"Why did I think this was a good idea?"
1st August at Offchurch Bury was one of those Ashtree Sport Horses mass days out. I went in the morning to 'help' out Tara, I say help in the loosest sense of the word, sometimes I undo the velcro on the travel boots, that's about my level of expertise and aid. I love watching other riders and other horses, particularly Tara who I have a lot of respect for, she has had moments of losing her confidence, resulting in her frozen on the back of her super cob Logan. However, the amazing thing about Tara is she always seems to come back fighting. Take 1st August where she absolutely bossed the 80cm ODE with a big smile on her face, full of confidence and both horse and rider, egging each other on. They make such a good partnership.
It was a busy day with Jess (yard owner) ping-ponging around to watch, help, advise everyone during their different phases, there were 7 of us in total from Ashtree ranging from the 90cm to the 70cm later in the day. So it was another one of those days where there was a buzz in the air mixed with a hint of stress. We all wanted to do well, not only for our horses and for ourselves, but also for Jess who puts so much energy into keeping us active and busy. Well that was enough for me, I was locked in the toilet for a good hour repeatedly thinking 'Why did I think this was a good idea?'
I'd spent the morning with Tara and Anna and they were both really calming, we had, had a bit of a laugh after I was approached by someone whilst watching other horses and they said something really inappropriate to me, this distracted me for a bit. I didn't actually feel worried all morning, we drove home, dropped Logan the super cob off and Tara kindly picked up Bodie and drove to Offchurch. It was then that it hit me. Shit just got real.
Fine motor movements aren't really my thing, I am 4ft 11, sometimes I am 5ft in the morning, but these days are few and far between. My legs barely come past the saddle flaps. When I first got Bodie I couldn't make her canter for 2 weeks because she didn't have a clue what I was asking her to do. Bodie isn't keen on dressage and so what actually happens is she fights, I end up swearing and we come out with our usual style, 'giraffe'. She is too old to argue with, so giraffe it is. In the end we actually got 35, for us, this is pretty good.
I went over to the showjumping arena to warm up, I was stopped by the vet, he said that the dressage judge was concerned that Bodie was lame (I figured it would have been all the fighting we had done, she stops concentrating on her feet and just concentrates on arguing). The vet had to watch us, I was super grateful to see Jess in the arena as it all got too much, I started crying. Jess kept saying 'it's ok, just breathe'. It's just not how I imagined the day to be, I felt really upset, I would never knowingly ride Bodie whilst she is lame and I felt that I had let her down. Jess went over to speak to the vet to explain that she was 29 years old. He watched us walk, trot, canter and pop a cross pole and told Jess 'all fine, go and have some fun'. Jess gave me the thumbs up and then helped me warm up, basically dictating how to warm up because by that point I was incompetent to do anything. I'm not sure without the support of Jess physically being in the warm up arena with me, that I would have had the confidence to go in at all. Bodie was fantastic, powerful, tugging me into every fence, I was flying by the seat of my pants, we were clear and within time. What a confidence boost!
The last phase! This was one that although I was really nervous about I knew Bodie would boss it. I just had to hold on. When I had course walked earlier in the day, I thought that the 'house' looked wide. It was probably enough to put the seed of doubt in my head. When I arrived at the XC warm up, the vet had said 'I heard on the radio you had a really good SJ round, well done!' I thought that was so nice of him! I needed to show him what we were made of, prove that age is just a number, she is perfectly capable, WE are perfectly capable. When warming up, I felt that Bodie wasn't really paying attention, anyway, my first time with a start box...what is that all about? That is proper diarrhoea inducing stress, can't they just start timing you when you start cantering! No one needs to count down to doom. They counted me down and I went into the box, just like Jess had said at 5 seconds to go, we were off, I barely moved and we were cantering to fence 1, perfect, first fence done, we could do this, 14 fences to go, in my head I was thinking Bodie has so got this and maybe I will raise my hand in the air when we go over the finish line, maybe I'll cry with joy, maybe I'll let out a whoop? What a spine tingling feeling it will be....Except we got fence two wrong, that bloody house! Bodie is incredibly honest, where a lot of horses may have stopped or dropped a shoulder, she scrambled up and over the roof and got us over the other side, but with my short, porky legs, as soon as they are out of the saddle, I have nothing. I fell and hit the ground, in front of Jess, in front of Tara and Anna, in front of Helen, Sarah and Ness, in front of my family, in front of Carolyn the XC warm up steward, in front of the other competitors in the warm up arena, in front of the fence stewards and probably most prevalent in front of the vet. I couldn't stop crying, the paramedics came over super quickly and I was just sobbing. Bodie was already marching back to the lorry, the vet tried to look her over but she was too busy trotting on the spot - typical Bodie, cracking on with life!
I was very upset on the day, I didn't know what to do, had I put Bodie in danger? Was I asking too much? Did I do something wrong? Was I not supportive enough? Was it because I was afraid of the house? Maybe I didn't line her up correctly? There are so many questions, that I still don't really know the answer to. But I am very grateful to the people who were so supportive throughout the day, with me every step of the way and those that were checking in on me over the phone like David, Jennie and my friends.
Fab event LandS, well organised, lovely atmosphere, professional and kind. When I woke up the next day (with a bit of a sore head.. I always seem to land on my head), I had a good think, if we were training, or doing a yard ODE or had hired out a school, we would smash out between 25-35 jumps in one session, no problem at varying heights, I don't doubt her ability, Eventing might not be our bag, Eventing might be one step too far. But can I really make that call on one mistake? After all, I make mistakes all the time and Bodie has to save my backside. Who knows, maybe I'll be back?