• Hannah Craft

WE DID IT (warning: contains overuse of !!!)

Tumbleweed since Goring, I know...

The reason for this was that a) motivation was low after our disappointment there and b) Sid tried to open a gate with his head, leading to injury and a hefty vet bill. We had to cancel our entry into Little Downham and, with that, our hopes of completing a BE100 this season.

Plan B was that we would enter Tweseldown (4) BE90 and finish our season on a high.

However, Sid's injury wasn't looking good. It had become a little infected.

The week before Tweseldown I was hoping, wishing, praying, hoping, bargaining with the man upstairs, wishing some more....you get the picture...that Sid would be OK to compete.

I did not want Goring to be our lasting memory for 2017.

A few days before Saturday and it was looking a lot better. We had the green light.

Frustratingly, work had become extremely busy. I was getting up, going to work, getting home, going to bed.

Thank goodness for such a fantastic support team - Adele, Paul, Alex, Zara, Yvette - they were able to keep Sid going and ready for Saturday. So so so grateful!!! In fact, he was probably better for not having to put up with me for a week!

Due to my work schedule I was down on sleep hours....resulting in me missing my 4am alarm and oversleeping!

I woke up, screamed and proceeded to set the house in disorder by rushing from room to room. Luckily my husband is part-zombie.

I managed to get to the yard in record time (I didn't break any speed limits...I don't think) and got everything loaded up, including the necessary horse.

We departed the yard and I managed to relax enough to have a singalong to my new 'journey to event' CD - "Power Ballads". It's a classic.

We arrived and started warming up and I decided I would try and enjoy the day.

I had been getting so stressed about my MERs for BE100 that I had forgotten that it's meant to be fun - isn't that why we do it?! It's a bloody expensive day out otherwise (unless you're a professional with some chance of placing - which I am far from!)

I worked Sid in and was happy with how he was going. We headed to the arena and I plastered on a smile.

The first half of the test was tense (it always is) but I managed to breathe at some point halfway through and start to concentrate.

Surprise, surprise, as I relaxed, so did Sid...

I exited the arena feeling really rather pleased (and rightly so, as we ended up getting a 32.5! And an 8 for paces and some of the walk/halt work).

Unfortunately, the show-jumping was a temporary loss of zen. I managed to warm up with people who were very unaware of their surroundings.

A few times I had to circle where someone decided to change the jump as I was heading towards it.

I let myself get wound up and had a frustrating show-jumping round, where Sid and I just couldn't settle.

As a result, we had 3 poles down.

Still, to put things into perspective, I was on a score of 44.5 and I have had higher scores after only the dressage phase before, so...

We headed back to the trailer and Sid was left with his musings and his hay whilst we walked the course.

I decided to take a chocolate bar and munch it as we went round. I could do with some energy before the cross country.

Sadly, it turned out to be a waste of a chocolate bar (and I hate wasting food) because the course made my stomach turn so much that I couldn't eat it.

I genuinely thought I was going to vom.

Tweseldown is known for being a good challenge cross country, but I always felt it was more 'bold but inviting' than technical.

Well, you can imagine my surprise to find two angled hobbit houses after a big, wide log-pile and a downhill stretch.

(You may remember from my last report that downhill = falling off....)

You can also imagine my horror to be faced with a hanging log, two strides to a wide zigzag ditch and then a right angled turn and three strides to a log with brush on top!

We won't speak about the brush fence after the water that reached up to my 32C's, nor the hanging log with a stride to a step down and then six strides (downhill!) to a triple brush.

By the time we had finished walking the course, I needed the toilet.

Sadly, after the toilet, I had to hop up and Sid and I were heading to the warm up.

He trotted in and I swear he knows the deal now - he was doing a beautiful extended trot around the warm up and checking out all of the potential jumps in sight (including the boundary hedges).

I cantered him and checked his adjustability within the pace (could I speed up - definitely yes - could I slow down - erm probably yes with some 'gentle' persuasion).

I popped the warm up fences and the starter called me over.

I tried to "breathe in confidence, breathe out nerves".

I tried to breathe, in general.

Our 5 second countdown had started and the entry to the white gates was on the wrong side - bugger!

I quickly manoeuvred over and popped through and off we went.

Sid tried his spooking towards the first fence and the result was a very wobbly line forwards - but I was determined. There were plenty of opportunities for a run out later on. I was NOT having one here.

I grimly jumped the first two, and gave Sid a little tap. His wobbly lines had to stop - the first accuracy test was coming up.

We turned the corner and so did Sid - and thank goodness - because we had a big, wide log-pile and downhill to the two hobbit houses on an angle. I picked my line and I clamped my leg on. I sat right back and drove and Sid responded - and they were behind us!

Over the table and our next test was ahead - the coffin combination.

I steadied Sid right down to a show-jumping canter as I wanted him to have plenty of chance to see the question.

He hopped over the first and saw the ditch.

I threw my shoulders back, looked up and kicked. He hesitated for a split second and then jumped over. I quickly gathered up my washing line reins and turned my body for the C element and he responded.

I was stunned - and then I was determined. If we had made it over that, we were making it over everything.

He jumped the wagon, the house, through the water and out over the log and we turned for the giant brush.

A few strides out and I was calculating how high it must be (how much extra brush can be added onto a solid jump - I must re-read the rulebook)...

Sid had a look, I pumped the gas pedal, and we were over (although he did get a tiny bit deep).

Picture above - and can I just sympathise with all owners of big, solid horses, who make every jump look so unimpressive even when it's pretty big!

The next few were our favourite - wide, bold and straightforward box-type jumps.

They were very quickly behind us and we turned to the last big challenge - a hanging log, a step down and the triple brush.

I slowed Sid to a trot as I did not want to get thrown over his shoulders when he realised he had to jump down.

I think, though, that I needn't have worried! He jumped the first, took a long stride and threw himself down the step without a moment's thought!

I sat back and re-balanced him for the triple brush. I had my hands wide, ready for him to try and duck out.

He was single-minded though - and locked on - and flew it flawlessly. Then over the dragon to finish.

I could NOT believe it.

We had gone clear!!!

I think everyone in the county heard my "GOOD BOY SID" - I was just so pleased with him.

Despite slowing down at several of the jumps, we only had 5.2 time penalties to add!

I had that familiar rush again that comes after a great cross country round, and now that I had taken all of the pressure off, I had my MER!

Our season is now over, and Sid will have a well-deserved break before we begin training in earnest again, but what a season. From nothing to confidently completing 90s in six months and looking forward to a season of BE100s next year!!!

Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has helped us out.

We will carry on working hard.

Most of all though, a HUGE thanks to my incredible horse, who makes me look much better than I am and brings me so much joy (despite being a clumsy PITA).

H&S

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