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  • Writer's pictureHannah Craft

Have we broken the curse?!

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is NOT an event report. But I simply couldn’t resist giving you a quick update on our journey!!

Sid and I have been bootcamping in every sense of the word lately, because I am utterly determined to finish the season with a healthy balance in our “Bank of Confidence”.

To this end, Saturday saw us visit international eventer, Alberto Giugni, for a showjumping lesson.

We warmed up by jumping an upright a few times off each rein, which grew at an alarming rate. The tone was set: it was not to be a cross-pole kind of day.

Then, without further ado, we began jumping a short courses of fences.

Alberto clearly hadn’t listened to my protests of usefulness, because I’m pretty sure the fences were 100/105. Perhaps even 110 (dear lord)!

Side note: ladies, if you ever fancy being masterfully shouted at by an Italian who is rather easy on the eye, I would highly recommend hitting Alby up.

I’m not saying that First Husband is worried yet, but when I sent through my extortionately long and detailed birthday present list (27th November, I’m coming for you) he didn’t choke, protest OR laugh….

Although I discovered an aversion for rather large uprights (and no, that is NOT a euphemism…) the lesson was fantastic, and Sid was loving every minute of it.

My main problem (one of many) is that I tend to flap at the bigger fences, thereby raising my hands around my ears. I also have a habit of constantly half-halting with no correlation to the stride I may or may not be on.

Alby was not about to let that continue, and, surprisingly enough, when he said “DON’T FLAP”, I managed to curb my desire to help Sid jump the fences by taking off for him.

So you see, First Husband, I am perfectly capable of listening to instructions AND FOLLOWING THEM.

We will ignore the moment I improvised my own course to avoid jumping a particular upright on the diagonal.

We headed home feeling like we might actually be able to do this jumping malarkey one day!

FH was “out with the lads” in the evening (I do NOT drive him to drink, whatever he says to the contrary) and so I spent the night alone, worrying about the following day.

You see, in a fit of optimism, I had entered West Wilts’ hunter trial in the 90 AND the 100.

It was time to face our cross country demons.

“Hang on a minute…”, I hear you say, “…when was the last time you completed a 100 cross country round without falling off?!”

Exactly. Bloody ages ago, is the answer.

Despite my optimism, the hunter trial was not abandoned, and so we trundled off to West Wilts.

Now, I’m not sure if it was the crisp weather, or because we hadn’t completed our usual dressage test and showjumping round before heading to warm up for the cross country, but Sid was wired.

I felt like the guinea pig rider for a new manufacturer of electric spurs.

Sid’s paces had been upgraded – a relaxed walk on a free rein turned into a jog, a jog turned into a canter, and the canter…..well, let’s just say I was very glad to be in an enclosed area.

After some interesting warm up jumps, with everyone around me looking mildly concerned, we were jogging over to the start box.

The starter counted us down and Sid shot off like a bat out of hell.

Frankly, I would describe the 90 round as “suicidal”.

Sid charged round, taking some stupidly long strides, and some stupidly deep strides, and everything in between.

The only consistent thing about the round was the pace (gallop).

We had a minor disagreement at fence 6, where Sid locked onto the fence, but sadly not the one in our course.

This resulted in a gallop out to the side.

However, by the end of the course we had managed to agree on a marginally more decorous pace.

For the 100, I decided that my only aim was to keep things relaxed.

When walking the course, I was horrified to note the inclusion of the trakhener…

It was our least favourite kind: a very thin log on top, with a nice stark ditch filled with gravel underneath AND on a downhill slope.

Our favourite kind of trakhener is one that isn’t in our course, but if we must suffer them we prefer nice, chunky logs to hide the ditch and an uphill gradient so that Sid’s eyes aren’t drawn right into the bottom of the black hole.

We were counted down and I set off chanting “relaxed, relaxed, relaxed”.

The first few jumps Sid maintained a steadier pace, and as a result, the jumping was much cleaner.

He had a little look at the first hedge (not a fan of jumping through hedge lines – very respectful of fencing!) but as the course progressed he was feeling more and more comfortable.

Before I knew it, we were making our way to the trakhener.

I shoved my shoulders back, wedged my heels down, and tried to keep my hands steady and my leg on. We were a few strides out and I kept chanting.

I could not believe it when he paused for a millisecond and then jumped it!

He then flew the hedge and the last few jumps and we crossed the finish line clear.

Better still, I was ON BOARD and looking between his happy little ears rather than up at his bemused face!

For me, it feels like we have exorcised that particular demon, which I have felt for a while was an almost impossible feat.

A few more coins in that Bank of Confidence and our “confidence poverty” might start to feel like a thing of the past!

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