Well it’s been almost 8 weeks since Badminton and all focus has turned to next year and trying to qualify. It was the most incredible experience. Read on to find out how we got on.
We didn’t have the best build up because of the weather and didn’t manage much cantering, only trotting around the tracks at home. Schooling was limited to my weekly lessons at Appin. So we were pretty unprepared!
Sunday came around and with the lorry loaded and the girls delivered to Granny we set off on the road to Badminton! The trip was ok, long, but 10hrs later and a few detours (staffing issues!) we arrived at Badminton! Indi bounced off the lorry, she loves a party and the moment she saw the white ropes she pulled my arms off down the field to find out what the fuss was all about. The stables were great, bright and airy. But goodness it was windy! Having lived on the East coast of Scotland for most of my life I’m used to the wind…. but this was really gusty! As I wasn’t doing my dressage until Tuesday so Adrian and I tucked into the prosecco!
The next day I took her out for a hack and a bit of a canter. She was really keen and couldn’t wait to do her job. We found our way around and walked the course. And wow what a course! It was superb and so cleverly designed. Not huge but lots of questions where you could have a frustrating glance off if not quite focussed enough. The feeling as I walked into the Lake area was amazing! It’s was so exciting and I looked at it and thought ‘eh how do we do this!’. Exactly how you should feel when faced with the Badminton Lake! There was a lot going on with lots of flags and marquees, and it was a long course, much further than we’ve done before and without much galloping at home I was a bit worried about her tiring at the end. In the evening Mary my super Chiropractor came down to give Indi a check over before dressage the next day. This was hugely beneficial because she was off her hay and quite tucked up. But once Mary had been she started to eat her hay straight away.
The next day was dressage day…. she worked in well, I even managed to get her mane plaited perfectly with styling wax! Once her mane was under control Mary had a quick session with her and also me. She straightened me up and calmed my nerves. I went into my test knowing I’d done everything I could to ride a good test. The only thing lacking was match practice. We did a pretty decent job but I was very rusty and not quite as accurate as I should have been. We broke in the canter which was entirely my fault, I was having a great time and didn’t use my leg! So that was a rather big dent in our marks. However it’s not just a dressage test and we pulled ourselves together, after all we’d just ridden a dressage test at Badminton!
That afternoon we headed for a course walk with Nick Gauntlett. He was so helpful and informative. He thinks just like me… you don’t get marks for style, just get to the other side, make it happen.
Mum and Dad arrived in the evening with the girls. Rosie’s eyes were out on stalks! She was in pony heaven! A quick course walk with everyone and off to the drinks reception at the lake. This was another amazing experience. We were in the pavilion right on the lake looking across to Badminton House. We met Mary King, one of my heroes and I asked her how it feels to be an Eventing Mum and mum of an eventer. She was brilliant and pointed out she’s more worried about dealing with the disappointment of a fall or a stop than anything else!
The next day was show jumping and cross country day and also Flossie’s first birthday! Now that’s a claim to fame, she spent her first birthday at Badminton! The rain was extremely heavy and it did cross my mind whether it would go ahead, but luckily it dried up. Indi and I had another tune up with Mary. One of the most exciting things was that my Uncle who bred Indi and my Auntie and cousin came to see her compete. This was amazing and felt that the whole circle was complete. We as a family have so much invested in her and it meant so much to have the whole team there together. Breeder, owner, sponsor, rider, the girls, Mum and Dad, family, the full ‘Team eventing Mum!’. By the time we tacked up for jumping the warm up was like a ploughed field. I jumped a couple of warm up fences then just walked on a lose rein outside, not the best prep but I’m lucky that she doesn’t need much work before hand. The track was well built on a forward stride and needed a bit of attacking, especially with the ground as it was. Well my little pocket rocket pony jumped clear! It was a little untidy in places, but there were very few clear rounds and we were one of them.
Everyone then dispersed on to the cross country course to watch, of course round the Lake! Adrian and I took Indi back to the lorry to get her boots on. This was probably one of my favourite moments, just us and Indi, we took time to take it all in and enjoy it. The start was quite a distance from out lorry so we took our time getting over there. I knew I needed to preserve as much energy as possible as the ground was pretty deep and I wasn’t sure how fit she was. With a quick canter round and 3 pops we headed to the start. I knew by the 3rd practice fence that she was ready to go as the line I asked her to take was pretty extreme yet she answered beautifully. By this point the ground was heavy. The first few fences were straight forward. But then we arrived at the Lake and it was busy. There were so many people there and the atmosphere was amazing. She can be quite strong at 90 but she came back to me beautifully and popped through the elements perfectly. It was the most amazing feeling and everyone cheered! She was actually pretty much spot on at every fence on the course. Although taking a long one at the footbridge was fun! I had to hold on pretty tight, but as nick said ‘you don’t get marks for style’! This was also true for the coffin when I lost my stirrup at the first part and had to hang over parts B and C! Luckily I stayed on and pulled myself back together in time for the next fence witch was skinny on a steep slope to a big brush corner. Of course she flew it! We got a double clear! Unfortunately we got 6 time faults which dropped us from 12th to 35th but I finished with a happy horse who wasn’t exhausted.
We spent Thursday relaxing and packing up. We watched the press conference with the top three riders, then we were walking through the deserted grandstand when a little lost dog appears. He starts whimpering and barking through the bars into the main arena. A little strange, so Adrian gets the number off his collar and calls it…. No answer. The next thing we hear is a voice calling, and who appears…..Lucinda Green! The ultimate eventing legend, 6 times Badminton winner and Real Eventing Mum! I couldn’t believe it, the next thing I knew we were standing in the main arena of Badminton having a photo with her and her runaway dog! That was the cherry on the top of the most incredible experience of my life.
I couldn’t have asked for anything more. With all the ups and downs, the rubbish weather, riding in the dark, the snow, poisoned feet, balancing children, work and family, it was all so worth it. The whole experience was unforgettable.
Thank you to everyone at Badminton who made it feel so special and memorable. Huge thank you to Mary for keeping us in tip top condition and keeping my nerves under control. Steven for turning my long ones into short ones! On the Bit Country for kitting me and the girls out for the week. Anne and Krystel at Appin who have improved my dressage so much and I can’t wait to see how far we can go. My new sponsors Ardmoor who came and took some super photos before we left. But mostly to my family as without them I wouldn’t have been able to fulfil my dream of competing at the most prestigious horsey event in the world. Yes it might have been the Mitsubishi Motors Cup and not Badminton 4* but to a horsey Mum from Scotland it was the ultimate experience and I will make sure I tell my girls that if you work hard and aim big your dreams really can come true.