And there it went – my first (and possibly last?!) chance to ride round the Badminton track. What a fantastic experience, a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs that reflected the sport of eventing as a whole. I doubt the world will be talking about Team Supercobs’ Badminton for years to come, as they undoubtedly will be talking about the 4* event (wowsers), but Team Supercobs themselves definitely will be talking about it for decades!
My Badminton didn’t quite go to plan and, although lots of people have told me how much I’ve achieved, I think I will always be slightly frustrated that Supercobs didn’t get the score he deserved. Still, I’ve completed Badminton and how many people can say that? If you remember, back at the start of the season I set three ‘experience’ goals: enjoy the opportunity, do my best, and make new friends. I’d also privately set myself a performance goal for each phase.
I’m pretty sure I made the most of the opportunity – there was a moment on the cross country when I cantered along singing “I’m at Badminton!” to myself, loving every second. We stayed all weekend and watched as much of the 4* competition as we could, inspired and in awe. Mum and I went on a celebrity coursewalk round the big track (gulp) and decided that you’d have to pay us a LOT of money to attempt that. And Mum got the chance to ride on hallowed turf too as she took Corey for a hack (massive thanks to Becks and her Mum Emma for letting us take the fab little Ted out so that Mum and I could ride together). I took stock every so often to remind myself how hard I’d worked to get there, how many of my friends will not have the same opportunity for various reasons and made sure I appreciated just taking part. In case I haven’t already said it, thank you to everyone who made Badminton Grassroots 2014 happen.
I’m 99% sure I did my best. I was over the moon with my dressage; it felt like my best ever test on Corey, who was also doing his utmost. Our ‘performance’ goals in the dressage were to feel like I couldn’t have done any better – that I’d done every little thing I’d been taught over the past weeks/months/years – and to finish in the top half. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in control of the score and 37.3 put me well down the order. I’m still perplexed by the comments I got, but was very pleased with how my test felt.
My show jumping was my best round to date in terms of how rhythmical, confident and balanced he was. Corey deserved a clear, but whilst I’d aimed for only 4 penalties, I was very pleased with only two down on a very blustery day. I’d not even dared consider that I might enjoy my round or that it would feel so good; it just goes to show what a difference practice can make.
I think only my cross country performance was not my best effort. It was both big (lots of brush for maximum height) and a very technical track. I had two (too many) moments where I had to emulate Mr Stickability, one of which was at the lake, though thankfully I didn’t get floored/dunked and I learnt a valuable lesson about how to ride skinnies (in part by having to approach 12b twice, oops). Corey ate up the big fences with supreme confidence, but he did need a bit more of a helping hand over the accuracy questions: more to learn for this 8 year old methinks (and the 29 year old on top)! Ultimately I wanted to take home my completion rosette, and I got that – mission accomplished.
Despite the final result not being quite my dream finish, I am counting my blessings daily that I can event at all (because I have both my health and sufficient funds/family support to do so), and feeling even luckier that I had the chance to ride at such a prestigious event. I urge everyone and anyone who knows one end of a horse from the other, and who has the opportunity to do so, to try and qualify and have the Badminton experience.
My last ‘experience’ goal was to make new friends. Mission definitely accomplished on that front! It has often struck me what a friendly sport eventing is (even compared to other equestrian disciplines) but especially so at Badminton. I now have many new friends thanks to this blog, twitter (@EventerBrook), and being an incorrigible chatterbox in the stables. I look forward to seeing you all at events in the future.
All in all it was an amazing week (and I have spent far too much money on videos and photos to remind me of it). I’ve gone back to work with a bump but I’m already distracting myself by looking to my next adventure with Supercobs, whatever that may be.
Thank you all for reading and good luck with your own riding ambitions!
Below you can watch the headcam of Brook’s XC round (all rights reserved British Eventing) – apologies for use of strong language if that may offend please please the mute button!