• Hannah Craft

Munstead - stepping up as a first run (unplanned)!

This event report has been a while in the making, I know.

But with events cancelling left right and centre (my enter:compete ratio is at 3:1), I wanted to drag out the enjoyment for just a little while longer, hence why my Munstead BE(1) report comes a few weeks post-eventing glow.

My event prep had started in January, and by February I was feeling pretty good.

The plan was to get our first trial run of the season in at BE90 level at Tweseldown and then make the dreaded step up to BE100 at Munstead.

Well, the gods of eventing decided that was not to be.

February brought with it rain, snow and a mediocre Valentine's day (still no sign of Ben Hobday or similar).

By March, and the second lot of snow (and after pummelling the next door neighbour's snowman in frustration) I was feeling:

(a) underprepared and

(b) sick at the thought of trying to get Sid clean enough for a show in this weather.

Side note: snow really does highlight how yellow your "white" parts are when you are a skewbald.

The afternoon before Tweseldown I had washed, plaited and sweet-talked Sid.

I had walked the course on Thursday after volunteering as a dressage steward and was keen to tackle it.

Then I got the dreaded Facebook tag.

The competition was off.

Apart from the disappointment of missing a run on what had looked to be a lovely course, I was now left with our first run of the season also being the run at which we step up a level.

Being too stubborn/proud to withdraw, I then proceeded to have a terrible week of lessons and an even more terrible outing to a combined training, where my dressage test was pretty inaccurate and Sid, for some unknown reason, stopped at the warm up jumps (and he never stops show-jumping) and had a completely disunited and messy round of show-jumping.

Any sane person would have withdrawn from Munstead BE100.

But eventers are not sane and, much like my ill-advised attitude to jumping combinations where the first jump in goes wrong but I stick to my original striding and demolish the next jump, I decided to carry on with Plan A.

I arrived at the yard and hitched up my trailer. So far so good.

Sid loaded without too much fuss and off we drove to Munstead, following Adele's trailer to avoid the dreaded back entrance to Munstead (and yes, I have taken my trailer down that way and no, it was not comfortable for Sid or my car).

We arrived and the rain had ceased momentarily – hallelujah!

I was so worried about getting stuck on the grass lorry parking area and, as luck would have it, drove in behind the slowest lorry ever to grace this earth.

I did NOT want to have to stop because I knew we might not start again and I have no idea where my tow eye ball hitch thing is on my car (sigh).

I was smacking my steering wheel, cursing, going as slow as physically possible without coming to a halt…and by some miracle we got to our parking spot without incident.

I collected my number and walked the course and, before I knew it, I was mounted up and on the way to the dressage.

Now, Sid's flatwork has come on massively over winter but we were now up against some very flashy horses with riders on board that can actually ride (hate those people).

Warming up, I could feel how keen Sid was to be back out eventing. A touch from me and he sprung into canter (when I had asked for trot) and leg yielding had more forward impulsion than lateral movement….but he tried his best to listen and soon we headed in.

We had about 4/5 circuits of the test arena before the bell rang, which gave Sid a chance to settle and me a chance to find my inner zen.

The actual test felt so much better than anything we'd done last year, and I was thinking to myself "hey this isn’t so bad" when I suddenly realised that, in my daydream, I had come back to walk in the wrong place. Drat and blast!

I quickly and smoothly transitioned to trot and tried to pretend as if it nothing had happened. Then we were trotting down the centre line and halting and I was giving my horrendous "swish swoo" salute.

We then headed over to get ready for the dreaded show-jumping!

As we arrived at the warm-up I was pretty nervous about jumping anything in there. Munstead had done tremendously well to run at all but we were late on Sunday and the warm-up was a sea of churned up mud.

I probably rode over-cautiously but I decided to only jump a few jumps so as not to risk him slipping and losing confidence.

Before I knew it, we were into the ring and being announced!

I picked up canter but the ground was holding and I was a little bit tentative. As a result we hadn't really got going into the first jump and he rolled a pole.

The second one he jumped nicely but three and four (a combination after a dog leg) we just didn't judge right and he scraped over the first, taking a rail with him. I dug deep for a pony club kick and he got out nicely over the second and we gathered ourselves.

Things started looking up: he went nicely over the next oxer and then got a little deep after the turn to the fifth but was careful enough to survive and made the distance to the next upright.

Sid then got a little strong over the following two oxers, giving them plenty of room and nearly dislodging me from the saddle with his efforts and was just not quite careful enough over the final upright.

All in all, 3 poles on very deep, muddy conditions – I was over the moon.

Feeling buoyed up by our relative success so far and my dressage score of 35.8, which was very respectable, I headed to the cross country.

Sid was K E E N in the warm-up and we had a good time lengthening and shortening the canter and popping over the jumps.

We got called over to the start box and Sid was jogging all over the place. I was pumped.

We were counted down and we left the start box without fanfare. Sid wasn't particularly sticky or spooky and I was able to enjoy riding the palisade and the house at fence one and two rather than fighting him and feeling like I was riding my socks off to keep him going in a straight line.

We headed to three and four – a nice box jump and logpile – and then it was decision time.

Ahead of us was the Munstead corner. Now, Sid has never had a particular problem with corners (just a problem with cross country in general) but he is ever one to duck out of the side door if he can.

This particular corner was upright and narrow and a great candidate for said running out. It was also a black flag fence – i.e. there was an easier option available.

I debated for a moment whilst galloping along and then realised it was getting close and I was heading towards it.

FCK it, I thought, let's give it a bash.

I decided on my line and took it (avoiding an overhanging branch) and sat back, ready for the run out.

A few strides later and we were over the corner……?! I could not believe it! Sid was so pleased he proceeded to disunite every other stride as per.

Unfortunately, this moment of elation did not last long as the next jump was the trakhener.

Sid has jumped this once before in the BE90 last year, but for some unknown reason I decided not to push my luck and took the alternative, thereby completing destroying Sid's rhythm.

He then returned to his usual sticky "first fence" canter and we went sideways on a terrible line (line is generous) and then had a run out at the next fence, a green tractor, the type of jump he usually wouldn't bat an eyelid at.

Cursing myself, we represented and carried on. I then had to ride at the water combination but, once we had completed that and popped through the owl hole we were back on track.

I then enjoyed cruising the rest of the course, the second water combination, the skinny, step down to "holey-boxy jump". Sid even popped through the coffin combination after taking a split-second to consider the left-hand exit instead of the ditch.

He then stormed over the bullet, table, upright skinnies on an angle and the final rolltop.

We picked up plenty of time penalties with our detour and subsequent disagreement but I am so proud of Sid for getting round and for jumping that corner and – lesson learnt for next time – don't make a last-minute decision to re-route when you haven't walked it and also don't ride that re-route as if you haven't walked it!

Onwards and upwards to the next event (if this rain ever ends!!!!)

61 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All