• Hannah Craft

Bad things come in threes...or fours...or fives

Bad thing numero uno

I was having a really average week, and then Ascott-under-Wychwood cancelled their BE event due to heavy rainfall, and I wanted to throw myself from a bridge.

Sid and I were now on a ratio of 3 cancellations to 1 run.

That is a 75% UNsuccess rate.

Determined to still put the weekend to good use, I entered the unaffiliated event at Aston-le-Walls.

Checking the dressage test the day prior, I realised it was BE106 – a test I had not done before.

No worries, I thought, I can learn it on the 2.5 hour journey with the help of that first husband I occasionally mention in the same sentence as Ben Hobday/second husband.

First husband had chosen this week to come along to support me at an event. I should explain - it happens once a year out of a sense of obligation which sadly does not extend to being actually helpful or cheery at the event.

On arrival at the event, he turned to me in horror.

"I thought you said the event was indoors?!"

A whole event indoors? No, dumdum.

I do not remember saying that and:

(a) that would have been a lie

(b) the only lies I tell are in relation to the amount of money I spend on my horse (pennies, I swear…)

First husband then proceeded to complain for several minutes about his trainers and the likelihood of ruination of said trainers.

After a quick verbal boxing match that I obv won (I did NOT tell him it was indoors, I told him it was all on a surface) he finally got out of the car and we trundled to pick up my number and visit the facilities for my pre-stressage toilet break.

The trundling involved 200 metres of pure mud/bog/flooded field.

First husband was very soon-to-be ex-husband, according to him.

I tuned out Jack bleddy Dee and tacked up Sid, ready for stressage.

I have to say, I was really pleased with Sid's warm up. We were calm, we were collected, we were cool.

Sadly, as we headed over to the arena for our test, our Dujardin evaporated and Sid eyeballed a wheelbarrow and then the judge's box. The same box that we had warmed up next to for the last 30 minutes without issue, but in a slightly different place.

We entered and trotted down the centre-line and the test began. It was all going a little too well…

Bad thing numero duo (deux? deuo? argh)

Like I said, the test was going well.

And the next thing I know, the dressage writer heads out of the judge's box towards me mid-test. Were we THAT GOOD that she was could not help but congratulate? I prepared my "busy right now so can't stop but thanks for your admiration and praise" face.

"You've got to canter before your serpentine", she says with a sympathetic smile.

Drat and blast.

You see, in my wisdom, I had learnt half of the test properly (i.e. the first half) and then assumed that it repeated symmetrically.

Whoever wrote BE106, you have my extreme dislike for deciding to reverse the running order halfway through.

Anyway, I then flustered and rushed through the rest of the test and exited the arena as quickly as "leave the arena in free walk on a loose rein" will allow.

First husband immediately demonstrated his sensitivity.

Using all of the powers of subtlety he possesses, he loudly asked "Why did you stop your test halfway through? Why did that women get out of the box?" as I walked through the warm up towards the exit.

I must admit, the journey back to the trailer cheered me up slightly when first husband took a mis-step and submerged his trainers in the mud.

Bad thing numero trio the third

We switched Sid's tack and my attitude and came back out ready for show-jumping.

We neared the warm-up arena only to see a lady exit it at speed, after her horse decided to jump out over the wooden boards.

Well, I thought, this is exciting.

He warmed up nicely and popped over every warm-up jump with no issues. He had not touched a single pole.

This greatly worried me.

First husband had also managed to put up the jumps without getting run over, which was a minor miracle, but one that I was grateful for. At 26 years of age I feel I am too young for widowhood.

We headed over to the indoor arena and quickly realised that the place was chocka with jumps.

With Sid being rather gangly and not nimble on his feet, this was not our ideal show-jumping course by any stretch.

However, we are nothing if not willing to give it a go, so in we went.

Sid doesn't get much exposure to indoor schools and he was all eyes around the edge, not wanting to go forwards and definitely not focusing on the jumps.

We had one short side to get going before the line to the first fence and we probably needed a bit more.

Unsurprisingly, he knocked the first and the second where I hadn't got his attention and our canter quality was poor.

Happily, his jumping autopilot mode then switched on and he finished the round without any further poles.

I exited feeling relieved!

Bad thing number 4 (I know, getting lazy)

We returned for our cross country round 50 minutes later (after another trudge through the mud in those trainers…he he).

I was surprised to find that there was no cross country warm up. The show-jumping warm up was full of clear round show-jumpers (and if there's ever a warm up to avoid, it would be that one!!!).

We headed into the arena and had one canter round before the buzzer went.

Sid jumped the first house but we then had issues at fence two. He was either pulling or backwards and I wasn't helping.

We carried on and then had another issue at fence six, a corner that was much more straightforward than the one he had jumped at Munstead a few weeks ago.

The one saving grace was that I remembered the course…..well, apart from a quick circle when I missed out the water.

He then got into his stride but we had a final issue at a skinny B element.

All in all, I was glad to finish!

We exited the arena feeling a little dispirited.

Bad thing 5

And then it started to rain.

Not April showers, but torrential rain.

I have never packed up and loaded Sid so fast in my life whilst first husband sat in the car muttering about missing a Man Utd game (watching, obviously – if he was playing for them I would not be considering second husband, I would be considering second horse).

So all in all, not the most successful day….but on the positive side:

  • 39 for a dressage test that I totally ballsed up just goes to show how far we have come as that used to be an OK score for us, and Sid got 7.5 for paces (go carthorse!)

  • Apart from the first two show-jumping fences, Sid made the 100 feel easier than it has before

  • The cross country course involved skinnies and ditches and Sid didn't blink at most of it

And as first husband said on the long journey home, it was probably all his fault because he must be bad luck.

Someone's gearing up to get out of next year's ONE event I think…

H&S

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