The Journey to Badminton Horse Trials
Nydia’s mother used to record the Badminton Horse Trials on to VHS for Nydia when she was a young girl – watching them over and over again until the tapes wore down, she knew that one day she wanted to ride there…
Only eight weeks after Nydia’s second daughter was born in 2017, Nydia already had itchy feet. Desperate to get back in the saddle, she and her ever-supportive husband Adrian loaded up the kids and Indi – Nydia’s 11-year old family-bred Cleveland Bay x Irish Draught mare – and headed to Alnwick Ford to compete at BE90 level.
With her new-born looking on, a post-pregnancy Nydia didn’t expect much from the dressage event and the cross-country course (usually her bread and butter) seemed far more intimidating than it ever had before. Ever tenacious, she pressed on anyway.
The first inkling of success came after the opening dressage, with Adrian breaking one of their cardinal rules by telling Nydia her score mid-event – an excellent 26.3. Going clear in the show jumping, it then came down to the cross country.
Indi did a super round and won! Nydia & Indi had earned themselves a place in the regional finals at Eden Valley and a chance the qualify for The Mitshibushi Motors Cup at Badminton.
Packing up their entourage again, Nydia et al. headed off to a cold & rainy Eden Valley. Following what she felt was an awful dressage, she was almost tempted to head home until a galvanising pep talk from Adrian. A redemptive show jump followed, putting a successful day back within their grasp. However, to do so would take yet another extraordinary turn in the cross-country.
Eleven-year-old Indi has been with Nydia for six years – bred and backed by Nydia’s uncle, she’s a gorgeous yet strong-minded pony. Lovingly described by Nydia as “a true chestnut mare”, it would take supernatural effort from Indi in order to clear the cross-country course in the time required.
“She almost pulled my arms out of their sockets”
And a supernatural effort it was. On the back of what Nydia called “the best cross-country ride of our lives”, together they earned a qualification to the Badminton Horse Trials and the fulfilment of Nydia’s childhood dream.
Training for Badminton started in earnest from Christmas. Despite the snow and the particularly awful winter weather in the Scottish Borders, Nydia & Indi trained everyday with hacking out, interval training, dressage lessons from former Scottish dressage champion Anne. All the while juggling two kids, a job and a farm.
Another important player in of Nydia & Indi’s team is Mary Young – a chiropractor who specialises in working both horse & rider. Working her magic, Mary has eased Indi’s aches & pains to keep the bounce in her stride, straightened Nydia’s riding position by evening out her hips, and ensured both are kept in top fighting form.
Training aside, the preparation for Badminton was a month’s long effort from Nydia & Adrian. Their lorry needed to emptied, cleaned, and re-prepared to ensure kid-friendliness. When we caught up with Nydia just a few days before her departure Badminton, she had been up until 23:30 the previous night putting the final touches to the lorry before being raised at 02:00 by her cranky twelve-month old.
Fitting a new saddle, new shoes and a new turtle top bit for Indi, plus some TLC for Nydia’s own eventing kit all needed to be done on a shoestring budget. Her philosophy is to spend wisely – buy the expensive kit only when it’s worth it, and save money when a cheaper version will do the job just as well.
She swears by Ariat riding boots – an expensive initial purchase, but they outperform and outlast anything else she’s tried so to her are worth the squeeze. By the same token, she uses the cheapest brushes available – they do just as well as the fancier models out there, so why spend more? A well-worn pair of Hoggs’ Field Sport wellies take the brunt of her daily yard work – she gives her wellies a hard life so she needs a pair that last as long as possible but don’t break the bank to replace once she finally wears them through.
With Badminton still looming, Nydia already has an eye on the future. Competing at BE90 level at this year’s Badminton they were tantalisingly close to a BE100 qualification, falling just 0.6 points shy. Her children also have been bitten by the bug – not even three years old, eldest daughter Rosie is desperate to spend every waking moment with Penny the Shetland pony, and at twelve-months little Flossie’s eyes light up every time she hears hoofbeats.
Stay tuned for more entries from ArdMoor’s new equestrian expert.