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  • Writer's pictureHannah Craft

Back Home for Chilham!

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

This weekend saw Sid and I back on the open road, heading "home" to our old yard for the weekend.

Another 250-mile round trip (my car's mile-ometer has never worked so hard), but OF COURSE we could not miss Chilham.

Sid was very happy to be home, so I deposited him with his old pals (amongst much neighing and farting) and headed to Chilham with ex-yardie but current-bestie Adele and her young horse, who were competing the day before us.

We walked the XC course and I started looking at my fences for the following day whilst occasionally waving over at her and pointing out how scary all the fences were via the medium of "mime".

Shortly thereafter, I wondered whether becoming a permanent event groom rather than competitor was the way forward.

I don't know if courses are upping their games or if I am just becoming more of a wimp each time I leave the house. Maybe both?!

After educating Adele musically by playing her the latest sounds (i.e. "Boy with Luv") repeatedly until she could rap in Korean, and supporting and cheering and hollering for her and Marley, we headed back to El Rancho to get Sid ready for the next day and the BE100/actuallydidienterbadmintonbymistake.

I awoke really needing a nervous toilet and crept downstairs, where I failed several times to find the light switch and door hook and almost fell over one of her dogs (sorry Albie!)

Dressed and half decent, I navigated the dark streets of Woolwich and arrived at the yard to steal Sid away at the ungodly hour of 6am.

Once at the event, we collected lucky number 451 and prepared for stressage.

We warmed up, but I was quite cold.

After overanalysing my last test sheet, I was determined not to get another "needs more impulsion" comment, and so I warmed up with schooling whip and spurs and a "no-nonsense" attitude to moving forwards.

Ironically, Sid turned out to be having a razzy day and was in fact the complete opposite. Lol.

When I get my test sheet by snail mail I would not be surprised to see a comment requesting "less impulsion".

I'm sure that most riders would have turned that energy into something amazing but frankly I struggle to even remember the test and stay on, so...

We headed to show-jumping and I was the second to go into the ring, which gave me no time at all to learn the course by watching others and/or calm my nerves by being able to see riders get round without falling off/the world imploding etc.

The guy before me looked annoyingly professional and just floated round, which I always hate because I then look so absolutely horrendous straight after that. I'm not wishing a bad round on anyone, but if I could just do my 100 round in the midst of the 80 class, that would be great.

We entered the ring and I felt like I had far too many eyes watching my terrible riding. We turned to the first and I gritted my teeth. We were GO.

The round itself was generally fine, but, stop the press, we had brakes and they WORKED!! This was amazing but of course my brain doesn't work quickly enough for this to penetrate during a jumping round and so I overchecked to a couple of uprights downhill (where I was probably causing the loss of balance and rushing, not Sid) and we then got deep and rolled 2 poles.

8 faults but a very encouraging round if I could only figure out the buttons!

We also had a slight satnav error where Sid decided that the straight related distance was probably too obvious and that we should dogleg back over to jump number 3 instead, but I realised in time that we had already jumped it.

To be fair, Sid was amenable to being hauled into the outside lane and over to the correct jump, away from what would have been our first (surprising, I know) technical elimination.

We headed to the XC start and I tried to whip myself up into a state of mind where my legs worked and I wasn't visualising several different ways to fall off.

We were called over to start and I was ready for battle.

I told the starter I was nervous - and his reply, which I think I will always remember, and possibly try to copyright and get put on t-shirts and bracelets as a slogan (who needs Second Husband if I can create a successful business?!) was:

"You are nervous because you're about to do something really special."


Maybe he should take credit for what happened next...

We headed out and Sid was KdoubleE-N.

Over the first box fence, and up to the next. Over that and we bee-lined for the arc at three and headed to the first question.

As I cantered over to the barrels, I had a quick decision to make...they were numbered 4 and 5 and set on a sharp angle. I could either go diagonally over them in a straight line or circle after the first. Was I feeling brave?!

I decided to take the risk - Sid was feeling a bit #moneysupermarket - but as I started to pick my line I noticed the whole group of U18 riders on their guided course walk stood at the jump!!

Damnit, I thought, we better not mess this up with such a large audience!!!

I needn't have worried, as Sid stayed straight as an arrow and popped the three strides perfectly. What a good boy!

I then (within sight of the U18 group) gave him a bit of a poop stride to the flowerbed so that evened things out.

We headed down the hill and turned for the water jump. I wasn't a massive fan of the new trailer - I hadn't decided whether it was spooky or not - but a few taps on the shoulder to keep Sid's head in the game and we were over it and in the water (Sid, not me!)

I slowed him down and turned to the hippo, giving him plenty of time to work it out, and he sailed right over it, and the next house and pheasant feeder.

We steamed up the hill and Sid felt amazing, managing a nice jump over the box brush despite gradient (good thing he is fitter than me!!!) and we headed to the top of the hill.

Feeling pretty high so far (literally), I turned to the lorry, which I gave him an awkward stride to, but he is so cool that he made up for my mistake there and jumped it anyway (love him).

I did a better job at the picnic bench (not joking, I could happily sit on it and eat lunch - but then I am a Borrower myself) but managed to close my eyes and gurn for the photo (see below).

I bought it anyway so that I can shove it in FH's face and tell him what a lucky man he is to have married me, and because Sid looks awesome.

We then slowed right down for my least favourite two combinations - the ditch and the logs.

The first house felt like jumping off the face of the earth - I HATE going downhill as I tip forward and Sid is on the forehand and it all gets a bit horrible - but I do appreciate that course designers don't create courses with me and my likes/dislikes specifically in mind.

Sid jumped in, trotted nicely down to the ditch, hopped over and then cantered the three strides to the house!

Reminding myself not to get too optimistic, we headed to the double of logs. Call me old-fashioned, but I love logs!

However. This was two skinny logs on a slight curving line DOWNHILL. Also, the second one was bloody huge.

I tried my best to keep my shoulders back and not get in Sid's way, and he was an absolute angel and popped over both!!

We then hurdled the haystack (oops), headed over the oast houses and flew the final jump CLEAR!!!

Such an amazing feeling, and lucky Sid then was treated to a horsebox spa lavender hotwash and tendon icing (not like a cake, more like a footballer). It obviously felt good as he was jogging back to the trailer!!!

Another great day out for us and yet another reminder of how amazing my horse really is!!! Also feeling the eventing love - met so many lovely people whilst competing solo yesterday. I truly don't think there is a sport like it, with everyone so helpful and supportive to others.

Sid is back out at Keysoe on Sunday - no rest for the wicked!!

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