• Hannah Craft

Sid, you're meant to jump OVER it...not ONTO it...

When I started writing event reports/blog posts, I promised myself that I would never not write about an event just because it had gone badly.

I have taken a while writing about this particular attempt (generous!) because it went so horribly wrong and, for a while, I wasn't sure when* we would be back out competing.

*when and not IF – confirmation, if it was needed, that I am mental/pig-headed/no good at admitting defeat.

The morning of Aston le Walls BE100 loomed and first husband was happy (because it was a Friday).

He was going to work and that meant, inter alia, that he was NOT going eventing. Yay for him.

Enter my wonderful brother, aka reluctant groom.

He does occasionally drive 4 hours down the M1 to traipse after me round an event or two, which is an act of unmitigated and selfless love, because:

(a) he is incredibly unfit, and one of the first events he came to watch was Brightling Park…..I mean I needed 3 inhalers, a Lucozade (other brands available) and mouth to mouth resuscitation after merely walking to get my number and that's before you factor in that the dressage takes place in a separate postcode;

(b) he is, simply put, NOT HORSEY. He has never ridden a horse, he does not know the front end from the back and his expertise with animals can be boiled down to the fact that, as a child, I had to hold his guinea pig for him in case it wriggled. Dr Doolittle he is not; and

(c) "the outdoors" to my brother is the walk from the front door to the car and vice versa.

Nevertheless, he woke up to the sweet sound of birdsong at dawn and, after grumbling several times about "that bloody horse" until I shut him up with a McDonalds breakfast, took his place in the front seat of my car and waited out a more sociable hour.

I have to say, I usually enjoy the road trip to an event. I even have an "Eventing Playlist" with my favourite motivational music/Taylor Swift (gotta love a bit of TayTay).

This time, however, it was not to be.

I was instead regaled to a variety of Eurovision songs (and let me tell you, inflicting Eurosongs on an unsuspecting person for 2 hours is treatment worthy of Guantanamo Bay) and Disney but in any language other than my own so I could not even sing along.

He also decided to "royally wave" at fellow horsebox/trailers en route.

When we arrived at Aston, I turned off my engine as quickly as possible and pushed him out of the car (loving, of course).

With "Loreen - Euphoria" ringing in my ears, I crab-danced over to get my number.

I had arrived early, which was a very good thing, given that my brother walks at the speed of an ageing tortoise, and (like first husband) also wears inappropriate footwear.....suede shoes, anyone?

When we got back to my trailer, I tacked Sid up and headed off to the warm up, hoping that my brother would arrive in time to see my test (he is the king of leisurely strolls).

My musings were interrupted by the sudden horror of realising that I had forgotten my number bib and he had my car keys.

I started to warm up, keeping an eagle eye out for a boy in inappropriate attire and eventually saw him and began waving and hollering.

Everyone in the vicinity, apart from him, noticed.

Finally I got his attention and he stormed off to find my bib, outraged at my demands.

He returned with my bib but, in the meantime, Sid had discovered a game: getting his tongue over the bit.

I cannot tell you how many times I dismounted, undid his bridle and remounted before a kind lady took pity on me and started to help.

Eventually we put his bit up a few holes.

Sid was rather annoyed that we had spoiled his fun and proceeded to spoil our test for a generous 38.

I asked to see the video, thinking it might make me feel better.

Sadly, my brother had managed to film 10 seconds of Sid and I trotting outside the dressage arena but had not managed to film any of the actual test.

My brother had the forethought to bring along a bottle of wine to try and make the day slightly more enjoyable for himself and decided now was the time to crack it open.

If I wasn't in charge of the trailermobile, I would have downed it.

I headed to the show-jumping with my brother in tow. When I arrived at the warm up, there was a real variety of fences to jump.

Unfortunately, they were set at (a) 40cm cross poles or (b) 110cm spreads.

I royally waved my brother over (see how he likes it) and asked for his assistance.

He looked at me as if I had asked him to grow 3 heads.

"I can't go in there…" he hissed, "…do you want me to DIE?!"

At that point, the answer was probably yes, but I thought of the family name (he is the only male) and held my tongue.

I resigned myself to a warm up as gradual as dropping off a cliff and circled the arena at what I would argue was a desperate attempt at collecting a gallop and Sid would argue was F-U-N.

All of a sudden we were being called over to enter the ring. I asked the photographer to try and get a decent shot as I was sure my brother wouldn’t, and at that moment the lady currently in the ring spectacularly dismounted, with her horse falling too.

On a side note, I seem to be a bad luck charm for those before me show-jumping as the same thing happened at Tweseldown last year.

Many apologies – my advice is to run if you see me warming up near you.

We then had a delay and circled slowly at one end of the ring. By the time the bell rang, Sid was not interested in my riding (and to be fair, I probably didn't try particularly hard to actively participate in our round).

Sid likes to travel at speed and I was a complete passenger.

As a result, we had deep stride after deep stride (and the occasional flyer), finishing on 24 penalties, which is double our worst ever show-jumping penalty score.

I left the arena as my brother helpfully wondered what the female version of Wreck-it Ralph would be called.

He had managed to video my round, but that was scant comfort when I listened to his commentary… "and another one down…and another one…and another one…"

I was determined to turn my day around on the cross country course, despite my brother wondering if I should retire and go home.

I drank about a litre of Lucozade and headed over to the start box.

Unfortunately, my brother turned out to be right.

Sid jumped the first two but never really settled, and chipped in at fence 3 resulting in him having to put in a huge effort to get over the table.

I then gathered him up to jump the corner, which he did, and headed towards the shark's teeth.

I still cannot say what happened, but the next thing I knew I was stood next to him, and he was stuck on the jump in between the front rail and the back rail.

My brother later told me that he had been stood on the mound waiting for me to appear and that I could have at least made it round to where he could see.

He had been messaging first husband with insightful texts such as:

"Hannah off"

"Sid on fence"

"Can't see anything"

"Not sure what's happening"

All whilst standing on the mound, with a bemused frown on his face, waiting for me to appear.

First husband was obviously rather worried (the will hasn't been sorted out yet – what if he was not the one to inherit – worse still, what if he inherited Sid?!) but managed to calm down for long enough to comment on how often I fall off.

The fence judges, vet, doctor and team at Aston were fantastic (thank you so so much!) and I am now happy to say that Sid is back in shape and ready to recommence eventing, after some cross country schooling and a successful outing at a combined training at Felbridge last Saturday.

Whilst Aston was the worst day of my eventing 'career' so far, we both walked away in one piece and learnt some valuable lessons, which we hope to put into practice at Rackham this weekend, where the worst thing to happen to us (touch wood) will be being eaten alive by horseflies!

Until next time!!!

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All