and containing all our tickets, passes and information and my stomach did a flippity dip with excitement! This may only be the Grassroots Championship, and not the 4* at Badminton, but as I see it, ours is smaller and isn’t so scary so the excitement isn’t quite so tinged with fear! With Claire’s and my collective four horses, we have nine people planning to come with us so the logistics of who is staying where and what vehicles are going is quite complicated. I am largely leaving it to them and concentrating on my dressage tests. Best way I think!

So one week to go now (yes this has taken me a week to write) and both boys have completed their final runs … Joe had a fabulous day a the lovely Hambleden, in spite of the lack of bluebells , the sun shone, the ground was PERFECT and he was 2nd in the BE100 with a 29.5 double clear and won some Trizone XC boots, 🙂 Mo was fabulous at Milton Keynes also in the BE100 with a 28 dressage, the LAST jump down in the show jumping (note to self, wait for the extra stride and he’ll make more effort to clear it) and really great XC. He was 8th. I love Milton Keynes. – I don’t think I’ve missed many of them, Fiona Gifkins and her team do such a fab job and it is great to see all our friends there. Clever clever Claire won BOTH her BE100 sections on April and Jenga so they are well on form for next weeks trip to Badminton. Well … that’s it …. now the countdown begins and I guess I better clear out the lorry!

Good luck to everyone competing at the weekend.


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