• Hannah Craft

Eventing or cooking oneself alive - YOU DECIDE

Brightling BE100

Well the day started badly, because I managed to only get about 2 hours' sleep before my alarm started shouting at me.

This may have been – in part – because of the gluttonous amount of gin and/or cheese board I consumed for dinner the night before, but I couldn't say for sure.

And anyway, gin/cheese is always worth it.


Because of my difficulties sleeping, first husband had spent the night drifting off, only to be woken 5 minutes later by my desire for an inane conversation or three.

Me: "Are you asleep?"

FH: "I was…"

Me: "I can't sleep."

FH: "Just try."

Me as I stand on his arms, legs and face whilst I crawl 'elegantly' over him to get out of bed: "Oh sorry, did I get you? Don't worry about me, you go back to sleep."

FH: "Ouch. OK."

Me: "But seeing as you're awake, what did you think about Love Island the other night? Pretty bad, huh?"

FH: "Mm."

Me: "And wow, Trump right?"

FH: "Mm."

Me: "And I was really disappointed in the new version of the Generation Game. It just wasn't as good as I remember."

You get the idea.

I also managed to wake him up with my alarm in the morning, which I left running for a few moments after reaching it for maximum effect – double points!!!

I had a relatively early dressage and then early afternoon jumping times.

The upside of this was that the jumping warm ups would be nice and quiet.

The downside…..I would be leaving my house just before McDonalds opened and therefore my morning would not be brightened by a McMuffin and/or other trans fats.

Luckily, superfriend Zara was arriving at the yard a little later than me and took a detour via the Golden Gates, turning up with what can only be described as heaven in a brown bag.

Things were looking brighter.

We were meant to pick up another friend en route to Brightling.

Our instructions: "DO NOT go down the hill with speed bumps and through the tiny bridges, it's not good for trailers, I will be on the main road route".

Sadly, with the best will in the world, Zara and I are incapable of navigating.

We merrily sailed right past her exit and through the narrow, winding lanes.

I have never gripped my steering wheel so tightly - Sid can now, truthfully, claim to have experienced simulated sky diving from inside his trailer.

We arrived at Brightling sans friend and parked up.

After a 2 mile round trip to get my number (it felt like it!) we tacked Sid up and began our trek to the dressage field.

We arrived to find – joy of joys – the neighbouring field was full of cows and their calves.

Sid was fascinated – friends that looked like him but were somehow different….

His fascination turned to terror when his new friends started moo-ing.

I sighed and carried on warming up, trying to ignore Sid's attempts at half pass and leg yielding away from friends-turned-deadly-enemies.

We went into the test arena and did what I would call a very average test.

However, Sid managed to woo the judge who commented on our sheet that he was a "charming horse" for a 33. If only she knew!!!

I love watching back videos of my tests as they usually look better than they feel.

But, on starting the video on my phone, I realised that what I was watching was 3 minutes of my friends' face in utter concentration mode, together with 15 seconds at the start where they commented on how many selfies I take (in my defence, I had looked unusually OK the night prior, hence having to photograph the moment for posterity).

We then headed off to walk the cross country course, a feat that had me reaching for my inhaler.

I hoped Sid was fitter than I was.

After plunging my head into Sid's bucket of water to cool down (I wish), I headed over to the show-jumping.

Now, our last attempt was rather disastrous: we 'achieved' our second highest ever score of 22 – almost as much as our dressage penalty score of 31 - and only beaten by that day at Aston where we went from bad to worse and ended up getting stuck on a cross country fence…

I was determined not to have the same issues and tried my best to ride a good warm up, which was slightly frustrated by Sid's initial reluctance to leave a single pole in its cups.

I would also point out that Sid probably felt like he didn't need 'warming up' given the Saharan temperature of the day at this point.

Luckily, his natural competitiveness kicked in when other, fancier, horses turned up.

We started to look a little less 'first ever riding/horse-ing lesson'.

We entered the ring and all I was thinking was DO NOT DEMOLISH EVERYTHING.

Surprisingly, we actually started off pretty well.

So well, in fact, that I very nearly sailed past jump number 7, and poor Sid had to do some sort of heroic pirouette to make it over the jump, knocking the rail in the process.

I then flustered my way through the next two jumps, taking another 2 rails down in my blind panic.

Somehow Sid and I scraped back a semblance of sanity and managed to clear the final double nicely to finish on a high.

Happily, I have an excellent video editing app on my phone that can make us look like we did a great, clear (if a little short) round.

Off to XC and the sun was really going some.

I wouldn't mind if I was the sort of person that turns a lovely olive brown, but no, I am your typical angry-pink Englishwoman after a day in Benidorm.

I was quite surprised to learn that I would be pathfinder on the BE100 XC course - LOL – this is something that I have managed to avoid thus far.

Had the organisers looked at my XC record, I feel sure that they would have chosen someone slightly less incapable…

Sid was apparently also reluctant to lead the way, as we started with the most backwards, spooky canter I've known from him XC and we had such an annoying stop at fence 2 – an innocuous looking chair that he could have fallen over (not that I'm recommending that method of jumping, of course).

I felt like I basically had to bully him round the first few fences and we had another stop just before the water (from a horse that LOVES water).

He then spooked all of the way round the first half of the course (particularly at the folly, I thought we were NEVER going to get to the top of that hill) and compounded this lovely ride by jumping me into some low-hanging branches resulting in me losing my hat silk at the furthest part of the XC course.

I debated stopping for it but the round was going so badly I just wanted to get to the end asap (and we were a long way from our trailer).

Thankfully, and just as I was considering pulling up, halfway through Sid picked up and took me around the remainder of the course with his usual enthusiasm.

As I finished, I thought cynically to myself "I bet all of the professional photographs are after I lost my hat silk".

When I reached the stand I realised that was the case – cue a load of egghead shots and no, I do not rock it like Victoria Beckham did.

We finished on a triple digit score (we seem to like those) but we live to fight another day – which is lucky, as we are at Tweseldown the following weekend!

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