Everything Else Playing With The Big Boys

Playing With The Big Boys – Burghley, The Whole Experience

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.24.44It’s all over as I sit (after being back at work since Monday morning) complete with the last remains of celebratory champagne, it all seems a distant memory away! This could be a long one, so I’d grab a cup of tea (or champagne if you’d like to join me in the celebrations) and get comfy!
As we were leaving for Burghley a fellow committee member from Ilkley Riding Club turned up with an amazing ‘Burghley survival kit’ – a lovely thought!!
To say the wagon was full is an overstatement – luckily we could still fit Jake the wagon dog in!!
So we arrived at Burghley on Thursday afternoon just as the rain arrived. He was checked into his stable and the un-packing process began. We had a fab stable near the end of the block and surrounded by people who were lovely and friendly, we will hopefully bump into them in the future. My niece and nephew had made me good luck posters so they were stuck on his door along with a few other lovely good luck cards. We then received the amazing welcome bags (as I’m rider and groom I got both!) – with a candle, towels, nail brush, soap, voucher for joules tshirt, electrolytes, cat food (?), head band, leather note pad, dog food, food vouchers for riders’ canteen (which did a fab breakfast!) the list goes on. It is really lovely to get these freebies and a really nice touch from the sponsors.
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.23.05Trot up passed without any excitement and he cruised through.
Fast forwards a bit and dressage day was upon us. To say I was nervous is an understatement. We followed WFP in and this just added to our tension. We managed to hold ourselves together and get a score, that although left us near the bottom, we were pleased with. I then got interviewed and the interviewer thought I was emotional. I can assure you I was struggling to breathe – I have cried buckets over the years over Siren but after a dressage test is not the time!!
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.23.55Cross country morning was upon us and as usual I didn’t eat – Much to my mum’s, boyfriend, and brothers’ annoyance! If I had eaten it would have just come straight up. Once I set off all nerves disappeared and it was fab. He was distracted and didn’t give me the easiest of rounds – but when he jumps with the honesty and genuineness he has I really don’t mind working hard. A few people have commented he is very clever to put in his ‘skip’ but it’s not really what he should do! He hasn’t done that for a while and only does it when I don’t ‘have him’. I know he will always go straight so i’ll let him off. He finished full of it and felt like he could have gone again!! Maybe I should have gone faster? Hindsight is wonderful!! But he was clear and I was truly over the moon. We then sorted Siren out and headed straight to the bar where all my friends and family had gathered. I got a big cheer when I walked in, which although rather embarrassing, was really lovely. A few bottles of champagne later and most people had to get home, so we relocated to the riders’ bar.
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.24.05Trot up in the morning was again uneventful. I have no doubt in Siren’s soundness (if I did he wouldn’t be doing what he is!) but there is always the ‘trot up nerves’.
He warmed up for showjumping brilliantly, but when I went in the ring I again lost him and the round felt a little like damage limitation (although the video looks better than it felt). He again fell back into the ‘skip’ habit but jumped lovely. Unfortunately I thought I knew better and buried him at the bottom of fence 2 and got it down. One day i’ll learn he knows best!! But 4 faults in our first 4* showjumping round is pretty damn good!!
So we finished 40th out of 84 (I think) starters. Our aim was to come home happy and safe and we have excelled that wish. I cannot believe how amazing my horse is and he truly deserves all the attention he is now receiving.
For the next few months he is in the field – shoes off and being a ‘normal’ horse.
I have had the very odd experience of numerous press interviews and magazines wanting to do features on Siren and I – which I am finding very odd as it’s just me and my dopey, spoilt and sometimes slightly annoying horse. I hope we have however shown that you do not need a string of horses to compete at the top level, hard work and a hell of a lot of luck can get you a long way.
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.23.44So a few thank yous – firstly (and most importantly) my mum and dad. My mum trails around the county helping me all year round, and my dad (also known as the fuel fairy!) for coming when it’s too far for me to drive there and back on my own.
My neglected boyfriend – for supporting me when I’m leaving the house at 4am and not getting home until late (and for understanding Siren will always be number one )
My brothers for coming down to help and support.
Janet – his breeder, assistant groom and his second mum for helping us and looking after Siren like her own (although she still thinks he is hers!)
Sally – friend/nerve settler (even if you don’t do quick or early mornings.)
And everyone who has helped/supported me over the years. You have all made it much easier!

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.23.34I’ve had 2 nights of not having to ride after work and each night I’ve been up to see Siren and then felt a bit bored. I’m not too sure what people do all evening, I’m certainly not very good at sitting still and not doing nothing.

I think the best/funniest/cringeworthy moment of my Burghley was during the first horse inspection. Unbeknown to me Janet saw the gentleman who told me Siren would never make an event horse, and she went to have a word with him. She said ‘so Mr ********, do you recognise this horse? This is the horse that you told Charlotte would never make an event horse’. He spluttered a response as she walked away giggling…..

Finally online I have seen lots of ‘which horse would you have from Burghley?’
I responded to one with a very honest response:
“I have the only one I could ever want”.

Charlotte and the extra special 4* horse Siren xxx


Our sincere thanks to our generous supporters Toggi and to ECOGOLD for supplying clothing and saddlepads, and of course to Charlotte herself for allowing us to be part of such a fantastic experience.

About the author