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“Helper of the Day” awards…?!

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 15.56.27I’ve been eventing for decades, and in that time have had some great friends who willingly came along to events to help. We’ve had some great times, and some slightly fraught times…

I’ve already done the “beware who you walk the XC course with” post, so will skip past that potential minefield.

Mothers are a problem. Mine, who is normally lovely and supportive but reliably hands-off, made a very spirited attempt to remove the horse’s tendon boots just before we went into the SJ arena, the last time she came within 3′ of a horse. Dressage, SJ… easy mistake to make, I guess.

She is also banned from setting eyes on a XC fence until I’ve been round, after one too many incredulous “Do you really think ____ (insert name of horse) can jump that?” comments frayed my nerves to almost-snapping-point.

Helpers sometimes go awol at the most inopportune moments. The only time I ever had a horse colic at an event, my 2 helpers had disappeared into the beer tent. After the dressage test, for heaven’s sakes. It wasn’t that bad! Of course, neither had a mobile phone with them, and I didn’t dare leave the horse (who was in some discomfort) and couldn’t lead the horse to the Secretary’s to summon the vet, so I ended up leading the horse into the tradestand area, right to the entrance of the beer tent, and then managed to get someone to go and find them! Embarrassment factor of about 8.

The same terrible two managed to totally forget my request to bring ice water and sponges to the end of the Steeplechase at a Novice 2-day many years ago… we finished, I pulled up slowly and looked around for my helpers and all the kit I’d carefully arranged for this moment, to see them blithely marching off in the other direction towards the 10 minute box, totally oblivious. My poor mare didn’t get any cooling at all at that point!

There was the time that I had two to run XC with quite close times. Helper totally forgot to come back to the box to help me wash/walk one while I prepared the other, deciding to stay out on the XC with the camera instead, so I ended up trying to strip/cool/wash one and tack up the other in ten minutes flat, single handed. I’ll admit that there was a slight sense of humour failure over this later, as I didn’t think it was was fair on either horse!

Warming up for the SJ once, my helper was so star-struck by having Mark Todd standing beside him that when I asked him to raise the upright and add a ‘dropper’ (diagonal pole as a filler, a term I use all the time at home!) said helper’s brain totally stopped working and he froze, saying “Wot???” until the lovely Mr Todd altered the fence for me himself. Embarrassment factor of 9…

But the ‘pièce de resistance’ was the Advanced prize-giving at Weston Park many years ago. I’d gone fairly early and we’d had a very very very long wait. Long enough for then-boyfriend plus my usually very reliable helper (well, unless Mark Todd was standing beside him!) to both get totally smashed in the beer tent (muggins here was driving home.) Ex-boyfriend was so bored of waiting that he decided that doing the (finished for the day) Dog Agility himself, on all fours, was the best was to entertain himself and the assembled waiting riders… I seem to remember him getting a bit stuck in the tunnel. I nearly disowned him and he was lucky to get a lift home. Definitely embarrassment factor of 10 at that point, I think!

Can anyone top those for ‘helper of the day’ awards?

Photo by Katie Mortimore




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  • Hi Katie,

    Thanks for using my pony, my daughter and me in the photo! Please ask Laura to comment on my helper status and if she says anything bad…….! I am sure she would nominate me as helper of the day, month, year and decade! Gill.

    • Hi Gill

      You’re a star helper and Laura wouldn’t dare say anything otherwise I’m sure!!