So I’m writing this sitting on a exercise ball bouncing away trying to evict my now rather overdue resident! For those of you that have been in the same position I’m sure you will appreciate my boredom, frustration and foremost discomfort. Due to pelvis issues which I have suffered the majority of my pregnancy I am left unable to do much other than bounce on my ball or go for short walks so exacerbating my boredom and discomfort even further. But enough woe is me as whether she likes it or not she will be evicted within a week (I will then replace my boredom with sleep deprivation)!
I will though freely admit I am concerned she is going to make me wait until the weekend (despite all my numerous eviction attempts!) and therefore I may miss some of the eventing at the Olympics. I had silently congratulated myself that my original due date was mid July therefore, I would even if late, have child in arms ahead of the opening ceremony and therefore spend my sleepless nights watching or catching up with not only the equestrian events but sports galore. I was though then informed my dates were wrong and therefore I was looking at late July, no problems I thought that is still ahead of the games but alas here I am days away and most definitely into August. In fact I think all my friends have now lost on the sweepstake as I’m so large people were convinced I would be early. My last photography job before maternity leave was the ever wonderful Barbury horse trials where poor Sandy, the press officer, was concerned she would be calling an ambulance for me during the event. She breathed a deep sigh of relief as I signed out on the last day!
The jokes have started though that if born during the eventing that I will need to include an eventer’s name! I was amused to find out that William Fox-Pitt’s full name is infact William Speed Lane Fox-Pitt, the 3rd most memorable name at the Rio Olympics apparently! I can say my daughter will be safe from quite such a long name, but other than a short list it has not been finalised so who knows a Kitty, Pippa or Gemma could turn up in there if I’m made to wait that long…!
With the Olympics now so close you can’t help but be excited. It is going to be many miles from the London experience but will be unique beyond belief. Yes there are challenges not limited to the climate, you just need look at the news to hear about the main concerns Zika and the facilities that are not yet finished, but hopefully these will not prove too problematic. Photos of the cross country course posted over the last week still see fences being finished but the rest of the equestrian facilities look complete (and impressive) and the course looks to be on schedule to be completed in time.
The Germans are undoubtedly the team to beat but I can’t help feel that there may well be some unexpected faces appearing on the podium in the medals. Although classified as a 4* there is no denying it is a 3.5* XC test to ensure the highest completion rate possible, and add the 2 rounds of showjumping in a more humid climate to decide the individual medals and I really do think the final results could be interesting. If I had to choose just one British rider to be on the podium it has to be Gemma Tattersall. She is on an incredible run of form this year and could realistically be competing at Rio in medal contention on any of 4 horses. All four horses she has produced herself either from scratch or from Novice level which is no mean feat in itself. The only other rider I can name off the top of my head with an equally strong string at the moment would be Michael Jung.
The Brazilians will be on home soil and although I would be surprised to see them on the podium as a team their dressage has come on leaps and bounds with the help of Anna Ross Davies and I think they could be a wild card for a decent individual placing, as they say stranger things have happened.
I think many hearts were torn this week with the news of Hannah Francis’ passing. What an incredible young woman she was, I never had the privilege of meeting her personally but did talk briefly to her following Badminton, and was incredibly inspired by her spirit. No matter what she went through she always looked to the positives and lived life to the full whilst also being incredibly polite and constantly thinking of others. She leaves behind a fantastic legacy and hopefully she understood quite how much she had touched the hearts of so many. My thoughts are with her family and friends now, who although knowing the day was one day coming, had wished it never would. They are no doubt immensely proud of Hannah and can hopefully take some solace in that she was able to achieve more in a year than most in a lifetime, and her legacy will continue to help many for years to come.
It is such a shame she didn’t get chance to see WanderBerry’s latest adventure. He left this morning to Rio in the company of fellow photographer Jon Stroud, and he will no doubt meet up with fellow Berries KingBerry, BillyBerry and GemBerry amongst others and do Hannah proud. Willberry, WanderBerry and friends will just be a small part of Hannah’s legacy. I among hundreds (thousands?) of others have changed my social media photo to one of Willberry for the next week as a sign of respect in addition to donating to the Willberry Wonder Pony charity. If you haven’t done and wish to so you can donate at www.justgiving.com/hannah-willberrrywonderpony
Returning to a more everyday level of competition I have spent the season so far watching the progress of Bea with thanks to a new friend who has taken up the reins in my enforced absence from the saddle. The dressage is still a work in progress but jumping wise she is constantly gaining confidence. She has done two BE events and we were thrilled for her to go clear round Tweseldown. Water is still her main weakness but she has already progressed miles and continues to do so. Every opportunity we have she is out schooling through water. Puddles, rivers, streams, out on Salisbury plain, you name it if there is water that can be schooled through we are using it and the work is being rewarded, although admittedly my current main contribution is sitting and watching.
This weekend also sees another eventing championships in addition to the Olympics namely the BRC nationals. My riding club had a successful area competition qualifying two teams and a further individual so will be well represented and hopefully will bring home a few rosettes. Bea’s rider will be taking her own horse who has a rather interesting day job as a Kings Troop gunner. Dressage isn’t her favourite phase so if you see a mare enjoying her test a little too much it’s because she thinks arenas are for galloping round at speed pulling a gun carriage not for poncing about slowly doing dressage. 😉 You really can’t blame her for it, plus she is a great jumper!
Good luck to all this weekend be it at the Olympics or Swalcliffe, and hopefully you may have an extra little supporter cheering (crying?!) you on by then!