Getting Started Musings Of A Wannabe Eventer Things I Wish I'd Known About Eventing Before I Started

I’m Too Tired To Think Of A Title…Eventing Prep is Exhausting!


So the dreams have started…last night I dreamed that I got 1s in my dressage, judged by some wonderful woman ‘S Rolphe’ (I hope she doesn’t actually exist, that would be awkward…). I got a 5 for my riding and went into a total rant about dressage being SO subjective and why the hell did I get 1s when I did actually perform the movements.

Fact is, this really COULD happen and I may well be ecstatic to get a 5 for my riding after going on today’s hack. I rode in a snaffle *yay, go me* and went out of the yard, with the ever faithful Jackie and Jack, with the mindset that I would ride my horse through and up into the bridle during the whole ride. Hmmmmm, it appears that after a winter of mooching around we really cannot even give a decent impression of *doing dressage*, which is shameful for the editor of magazine! I may have long legs, but Charlotte Dujardin need never worry about her crown being pilfered by me! Years of riding horses that were too small for me means I have a cracking habit of drawing my legs upwards, weakening my seat and rendering myself totally useless – such fun!

So back to the dream, after dressage I went to do my show jumping, the one phase we have actually done before! Carnage, total and utter carnage, in fact I am not sure any poles remained standing! Still, I was happy enough…until I couldn’t get my horse anywhere near the start of the XC, so Jackie and Jack gave us a lead! As we came around towards Jackie’s bogey fence, the table that is dressed with carrots, she started swearing, loudly and repeatedly! We suddenly realised that there were only 3 carrots artfully arranged in the corner so I screamed at her “Jump it on an angle”, which she did, I did, and we came home smiling! Sadly this is against the rules, but it was a cool dream!

As expected, there are already people queuing up to knock us down before we have started, but I tend to embrace ridicule 🙂 So what if my horse decides that he doesn’t want to play ball, it’s my money to waste and, as I said last time, I am only doing this to give myself a reason to drink vodka on a Sunday night, and I don’t care if it is celebratory or in commiseration for a shocking performance.


image_1366490351653136Oh my lordy days, how DO you eventers do it! I left my house at 8.15am this morning and got home at 7pm! It isn’t even competition day, just preparation…but what a lot of preparation there was! Granted, I had to have two breaks to take/pick up children from school drama, but still, I haven’t stopped, I absolutely stink of saddle soap and, quite frankly my tack still looks like tack that needs a clean. It is official, I am a total slut when it comes to tack cleaning. I do not deserve nice things, and I do have nice things, but my care of them has slipped somewhat. When I first got my made to measure saddle I lovingly cleaned it after every use, I stroked it, oooh and aaaah over it, in fact I probably adored it more than my children at times. Alas, the novelty wore off like a 7 year old’s does with a gerbil and the cleaning became less frequent, the special time we spent together grew shorter, and it became something to simply park my backside on. The special balm that it used to be lovingly slathered with sat unused in the dusty pot and I learned to like the weathering. So when I got my two bridles and two saddles out it was shaming to actually note just how dirty they were. It has been muddy of late and it appears that I have been collecting all kinds of mud, all very sticky! Hours (note the plural) later and I had something resembling supple tack, and a Brucie’s bonus of a sodden iPhone, which I had managed to cover liberally in orange squash whilst shuffle was playing Erasure “Give A Little Respect”…I am not sure I blame my martingale for swinging into action and knocking the squash over to silence the rather dodgy 80s electropop that was polluting the air, but this event nearly turned into an event pushing over £500 in costs….with no chance of refund because of abandonment! Luckily the sun was blazing and it dried itself out and resumed its function, but with Jake Bugg playing instead of Erasure, whoop!

image_1366490378333575Seeing that Ted’s mane needs plaiting tomorrow it was clear that something needed to be done about it, otherwise we would have 25 plaits resembling golf balls, which is neither chic nor wise when people are lining up to rip you to shreds for any reason – bless them and their empty lives! So after an hour Ted’s mane was suitably thinned and sort of shortened…he is/was a show jumper, so I tend to pull and razor the bottom…it is a sin to some people but something that has worked for me for years, until today, when I need to do plaits, which I have never done to Ted before – another first!

Bathing a grey is always fun, and the first bath of the season always tends to put on display how much or little one has done over the winter. The water coming off Ted’s backside was rather like the water that comes off my boys after they have played rugby, in November, after a month of rain. So he was scrubbed and scrubbed again until he smelt beautiful and his dapples shone.

A friend and I needed lunch, it was after 2pm and we hadn’t eaten all day, so we popped along to the ODE ground to get a dirty burger and have a look at what was going on. As I opened a gate a voice called for me to keep it open, I turned around and a young girl on a pony was beaming at me and I let them through, and as she rode past me I looked straight over her hat, she was, even mounted, shorter than I am…and competing in the 2ft6!

I know that the fact that I am competing in a 2ft3 is being questioned and even laughed at, but do you know what, sod it, see I am going out for a SAFE outing, on a horse that has never, to my knowledge, ever done a dressage test, 100% that he has never jumped XC fences until last week and never jumped a proper ditch in his life. So, THAT is why I am doing the 2ft3, putting myself at a disadvantage in the only discipline we have actually done before as they are so small we may well trip over them, I know this from experience!

image_1366490362904717And as for the dressage….well, this afternoon I decided to take off the martingale, slap on the dressage saddle and, because of my laziness in tack changing, put a flash strap on my cavesson so I wouldn’t have to use my grackle on two bridles. I hate flash nosebands, that is for a different blog, but seeing that I was going martingale-less I figured a closed mouth might actually be wise. I also forewent the arena for the field so we could school on grass. Well, let’s just say the first 15 mins were utterly disastrous…Ted turned into a stagiraffe, yes, I have invented a new animal and Ted is channelling it. As soon as he realised he did not have a martingale on his head went in the air and he tried to open his mouth, found the strap, had a strop and bounced. Strange, as I can honestly say I have never really thought that the martingale came into play on him that much…how wrong I was! So, yes, bounced, and bounced, and bounced and stuck his nose in the air and ran through the bridle, and bounced, and went sideways and I bounced around in the saddle, hands everywhere, did a great impression of looking like I had never sat on a horse before, cursed the fact I was in a dressage saddle and in slippery jeans, whilst my friend’s horse passaged past the field on the way in to the stables and another did a great impersonation of Red Rum….

I stopped, I breathed, I roughed Ted up a bit, I decided that tomorrow I am not riding in my dressage saddle and I started again. We ran through the test three times, with not even a smidgeon of an outline on show, I lost my stirrups a few times, I relied on voice commands too much, but by the third time he knew where he was going – result! I am just hoping that he remembers the routine tomorrow…what are my chances?! And he won’t be in a flash, I would rather his mouth is open in the cavesson than have him resentful in front of me. At least in my jumping saddle, rather than my flat seated, no knee roll dressage saddle, I know I have more chance of staying in the plate! I will be happy with a 50…

So, tack is done, horse is ready, I have bought gloves for the dressage, boots for the XC, a new whip as I don’t think my schooling whip will be overlooked in the SJ arena and on the XC course…shame…, I have borrowed a polo shirt from my friend as I cannot find my old Springboks rugby shirt, I don’t have a bib (I will be careful with my dribble/blood/vodka) but am sure I can borrow one off someone, and I will write my medical details in indelible ink on my arm….£5.50 for a see through bit of plastic to strap on my arm….Christ, at least 20 people on site will know me, and for the record, in case they are busy pretending not to be my friends as I face plant into the water, I am not allergic to anything but wasp stings and my blood is AB but I can never remember if it is + or -, there, sorted!

So, there we have it, prep done, think of me around 1.30pm when I will be sweating waiting to go into the dressage! The doubters are queuing up and my wonderful cheerleading friends are ready to join me in sticking two fingers up at them as I smile my way through the finish line and get that vodka opened! Oh I forgot, one last bit of prep to be completed…as soon as the boys go to bed I am watching International Velvet, on the old VHS player, which I dug out of the attic and received rather severe dust inhalation for my effort…I really am VERY dedicated to this cause :)….THREE, TWO, ONE…GOOD LUCK!

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  • Good luck! As it happens I normally find we do our best when Ive had either a) a horrific dream the night before or b) a shocking schooling session the day before (in fact now I dont bother schooling the day before and just go for a nice chilled out hack instead – less stress!)

    Two pieces of advice my mum gives every time without fail when we are eventing are: In the dressage: ‘Imagine your boobs are a set of car headlights, dont dip, dazzle!’ And before the xc just before the start box: ‘dont forget that you have a pair of legs, remember to bloody use them!’

    Sounds corny – but it does put a smile on face and helps to relax me as well as giving me a good reminder as to what I should be doing!

    Have fun – its what we do it for! x